Hot takes: A Trip Down the Rabbit Hole

Dictionary page spotlighting defintion of regurgitation - 'to bring back'

It’s impossible to explain creativity. it’s like asking a bird, ‘how do you fly?’ You just do.


Eric Jerome Dickey

It’s pretty obvious that the scammers out there don’t understand that the value in creativity. I mean, they get pissy if you even suggest they’re doing something wrong. Spoiler alert: They are.

Those of us who value creativity, whether we’re creators of it or consumers or both, understand the value in it. We get how boring the world would be if all things were the same.

gif of sandra bullock in Demolition Man saying "Now all restaurants are taco bell."

It can get kind of boring in the reader market as is when there’s a glut of too man writing to trend and not trying tell unique stories, which is something that we see in romance anyway. But thanks to scammergate — can we call it scammergate? — this is putting a whole new spin on things.

It was up all night last night. (Menopause sucks. I’m 43. This isn’t fair.) Finishing edits on a freelance project and my brain just wouldn’t slow down, which meant I crashed this morning until around eleven and my brain is spongey and relatively useless for actual creative work at the moment, so I spent some time poking around, looking for more scam– I mean, cough, cough, authors.

And again. The first book I picked…right out of the park. Talk about a home run. This puppy has been around the block four times and it’s part of a ‘series’. These authors tend to write in ‘series’. And as evidenced by this piece of art here… (Nikki didn’t title it, so I’ll call it Isabella Has A Fire Sale) You can see that some… ‘authors’ think that ‘authoring’ is about selling and buying used-up manuscripts for resale.

screenshot of Isabella/Marci Fawn auctioning off MS for regurgitation
link opens to a twitter moment

Let’s see another one in action…four times in action, as a matter of fact, since 2016. Late 2016. Like in October 2016. And it hit the shelves again February 20. That’s over about once every 7-8 or months. And readers actually have been noticing these recycled books. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

First, may I present the newest inductee into the ‘non-author’ Hall of Infamy.

Heather West, and she brought friends, Sophia Gray & Zoey Parker.

Heather bou wrote a book called Lawless. It was released February 20, 2019, and published WITH a copyright of …you guessed it! 2019!!!! No disclosures. No reference to the fact that it had been published before. And not once, not twice! Nope. This one is on its fourth life. Let’s learn about the evolution of non-evolution as far as regurgitated books go.

Lawless by Heather West

If you meander over to Amazon, you’ll find this book.

See the copyright date.

copyright date of 2.20.2019.

There are no disclosures of any previous releases.
Looks to be your average every day current release.

But… nope. This book hit the mark just a few months ago as

Devil's Blaze by Zoey Park, 2018
Geez. Really

See on Goodreads. And really, I mean. GO SEE. Because I want to show you something. These books don’t disappear from Amazon. It’s easier to find what you if you’re looking in desktop mode, although if you’re mobile, it’s see findable. You want the ASIN number.

where to find the ASIN on the mobile page or app

On the desktop version, it’s under ‘more details’. Like here, I’ll link ya. Copy that ASIN. Go to google and type in Amazon Product Reviews + the ASIN of whatever book you’re checking out. In this case…
B07DN1JPNZ. You end up here and that’s handy if you want to report duplicate content on the KU platform. Now we can’t rightly say this is infringing see it’s clear these people are buying and selling manuscripts like a pair used up tennis shoes, but the incessant regurgitation of these books, repackaged as new with no disclosure as to previous publication date does affect quality.

You can, if you so choose, use the links to report works you discover at the ‘report’ option, found here on each book page. Remember, don’t choose copyright infringement. That’s not the case. Choose ‘inappropriate’, then ‘violates’ and make it clear the book’s been published before and *NO DISCLOSURE WAS MADE*.

People have noticed with many of these, which you can see in reviews and I’ll point a few out in a bit.

Amazon area for reporting TOS violations

THESE WEREN’T THE FIRST HIJINX OF JOSEPHINE & LUCAS…

A simple search of the intrawebs “Josephine, Lucas, MC Romance” or something like that (can’t remember, this shit rots the brain and numbs the soul) yielded this… Mine, by Sophia Gray. Mine. Hah. Funny.

Sigh.

and so we discover MINE, Josephine and Lucas.

And again… if you copy the ASIN, you find the Amazon reviews. Look at the top critical one. Really.

Reader comment on Amazon, calling book out as Ada Stone's RAW

So the Amazon Review. Goodreads.

