Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Yet Another Author Caught Plagiarizing

Well, here we go again. . .

If you read my other blog, Grizzled Old Traveler, you've been subjected to my griping about the Lonely Planet author who has been using his shoddy guidebook writing techniques to sell his memoirs. Now another author is joining the long tradition of plagiarists. This time it's romance author Cassie Edwards, who has written more than a hundred novels. Two bloggers and several volunteers found extensive similarities between her novels and dozens of other authors' books and published them in a 98 page document. Those are some pissed off readers! Amazingly, all they had to do was find suspicious passages that didn't sound like Edwards' style, and Google them. I've caught many of my students cheating this way too. Signet, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), just ditched her.

So here we have an author who has been publishing since the Eighties, sold hundreds of millions of books through one of the biggest publishers in the world, and nobody caught this before? This is one of the main problems with the industry, publishers rarely check on their writers. Novels are plagiarized, and memoirs turn out to be novels. There was the drug addict who turned out not to be a drug addict, there was the Jewish Holocaust survivor raised by wolves who turned out to be a Catholic who lived through the war just fine, there was the white orphan raised by a black family who turned out to have a white family but hired black actors to play her foster family. . .

. . .the list goes on and on.

When will publishers learn? Never. Fact-checking costs money, and that cuts into profits, unless they start charging authors to have their books fact-checked. I wouldn't be surprised if they try.

Journalism is having the same scandals, but still most journalists do not check sources. Many newspaper articles you read are simply compilations of unchecked facts from the public relations offices of corporations and governments. It's one of the things that made me quit journalism.

Thanks to Maya Reynolds for tipping me off on this one. Check out her blog for lots of useful news and views on the world of writing.

See, it's not too hard to cite your sources, is it?

No comments:

Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

You can also find him on his Twitter feed and Facebook page.