My curiosity was piqued so I used the magic of Google caching to check out the original "review". Although none of the allegations is substantiated, I'd point out that there was no direct accusation that you copied someone's pen name. The review says "this author has created a website using the name of a prominent Austen author and is using it to promote this book." Whether or not that statement is true, it's a bit different from saying you were using someone else's pseudonym as author of the book. I mention this only because you seem worried that your pen name is an issue.
Thanks for that!
I guess when you read it and read it again and start panicking, you don't see things as clearly as you should.
But the thing is I don't even have a webpage!
The only page I have is my Amazon Author Page. sigh
I am trying not to stress myself out too much. Trying, being the operative word.
Everyone's words though are helping me heaps!
Also, an update on the situation, I had just searched the title "Pemberley Variations," it is not a trademark and as far as I know up for grabs.
Thank you everyone, am taking all your comments to heart!
Actually, the reviewer DOES accuse her of using other authors' names.
The full review:
[b]First I'd like to state that I have not purchased nor read this book and I will not until the author discontinues her practice of "borrowing" other author's names and titles.
This author has created a website using the name of a prominent Austen author and is using it to promote this book.
She has also "borrowed" the title of her series from another Austen author of some reputation, and pieces of cover art from another author.
This is seemingly done with the intent of boosting her own sales on the merits of others. While "Pleasing Darcy" may be an original work and a wonderful story, I will never know because I feel it is unethical to promote yourself using someone else's good name and reputation.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.[/b]
Uh, and what names are those? Because the author name showing on the cached page only shows up for the books in question.
As for the series title, there is an author named Abigail Reynolds who uses that for her own Austen homages. Came right up on the first page of a Google search. Since you say you don't have a web site, then that's not you.
On one hand, with Pemberley being the name of Darcy's estate, it's an obvious enough choice to use for a series based on Austen's characters.
But on the other hand, you did say that you searched for 'Pemberley Variations' and didn't find anything, and yet it was the very first result on the search I did.
Again, titles can't be copyrighted, so I guess it doesn't matter in the long run about that, except that Amazon will probably ask you to change it, since Reynolds published hers on site first.
Then again, Amazon might tell her that titles can't be copyrighted.
Seriously, a friend and I named one of my novellas 'Shades of Gray', and it wasn't until much later I realized there are like 20 other books with the same title, and many more with variations thereof.
Wow, time and time again I see that some people have waaaaayyy too much time on their hands to run around and say such things with no merit. Sorry about your situation. I just couldn't find it in me to do such a thing unless it was my own work. Life is way to short to stick my nose in someone else's business especially with no proof or knowledge of copyright laws....wow again.....
Thank you again for your comments. They are helping me heaps.
Also to add to that.
I guess it was confusing when I said I googled the name to hell and back before using it; that was in reference to my pen name.
My search for the titles of my book I had done only on Amazon and I had thought I was in the clear because her series titles were always capped, "A Pride and Prejudice Variation," and mine was just "Pemberley Variations."
Another lesson learnt.
It was never my intent to hijack anyone's rights or profit from the merit of others. Makes me sad that I have been accused like this but you are all helping!
Also. Just wondering. Does anyone know how the review process works?
A kind poster has advised that a program is run to compare the titles but I was wondering if anyone knows what the full process is and what it takes for an investigation to be run?
Is Amazon the one that does the investigating for is it a third party?
In the email KDP sent me, they also indicated that my investigation was "pending" and it has been pending for days now while since I haven't heard anything further.
All of this doesn't make sense. Your title is different from Reynold's title. Similar in a way, but different, and based on a classic, public domain title. Titles cannot be copyrighted anyway. I have a book under a pen name where there are five other books with the same title. When I originally wrote the book, I couldn't find the title anywhere, then after I uploaded it, I discovered several books under the same name. So far, it has not been an issue. I also used a stock photo that is being used by more than one author in the same genre (and I paid for the cover art / stock photo).
You said you used pictures you took in your garden. You should have those pictures on your camera / computer. That's proof right there that you didn't copy anything. Reynold's books use pictures of a person -looks like old paintings turned into stock photos (not sure about that). So how can they accuse you of having the same cover?
What is your pen name? Is it the same? Or similar?
I would fight back and contact the author in question and their literary agent. They are accusing you of plagiarism. I would ask for their proof. If you are innocent, then it sounds like you have a possible defamation suit on your hands.