Screenshot of a sharp-eyed reader's review on GR's, noticing the book MINE by Sophia Gray seems to be Ada's RAW
This reader on Goodreads spotted it, almost two years ago.

and so we discover MINE, Josephine and Lucas.
MINE pubbed in 2017

Sophia’s Book Amazon Reviews | Goodreads

And that leads up the first version…maybe??? Published all of thirty months ago. The names did change since this incarnation. There were Michael and Belle first. Ever since then, they’ve been Josephine & Lucas.

Same story line as the other books, pubbed in 2016. Exactly the same.  Only changes are the names of the characters and the 'MC''s name.
If this isn’t an early incarnation of ‘lucas and josephine’ than Ada Stone probably has a case of copyright infringement on her hands.

Ava’s Book Amazon’s Reviews | Goodreads

Each time “Josephine/Elle” is a dental hygienist with a sick mom looking down the death’s door who wants to be a grandma but J/E can’t afford insemination and she hooks with with “Lucas/Michael” and tells him he has twenty-four hours to get her pregnant. Of course, he’s a big bad and she’s too pure and innocent for him, but hey, dirty sex however he wants it for a day, so what the hell. They he finds out she’s carrying his son because of course, in the sexist douchebag world L/M inhabits a daughter wouldn’t have much worth. (I’m assuming).

Text, word for word, in Sophia Gray's Mine, identical to Lawless by Heather West

A review where a reader was questioning the sexual safety practices on Goodreads for Mine. She’s highlighting dialogue only. But that same dialogue, word for word, is in Lawless by Heather West. I downloaded the sample.

text from Lawless by heather West
text from Lawless, matching Gray's Mine
text from Lawless, matching Gray's Mine

Isn’t This A Hot Mess?

AND THEY ARE SERIES!! If you going digging around the author pages of Sophia Gray, Heather West, & Zoey Parker, you might see a lot of similarities. I fell into a rabbit hole, too, because one of the books that jumped out at me? Mortar by April Lust? (Remember her?) You get to meet to Mortar (choke) and Kendra.

Welp. Zoey had a Mortar and Kendra, too. Her book was called A Wicked Vow. The link goes to a review that names them, because Zoey doesn’t…at all. At least not until she changed the name to A Secret Vow.

And people have noticed the rehashing.

Why It All Matters

Authors who are writing original new stories or republishing their backlist books at lower prices are getting drowned out by these book packagers who just buy up a series after it’s stopped earning money for another packager, then they reissue them after 6-9 months with no disclosure and a new copyright date. The copyright date is established when the book is created. It doesn’t change because somebody else buys the copyright.

Writing has never been an easy business to make a living from, but when you’ve got scammers selling books by the series-load and talking in private groups and sharing secrets on how to rig the system, driving down costs and using every trick in the book while legit authors spend a couple of months on a work, invest hundreds for edits and covers and then come out and some don’t even break even?

The entire buying & selling of manuscripts cheapens and devalues the very idea of storycraft and these people don’t do it once or twice, and even if they did, that’s not acceptable, but they are doing it over and over and over.

And it’s smothering realy authors. Some might make a few hundred a year? How long can midlist, new and struggling authors do this before they give up?

If enough give up, how will that affect the marketplace and the genre tomorrow? Next year…five years from now?

Are we looking at a future where only the major names sell books and the rest is rehashed dreck?

Readers are paying into the Kindle Unlimited program thinking with the idea they’re going to be having access to fresh new books. But we have authors like Heather West, April Lust, Zoey Parker & Sophia Gray, for starters, who make it clear that at the very least, you have to at the very least vet each book if you want to make sure you’re not getting a regurgitated work.

This is bullshit. Nobody should have to research whether a fiction book has been republished under another a name and title just to know they’re not investing time and/or money on something they’ve already read.

Yes, you can do something about it. You can write Amazon. I was advised to write Jeff Bezos, legal & content. Emails are jeff@amazon.com CC both content-review@amazon.com and legal@amazon.com. If you’re a writer and belong to a writing org, write them and urge them to speak out as well.

If you’ve noticed these regurgitated works and want to do the work to report them? The steps are mostly outlined in this post but there’s more you can do here. You can read the essay Reader J wrote & shared with me. If you’re so moved and have a platform like facebook, etc? Use it. J. also contacted Kind’e Unlimited’s support and voiced her complaints. You can share posts like this. Not just mine, but others who’ve spoken up. Let other readers know. In the end, readers pay into that KIndle Unlimited fund that pays these non-authors and the readers are the ones who make it profitable for Amazon to continue it. Make it clear you want originality and do it loud.

Push for change, loud enough and hard enough and you’ll get it. But it can’t just be the authors affected negatively speaking up.

Readers have to make it clear that this shit impacts them, too.

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