I am sure that many of you have seen posts or tweets regarding the latest plagiarism allegations against Brazilian “author” Cristiane Serruya or known in the Twitterverse as #CopyPasteCris. The term author in regards to Serruya being used loosely here because I have yet to see evidence that she has actually penned a book herself without ripping off someone else’s words. If you haven’t seen or heard about this, pull up a chair, pop some popcorn, and be prepared for a bumpy ride.
I know there have been several great posts regarding this issue, and in part, this is just a summary of those that have been published before me. Yet, as in the case of #cockygate, I can’t just let this go without adding my own remarks to the situation. This is too serious of an issue to just sweep under the rug unnoticed because just like #cockygate, #copypastecris is going to be yet another game changer to the industry.
Ms. Serruya at the time of writing this has been accused of plagiarizing 51 books, 34 authors, 3 articles, 3 websites, and 2 recipes per the source of blogger, CaffeinatedFae. I’ll let that sink in for a moment.
Have you wrapped your heard around that? No? Well, I’ll be honest that I am in the same boat. I have no idea even how to process this news that seems to spiral even more out of control every day with the edition of new authors. This entire ordeal started off with one author then escalating to the numbers listed above in just a week. A WEEK! And I have no doubts that more will be found today or even tomorrow. One such article theft still had the website’s hyperlink still embedded into the text. The evidence doesn’t lie, and I personally think this is just the beginning of her fall down the rabbit hole of career implosion.
Every time I think about this, my head and heart hurts. How does she call herself an author? She didn’t write the words. Not a single one yet she clearly profited from them despite her claims she didn’t. See this article here from Lucas Mato where she says this and more in an interview since the story broke. You don’t get bestseller status without selling books. Maybe in the alternative universe she seems to be residing in, but not in my experience. That’s not how the system works. Ask any legitimate author publishing in today’s industry that question, and see how quickly it takes for them to laugh in her face. Seriously. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Why did she even start down this road? Is Ms. Serruya allergic to hard work? Too busy to write? When are stealing from so many books, I can imagine that free time is a bit of a commodity. Sarcasm there if you didn’t pick up on that. If I can work a full-time in a demanding science career while still producing a few books a year then surely she could have done the same thing? Right? The answer though would be no because the evidence points to the contrary. The list of authors she has stolen from are some of the best in the business. The real bestsellers. Authors with literally thousands of fans who devour their words. Nora flipping Roberts, y’all. How did she think she was going to get away with it? Reality check. She did, and did so until this last week. There is absolutely no way to gauge just how much money she made off of “her” books. Not without a court order, but I have a feeling that is coming far more quickly than she can imagine.
But it gets even worse. First, Ms. Serruya blamed the ghostwriters she hired for the plagiarism. The use of ghostwriters has been around for far longer than any of us can remember in this industry. It’s common place especially for those who work with the larger publisher houses. For indies? Not as common, but it still occurs. Yet here we see an “author” shoving the blame off on the ghostwriter, claiming she had no knowledge of it. But the thing about passing the blame buck is that sometimes those who you are chastising clap back, and they did. The ghostwriters came forward with evidence of what exactly she sent them. Many of them stating they had refused to work with her after they realized the words were not her own. Some refused her. Others took the money and did it. I guess I have wonder why someone hadn’t blown the whistle on this earlier knowing that she was peddling chunks of various stories to ghostwriters, but that question is one we will likely never get an answer for. However, I digress.
This fiasco, I suspect, is far from over, and the implications down the road for the rest of the indie publishing world has the potential to be staggering. Just like Faleena Hopkins’s copyright last May. When things of this magnitude strike, the ripple effects will hit us all. What that means is still yet to be seen going forward, but I have a feeling that we will be seeing them soon enough with the sheer number of authors and publishers involved in these allegations. I have no doubt that the addition of plagiarism checks will be coming soon enough before we can publish, and honestly, I welcome them because in the grand scheme of things it could curtail a lot of the problems we see with plagiarism. That is if they are implanted correctly. Yet scammers will always find a loophole. Just ask those who have manipulated the KU charts for years who were banned last summer and are already back in the self-publishing game.
This entire ordeal while I may not be directly affected by it gave me a kick in the pants to stop procrastinating and to get my copyrights file for my books, which at the time of publishing this story, I have. It’s time like this that reminds me to never let my guard down because next time it could be my words being stolen. Not only does this hurt me as an author, but our community as well. We put far too much trust and stock in the systems that are supposed to bring us success instead of systemically screwing us over. I’m looking at you, Amazon, when I say this. Fix your KU system, and put gate keepers in place that don’t help the scammers win. You are the industry leader in e-book sales, and until you take a stand, the authors of this world will still fall to plagiarism, theft, and a broken KU system that benefits the scammers and not the authors who provide you the stories for which you make money off of. This is a dark time for the indie world, and I hope that we can find the light at the end of the publishing tunnel soon enough. If we don’t, the community that we love will be changed forever.