There are certain things you need to know about the romance world. One, it is comprised mostly of women who are very passionate about the genre. Two, romance readers will fight tooth and nail for the genre in the face of mockery, discrimination and sheer lunacy. And three, the romance world is full of lawyers. So, with all that in mind, why the hell would you want to build your career on mass plagiarism?
Romance Author Cristiane Serruya was revealed to be plagiarizing one of the biggest names in the romance world, Courtney Milan. Milan’s work is highly popular and widely read by romance lovers and is often referenced as a great starting point for people looking to get into the genre. She’s also a former law professor and clerk for the Supreme Court. Really, she’s the last person you’d want to rip off. But Serruya, who is based in Brazil according to her bio, did just that.
Milan has documented the extensive levels of plagiarism Serruya executed on her website, which you can find here. This isn’t one or two lines here or there lifted: This is entire paragraphs.
This comparison shot will give you a small example of what I mean by "plagiarism." It's pretty blatant. pic.twitter.com/tmkMnMocB1— Courtney!!! Milan 🦖 (@courtneymilan) February 19, 2019
Milan wasn’t the only big name author plagiarized. Serruya lifted from Kresley Cole.
And Trish Morey.
And Tessa Dare.
Well, this is embarrassing. I am 95% sure this was lifted from my books, but I don’t know where or in which one. Geez, #CopyPasteCris knows my books better than I do.— Tessa Dare (@TessaDare) February 19, 2019
Sidenote, how come none of the bits from my book show up when I search? I had to go get the other off the shelf. pic.twitter.com/aDqEUhelj2
And Karen Marie Moning.
And also cooking websites?
But the weirdness and ineptitude doesn’t stop there. Serruya isn’t just lifting from other people’s words: She’s lifting their work and using it over and over again in different books!
Hi Tessa, I googled the first sentence and up came this phrase in two of her books. Royal Love and Perilous Love: Shades of Love. pic.twitter.com/dNLdwaJ8DK— Alissa Baxter (@alissa_baxter) February 19, 2019
The mind boggles.
Serruya’s output is prolific. According to Goodreads, she has 30 distinct works in the space of around 6 or 7 years. Is that possible for one person to do? Sure. But romance has had this problem before. Writer David Gaughran has documented extensively the cottage industry created around Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited plan, wherein groups of people jammed multiple books or into one Kindle file in order to maximize Unlimited profits. From this scheme sprung up groups of people, often men, creating romance author personas, getting multiple writers to quickly churn out books, then packaging them in this way to exploit eager readers. Some ‘authors’ offered incentives to readers who helped them make more money. One even infamously offered the prize of a Tiffany’s bracelet.
And indeed, as I was writing this post, Serruya herself confirmed that she didn’t write these books. She paid someone on Fiverr to do it for her.
I just woke up to distressing news that my work has plagiarism from other authors. I am taking down all the works I did with a ghostwriter on Fiverr—who btw has closed the account—until I have made certain this is solved. @courtneymilan @TessaDare @romancewriters— Cristiane Serruya (@CrisSerruya) February 19, 2019
That may sound like a sad reveal - and it totally is - but it exposes something the publishing world and Amazon have struggled to deal with for many years now. Amazon’s algorithm screws over a lot of authors, and it’s ripe for being gamed by click-farms, scammers and straight up thieves. Plagiarism may be easier than ever to uncover but for every scammer revealed, there are dozens more getting away with it because their business plan has become too big to fail and Amazon, who remain the biggest name in self-publishing, won’t clear up the mess.
Header Image Source: Goodreads