That being said -if your title is similar, your pen name is the same, and your cover looks a lot like the other author's cover -it's not necessarily against copyright. Have you seen how many "50 Shades of Gray" variations have shown up recently? Amazon hasn't removed these copy cats because no matter how you put it, it's not illegal. It might be a bit shady, but it's not illegal. I could write a book about glittery vampires, but make it my own story that is totally different from the "big one", name it Twilight, and use the pen Stephanie Mayor, and still be within legal boundaries (unless "Twilight" is trademarked now -which is quite possible). It would be shady, sneaky, and probably unethical, but not necessarily illegal. I would probably get slammed by reviewers too for being a copy cat, but that doesn't equal plagiarism.
Copying word for word, or a huge percentage thereof is another matter all together.
It sounds like you are being falsely accused (based on what you are telling us). If that's the case, then fight back. You might want to consult your lawyer since this accusation is coming from a literary agent, and you are being accused of plagiarism.
Edited to Add: I just did a search of Abigail Reynolds. Her website name is www.pemberleyvariations.com It sounds like you have a coincidence on your hands. I imagine the random reviewer is a fan of this author, and since your title was the same, made assumptions about you. If your pen name also happens to be Abigail Reynolds, I can understand why it looks suspicious. Can you give us more info.?
Could be Lilian M, the author of several books with Pemberly Interludes in the title.
I am amused (bemused, actually!) to see that P D James has a book called Death Comes to Pemberly. It's the only one of the lot that interests me, because she is a great writer of whodunnits, but at $12.99 I'll pass.
Unless your work is similar inside eg the same story I don't understand what has happened here. Although you wouldn't want to (for confusion) it's not illegal to use the same title or the same name as someone else.
I could call myself J. K. Rowling if I wanted to although I'm sure she'd object to this, and I might be taken to court
If I remember my reading of the cached page correctly (I've slept since then, am on my first cup of coffee!), Abigail Reynolds left a comment on that review thanking the OP for changing things.
I'm of two minds about the series titling issue, as I've seen only the one pen name used by the OP, and couldn't find anyone else writing under that name:
1. Pemberley Variations is a LOGICAL series title for Austen homages, and as has been stated several times, titles cannot be copyrighted.
2. If I discovered someone was using the same series title I was, I'd probably change mine, just to avoid having fans of the other author doing this exact same thing.
On the other hand, my very first ebook's title was used by someone else for their paranormal romance (I think it was a M/M para rom), and I never had anyone leave a review,comment, or complain about that to either me or Amazon. As far as I know, we were the only two who ever used that title, and were always trading places on the Google search results for it.
I’m sorry that this situation caused you so much stress and that Amazon took your books down after you had changed the title, but there’s part of the story you’re missing. This situation arose because I and the other authors in questions couldn’t find any way to contact you privately regarding our concerns, despite an extensive web search, dozens of emails sent to Austen bloggers asking for information about you, a request to Amazon that they forward a message to you (denied), and even leaving a comment on the review you mention asking you to contact me directly, all without success. You have no web page, no publisher, no contact information, no facebook or twitter account, no personal profile page on Amazon, and no way to leave a response on your Amazon author page. I spent a solid week trying to track you down, going so far as to do WHOIS searches on the sites hosting backlink pages promoting your books and emailing the domain name owners in Thailand to ask for your contact information (no response).
In a sub-genre as small as Austen fanfic, coincidences do happen, and it’s best if they can be resolved author to author, but that only works if there’s a way to contact you. I considered leaving information in a review, but it’s a violation of Amazon review guidelines for an author to leave a critical review on a book in the same genre as their own. Contacting Amazon about the problem was the last resort, and I did that long before that reader left her review and you changed your titles. Amazon likely wasn’t aware that your titles were changed when they took action. Incidentally, I wasn’t the “literary agency.” I got a canned response from Amazon last week that they couldn’t do anything.
[b]It’s a fine point which most people aren’t aware of, but while book titles aren’t protected, series titles are. [/b] You can title a vampire book New Moon, but you can’t call it The Twilight Series. So if no one has used Pemberley Interludes as a series title before you, it’s now yours. And I acknowledge the relationship between ‘variations’ and ‘interlude’ – I chose the title Pemberley Variations because my website at the time was Austen Interlude. It’s a very small world.
I won’t try to address any of the other points the reviewer raised, since other authors are involved in the possible issues about cover art and the point about using another author’s name, which didn’t refer to your pen name but to one of the many backlink sites promoting your books. If you want to work out that difficulty, I suggest you contact Linda Berdoll directly.
It’s very unfortunate that it reached the point of causing you so much stress, and I hope you’re able to upload your stories again under their new titles. Incidentally, I did make a public post thanking you for changing your titles so promptly when you became aware of the problem, and the reader informed me that she planned to remove her review since you had remedied the problem. I try to be supportive of other authors in the Austen fanfic genre, and I wish we could have discussed this privately and saved you all this angst. In the meantime, I wish you the best of luck in your writing and publishing.