I am a new author who has recently published my titles on amazon.
Not two months later someone has left me a product review basically cursing my name. They said I stole someone else's pseudonym and cheated my way filching cover art and series titles for the sake of boosting my sales.
I was very upset and I wrote KDP and they told me that customers are protected in their right to comment on my products.
The thing is this reviewer stated in her review that she hasn't even purchased my book and she never will because I was a cheat.
Immediately, I got on the case, did research, changed the series name of my titles and even changed my cover art trying to resolve this issue.
Then, two days later, bam, I am being hit with a pending copyright investigation by Amazon.
The complaining party was apparently a literary agency.
I am very upset. I wrote to KDP too explaining the situation and still no one has gotten back to me.
Can I pleased have some words of wisdom as to how best to proceed?
If you have not done what this person said then, in a few days, the issue will resolve itself. They will likely run your book through a program comparing it to the copyrighted work in question and check the similarity percentages. If you have done what the agency accused, your account will likely be banned.
If I were you (and you know you're innocent of this charge), I'd buy a digital copy of the copyrighted work in question and run my own similarity check. You can sometimes find free programs on the web. Good luck.
I am a new author who has recently published my
titles on amazon.
Not two months later someone has left me a product
review basically cursing my name. They said I stole
someone else's pseudonym and cheated my way filching
cover art and series titles for the sake of boosting
I was very upset and I wrote KDP and they told me
that customers are protected in their right to
comment on my products.
The thing is this reviewer stated in her review that
she hasn't even purchased my book and she never will
because I was a cheat.
[u][i][b]Immediately, I got on the case, did research, changed
the series name of my titles and even changed my
cover art trying to resolve this issue.[/b][/i][/u]> Then, two days later, bam, I am being hit with a
pending copyright investigation by Amazon.
The complaining party was apparently a literary
I am very upset. I wrote to KDP too explaining the
situation and still no one has gotten back to me.
Can I pleased have some words of wisdom as to how
best to proceed?
I have to ask, why did you do all this if it isn't true? I'm just thinking the way an Amazon rep will think, not making any judgements
If she's new, she may not know some of the things I mentioned above, Wayne, and having someone chew her out over using a series title and pen name apparently freaked her out.
Actually, stuff like this is why I DON'T read much in the urban fantasy genre. I can't 'copy' what I don't read (and to be honest, I couldn't stand either Twilight or Sookie Stackhouse). For that matter, Twilight is why I don't write vampires very often, LOL.
As gldrummond said, titles can't be copyrighted, and neither can pen names, although it might look odd if you took one that was identical to that of another popular writer. Did you google your pen name before you chose it? Many people buy their cover art from the same stock photo sites--that's legal too. But I assume even if you do have the same image on your book that you have a different name and a different title on it. It's not ideal if someone else used the same photo in the same way, but it's not illegal.
You said when you got the nasty review, that you "did research." Can I ask what kind of research, and what you found?
Remember that an investigation does not mean you are guilty. Even if you wind up changing your cover image, the important thing is that your work--the body of your story--is your own. If that is different from whatever other story the reviewer is talking about, then you should be safe. More deep breaths!
Going on the OP being entirely truthful (no offense meant!), this really bothers me.
We already have authors who will use reviews to 'slash and burn' at competitors' titles, even though reviewing books of the same genre we write in is against Amazon's review guidelines.
Is this the new thing? Look for books in the same genre that are selling well or better, find something that's similar to someone else's work, and then accuse the first of plagiary or copyright infringement?
Because we all know that Amazon usually accounts for the largest percentages of book sales, and that Amazon doesn't investigate first then pull titles after either is proven.
Amazon blocks and removes from sale, and THEN investigates.
So the accused writer loses sales and momentum, even if found 'not guilty'. Depending on how much noise is made publicly about the accusation, even being found 'not guilty' might not repair the damage done.
Personally, I think Amazon should start requiring a comparison BEFORE taking action other than investigating such claims.
Such as actual passages of two works, pointing out the obvious similarities between them, as others have done in various cases of plagiary on blogs and news articles.
"Personally, I think Amazon should start requiring a comparison BEFORE taking action other than investigating such claims."
Yes! That would make sense, wouldn't it! I mean, if A accuses B, we don't know if B is at fault, or A is at fault, or neither. Or both. Given that Amazon already holds money for 60 days, it seems they have time to investigate without taking the book off sale.
I have an author friend who was accused of plagiarism (by Amazon, not--as far as we know, in any case--by another author) because they found one passage from her book posted on a website. But it was HER website! It was a release announcement for the book (which was not enrolled in Select, even). So Amazon restored the book, but it was still pulled while they were "investigating."
I weave my stories totally out of whole cloth, so I'm comfortable they won't be like anyone else's, BUT the titles I always check. I have Googled each of my titles of my dozen books to see if they match any books in the last thirty years.
And, in a non-helpful comment, one of my books actually included a character who stole all of her fiction. The epigraph was:
"In the depths of winter, I learned that within me there was an invincible summer that could withstand the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune."
Renée Chevalier, Planet Sorine, author of BLAZING HEARTS ON FIRE AGAIN
This is from CAPTAIN COSSETTE which will be published sometime this summer here on Amazon.
Good luck to you, and my sympathies. I hope it all works out.
Thank you so much for your words of wisdom!
I suppose I should clarify some issues.
1. NONE of these allegations are true. I did not stole anyone's name. I had googled it to hell and back before I decided on using it!
2. All my cover art are used from photographs taken from items in my garden and local scenery and then altered using simple computer tools and fonts.
3. All my titles are original creations.
I made all those changes to my titles as I mentioned because just like another kind responder pointed out: I FREAKED out. I am a first time author and I just wasn't sure what to do! And I only wish that I had discovered this forum sooner, I really do.
The link to the review however I can't provide because they have pulled the titles in question off the shelves.
Still waiting for KDP to get back to me.
All in all, thank you everyone. If you have any more wisdom for me, it would be much appreciated too!
Have been reading everyone's kind words.
Thanks! Lots of deep breaths as suggested has been helping.
In reference to the research I did, I basically searched through every title in the genre on Amazon (took ages) and tried find out what or who I might have offended!
Perhaps not a very bright thing to do but I did it!
What I found was that:
1. There was NO-ONE with the same pen name.
2. That in the self-pub romance genre almost everyone uses nature pictures or cursive for their titles.
3. Lastly, this was the one thing that I had identified as the potential issue. I write short stories in the Jane Austen stories continues genre and have two series out there, the first named Pemberley Interludes and the other with the name attachment Pemberley Variations. I chose the titles because I thought the two words, "interludes" and "variations" meshed, complimenting and denoting well the premise of my stories.
Apparently, the last series title was used by someone else too.
I decided to change that series title because I could see that that author had published her titles before me and so I tried to respect her and correct the confusion. That was the only motive behind the changes I made to my titles. Because I was well and truly panicked! The email from KDP legal sound very ominous!
I am still very saddened that this has happened.
It heartens me heaps though to read everyone's comments and experiences as well as to receive everyone's kind words.