jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
After I made my last post, I received a rather interesting private message on another social networking site.

Someone I don't know apparently saw my post about how Amazon had blocked my book to question whether or not it had been plagiarized from someone else's content on the web, and wanted to commiserate. S/he linked me to a blog post of their own in which they reported on the same thing happening to their book, and their response to Amazon.

In response to Amazon questioning their book, they sent back an angry letter filled with exclamation points, outlining that they had simply been promoting their book, and declaring that they had done nothing wrong. They accused the email writer of being rude. The email they received from Amazon was identical to the one I received, and honestly I didn't find it rude at all - professional, not rude.

Professional in the manner the person who contacted me was not.

The main thing that the author seemed to be upset about was a 'guilty until proven innocent' policy of blocking the book until it was proven that it was not plagiarized. Amazon cleared their book for release quickly, and so far as I was able to tell from the vitriol-filled blog post, their book release was only delayed by two days.

I was left pretty bemused, to be honest. Amazon is far from a perfect company and there is a lot to get up in arms about when it comes to business practices. But this?

Amazon gets millions of self-published books. To automatically approve them and then investigate plagiarism, would allow many to slip through for days or weeks before action could be taken. They would have to detect the possible plagiarism and contact the author while the book was available for sale, and selling copies to unwitting readers, earning money. Anyone who put up a plagiarized book would simply ignore the questioning email for as long as possible, before Amazon finally pulled it, and then would move on to another attempt.

The advantage of the current procedure is that authors who are innocent are motivated to respond quickly and to give them the information they need. Those who don't respond are likely the ones with plagiarized books, and their books will never be approved for sale.

Personally, I do think that given the practical issues and the number of scammers out there, Amazon is doing the right thing. Even if I'm wrong, I found the author's response to be over the top and reactionary. To me, it's never worthwhile to react to someone doing their job with anger and unprofessionalism. If the author does see this post as well, I hope they reconsider their reaction the next time someone doing a job contacts them with some bad news.
jessicasteiner: (Bad Writing Day)
From Opening Action to Zee EndI have spent the last week or so preparing a book version of my April's A to Z Challenge posts. The book is compiled, and I've expanded on the posts, cleaned them up, and changed the titles on quite a few.

If you followed my blog through April, there won't be much that's new to you, but it is a new format and I worked hard on it. I hope that some people will find the format useful, with a table of contents that'll take you straight to the topic you're most interested in, and a Createspace version to put on the shelf for reference.

When I uploaded my book to Amazon for the Kindle, I got a rather strange email:

Hello,

We are writing to you regarding the following book(s):

From Opening Action to Zee End by Steiner, Jessica (AUTHOR) (ID:3617383)

During a review of your KDP submission(s), we found content that is widely available on the web. You can do an online search for the content inside your book(s) to discover which sites are offering the content for free. Copyright is important to us – we want to make sure that no author or other copyright holder has their work claimed and sold by anyone else.

To confirm you have publishing rights to and control where you distribute the book(s), please provide all of the following information:

1. The URLs for all websites where this content is published
2. An explanation as to why the content is available online


I got confused for a second, then I had a good laugh. Of course it was available online - it was from my own blog. I sent them an email with an explanation about the blog challenge and confirming that - so far as I knew - my posts weren't available anywhere else on the internet, and it was all cleared up within a day or so.

I have to say that for all that I was taken aback at first, I'm glad that Amazon is checking to make sure that books that are uploaded to their store aren't simply plagiarized material. There wasn't any question or argument once I had explained that it was my own words - they don't seem to be policing beyond that. Overall, I thought it was a good experience, and reassuring to at least some extent.

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Jessica Steiner

February 2016

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