Writing a book is hard. Getting published is harder. Finding readers and selling the book is even harder. And still we persist.

When you throw plagiarism into the mix, one wonders if persisting is worth it.

Right now, in the lesbian writing community, authors are dealing with this issue.

A very popular romance author who generously supports other authors, helping them gain visibility and sales for their books, heard from a fan that she enjoyed reading her book (out two months) on a fan fiction website. Thinking it was unusual, she looked and found that it wasn’t fan fiction where a writer borrows characters from a book, TV show or movie and creates stories featuring them. It was plagiarism. It was her book with the names of characters changed and a few other wording changes, but definitely her book.

She asked the fan fiction site to remove the pirated book, then decided to investigate further on that site. Her search led her beyond the usual pirated book sites, to others, among them Wattpad. So far she has identified seventy-nine lesbian authors whose work has been stolen. 79.

The Cost of Plagiarism

This, of course, means a loss of sales income for the authors. But it can also generate the same feelings of violation as having your wallet stolen or your house broken into, and finding and addressing the pirated books takes an incredible amount of time, time the author could have spent writing. 

But for authors who sell their work on Kindle Unlimited, the price can be much greater. The contract they sign with Amazon guarantees the ebook will only be available on KU. If the bots amazon uses to scan the internet find one of these pirated book, Amazon may remove the author’s book from KU, and the author may even be barred from selling on Amazon. A death sentence for any author.

A sister Bella Books author posted that, “the quickest way to check if any of your work has been plagiarized on Wattpad is to Google part of the first sentence of your book/s but leave out any character or place names.” 

*This post is based on the findings of author Jae.

Do you know where your books are right now?

Catherine Maiorisi

Catherine Maiorisi is the author of the NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli Mystery series featuring Corelli and her partner Detective P.J. Parker–two tough women, fighting each other while solving high profile crimes. A Matter of BloodThe Blood Runs ColdA Message in Blood, and Legacy in the Blood are all available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks narrated by Abby Craden.  

In addition to publishing multiple mystery and romance short stories in various anthologies, Catherine has authored four romances novels. Her latest book, The Disappearance of Lindy James, was awarded a GOLDIE for Best General Fiction.


  1. i was shocked today when someone mentioned they “ripped” music, meaning they pirate it. This person was questioned by another friend. I said I had had my books pirated. “Think about how long someone takes to write a book.” I think someone doesn’t really care. Wonder if it is the attitude of youngsters?

    1. Vicki,
      I don’t think it’s age related. Some readers seem to think they are entitled to free books and so think nothing of downloading a book from a pirate site. And on the other side, many people seem to be looking for an easy buck.

      I’ve seen a few comments today from authors who will not renew their Kindle Unlimited contracts for fear of being shut out of Amazon. In the end, not only will the authors lose but so will honest readers who depend on KU to feed their reading habit at a relatively low cost.

  2. Sharing, if that’s okay, with my group in Author Academy. I know several of them are self-publishing through Amazon, and I fear they are hopping on the Kindle train as well. I don’t want them to get burned because I KNOW how hard they’ve worked to get their work published. Thank you, thank you!

  3. I agree with you. Age has nothing to do with it. I enjoy writing fan fiction (The REAL thing, which involves using pre-existing characters and worlds to create my own stories). You might not believe it, but even my fan fictions have been stolen and plagiarised in the past—some of it even had the same title and author’s note as mine!

    It’s a violation of privacy; it does affect you in the same way as getting your wallet stolen. You feel violated. It feels like someone has displayed something very personal from you for the world to see. Even though I wasn’t making any money from my fan fictions (I only asked for comments and feedback as a “payment” for them), I still felt distraught and heartbroken when I learned that they had been plagiarised. I can only imagine how much worse it would be for a published author who relies on their writing as their source of income. It’s unsettling to think that Amazon’s algorithm could flag a plagiarised work as a breach of their Kindle Unlimited contract. The people who plagiarise don’t seem to realise the harm they’re causing; even if they do, they don’t care. They might even be boasting about it on social media.

    Thank you for bringing up the algorithm problem. I hadn’t considered it before, but it’s a valid concern, as I considered turning one of my fan fiction stories into a fully-fledged original story. Still, now I realise that I’ll have to make even more significant changes than I thought to avoid any issues with the algorithm. I might even have to delete my fan fiction from Ao3 altogether (which would kill me, but it might be the only way).

  4. This is such a terrible situation. I’ve spoken to so many people who say “I can’t afford to buy books. Pirating is the only way I can read.” or “I can’t afford cable. Pirating is the only way I can watch a movie.” Or, or, or. Music. Content is at the lowest cost it’s ever been and people STILL want cheaper. It’s all very disheartening.

    1. Every library I know has both audio and ebooks through some service; mine has both Libby and Hoopla. So, one Can read for free through their library without ever leaving home. Not an excuse for pirating.
      And, I see ebooks for free (legally) through author newsletters or on sale for less than $3.00 (some for 0.99). And I’ll bet some of these pirates smoke (for $10 a pack).
      Yes, I know I’m “preaching to the choir”, but sometimes it helps to be reminded of these talking (or rebuttal) points so they are handy when hearing a pirate’s excuses.

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