Update: Yes, the book was a plagiary. Amazon removed it from the ebook format and reviewers have already noted that it’s a ripoff. Strangely, not a word-for-word ripoff, but every major plot point and event was exactly the same. She also took down her website, I’m guessing because it’s monumentally stupid to try to take a well-known author’s work and pass it off as your own.
Even weirder, the book is from someone proclaiming to be a teacher. Don’t plagiarize is the first thing you teach in any course.
Tl;dr: Don’t plagiarize. If you must plagiarize, at least be creative. Pick a book that’s out of print, maybe isn’t translated into English so you can rip it off creatively. Don’t plagiarize a book that’s available in English in ebook format so it’s easy to check out.
The laws of the universe keep conspiring to keep me from reviewing Michael Scott-Earle’s Lion’s Quest. That’s been up on my agenda, but then people keep doing stupid stuff and I have to talk about it.
So, James Hunter is a popular and well-liked author. I’ve reviewed his Viridian Online series, and look forward seeing it continue to develop, side-stories and all.
Another soon-to-be author, Laurie Jo Bryant, is putting out a new series called Panguardia Online.
The blurb for her book and James book is nearly the same. By that I mean word-for-word ripoffs, minus a distaff switch on the gender of the main character. It’s not subtle, you don’t need to squint your eyes to see it, it has all the nuance of a Michael bay film.
Frankly, I simply don’t get the logic involved. At best, you might sucker a few readers and make a few books, but then your career and reputation are ruined. You can recover from a bad book, but you can’t recover from a bad reputation.
Next, Viridian Online is a popular series. The sort of person that would read Laurie Jo Bryant’s books is exactly the same sort of person who has already read Viridian Online. It’s not some long-ago, only-available-in-print book either, the sort of book you could ripoff without anyone realizing it for a while.
** There was a scientist who plagiarized Polish research articles for several years until another scientist from Poland read those English articles and found out about it. **
A.) This is a direct ripoff of Viridian Online.
B.) This is a bait-and-switch and the novel is nothing like Viridian Online.
If it’s A, it wouldn’t take long for negative reviews to start pouring in and people to report it.
If it’s B, then the book will get negative reviews for being misleading.
In order to investigate, I tried to find any examples of her writing up online. I couldn’t find any on her website, but I did find a chapter online for a promotion she ran.
There’s nothing about it that has any LitRPG/VRMMO elements in it. Next, I looked to see if she knew about LitRPG. She is retweeting well-known author Michael Chatfield about his upcoming LitRPG books:
Her Goodreads account shows she has read Robert Bevan’s Critical Failures series and Chatfield’s series. So yes, she knows about LitRPG.
She has the plot synopsis up for two of the future books in the series up on her website:
Which looks absolutely nothing like the plot she has on Amazon. The release time is expected at Fall of 2017, so that fits the timeline. Seemingly, these will be what’s in the first two books that she’s going to release.
Reading those two synopses, it looks like a generic fantasy tale. There’s no VRMMO aspects in any of it or a heroine who survives an impending meteor strike. It has two different protagonists between the stories taking place in a shared World.
The other piece she has up is about the World:
That also looks nothing like what she has up on Amazon. I’m a critic though, so let’s analyze the writing. From what little is there, I would classify her writing as “not very good.” In the first paragraph:
Panguadian, even after creating an entire world, he realized he was still completely and totally alone.
We don’t need that first ‘he’, we already know the gender from the previous sentence. The two adjectives “completely” and “totally” add nothing to the sentence. “Even” and “still” serve the same purpose, they explain the sequence of events, one of them can go. So revised:
Panguadian, after creating an entire world, realized he was still alone.
I could keep doing that, but you’d get the point. The writing has no punch to it.
Outside from the that, the descriptions are boring and unimaginative. There’s only four races of characters: Humans, elves, dark elves, and erthen.
So the very little she has up reads like it was written with a program called “Generic Fantasy Generator”, which I’m almost sure is a real computer program next to the “Generate Rihanna Song”.
What makes all this weird is after marketing for a fantasy World with two books in the series, she suddenly has two new books up that are LitRPG and do not tie in with the other two books that she has clearly been writing. Instead of it being a fantasy World, it’s suddenly an online World, and she has four books up in seven months.
That’s why I’m not sure if this is a bait-and-switch or a ripoff. She might just shoehorn some of James stuff into her writing to make things more interesting than what she wrote. Or she might have gone all-in and just said, “I’m stealing that story, it’s way better.” The fact that she doesn’t have any examples of her two new VRMMO books up is very suspicious.
What I also find funny about that is most authors are pretty cool. If you really feel inspired by James writings, ask him if you can create a side story in his universe with alternative characters. I actually asked him if he would allow this and he said that so long as the writing passes quality checks, he doesn’t object to it. My Cutter fan-fiction may be yet published!
Even if he had said no, that would have lead to a discussion about setting up the Universe, what would/would not be okay to do that’s similar to his stuff, etc. I’m willing to bet as long as you aren’t ripping him off, he’d be ok with most of it.
Regardless, at best, this is a bait-and-switch that will make audiences feel swindled. At worst, this is a blatant ripoff which is both illegal and monumentally stupid.
If you feel compelled to rip someone else’s work off, remember this handy phrase.