Rage – and a self-publishing warning

By Ava Mylne

Last Saturday something horrific happened to a dear friend of mine, our Writing Snippets colleague, Lauren Ritz. Lauren has worked tirelessly for more than a year to finish and polish a book for submission. She quit her day job to write full time–something most of us would never have the courage or trust in God to do–and she is living from minute to minute on the remains of her savings. She has written fiction for years, has a degree in English from the University of Utah, and has studied all types of publishing. She learned from her own study how to format her work to different media options, learned web design and maintains three blogs. She offers professional editing and reviewing services. She is doing what she loves more than life.

A week ago, she put a book of short stories up on Smashwords and Amazon, alongside an LDS Suspense novel she had just finished. She said she was “learning the system”.

On Saturday, March 28th, in the middle of a family party, I heard a noise from her that I hope never to hear again; a choking, garbled sound that made me sit still for a moment in shock, then get up to go see what was wrong. No, no death. No gory dismemberment. Not physical, anyway.

Someone had stolen her book. They took her story, her cover art–which was also her own work, an original painting—her title; they didn’t even bother to change her name. She had offered the book for free, but they had changed the price as well. They were charging $2.99 for the book she had offered for free. Her blood, sweat and tears, her passion, her effort and sacrifice, her love of writing, hijacked to put money she desperately needs in the pockets of some subhuman toads.

Happens all the time, you say? Maybe. In a five minute search we found two other authors who had the exact tag-lines and symbols added to their books. Lauren contacted one of the violated authors, and she said the same thing. “It happens all the time”. This author has numerous books on Amazon, and said it has happened to her before. No biggie.

I beg to differ.

This is what I have to say: First, if you ever considered putting an electronic submission up, be aware, “It happens all the time”. If you have a book on an electronic site, cross-reference your title, your name, etc. Do a search for similar titles. Keep an eye on things there. Don’t let this happen to you.

Second, (and yes, this is a shameless plug!) go check out Lauren’s blog. Find her on Twitter! Look up her books on Amazon and Smashwords!! Her book title(the un-plagiarized one) is listed below. She is a magnificent writer, and my own muse in all things literary. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing for her. Maybe her friends can help make it positive.

Lauren, I’m cheering for you!

Without a Voice, Contemporary Suspense by Lauren Ritz on Amazon and Smashwords. LAUNCH DATE IS TODAY, April 1st! (And no, this is not an April Fool’s prank…)

Connect with Lauren Online (right click and edit hyperlink to get the address, or just paste them as they are):

Website: http://lauren.laurentritz.com
Twitter: laurenritz1
Facebook: LaurenRitztheWriter
Amazon Author Page: Lauren-Ritz
Smashwords Author Page: LaurenRitz
Blog for writers: Eclectic
Blog for readers: Welcome to the HalfWorld

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About Writing Snippets

Information for the beginning or aspiring writer about all things writing in the fiction world. Novels, publishing, etc. We feature author and other professional interviews. View all posts by Writing Snippets

4 responses to “Rage – and a self-publishing warning

  • Lauren Ritz

    Thanks for your support. It means a lot.

    Lauren

  • alice

    That’s awful. I’m so sorry to hear that. Is there anything that can be done? How did they steal it? Isn’t it copy-written/writed?(sp?) in your name? Does Smashwords take any responsibility for stolen books?

    • Lauren Ritz

      I put it on free (which I’ve now changed), and someone downloaded it. It is copyrighted, but I really don’t think they care about legalities. I’ve identified six books so far that were put out there within a three day period. It’s up to the authors to work with Amazon to get them removed.

      Smashwords has said they’ll notify the author, but they’re not responsible for the actions of the individual once the item is downloaded.

  • Margo Kelly

    OH MY GOSH! I had no idea! So scary.

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