I got a copy of Sonia's Internet Marketing for Smart People last week like I do every week and read her article going over 5 relationship-builders to put into your content (click here to read the full article. It's quite good). As I read through her list, ticking off each item off in my mind, I also thought about how my content has been used by some of my readers.
Most of you really enjoy the helpful tips, you take it in and try to see how it applies to your own work. You use the information as it was intended--to help you do what you're already doing but better, more easily and with less effort. I'm delighted each time one of you drops me an email or sends me a message on Facebook or tweets at me or leaves a comment here (a rarity I'm puzzled to say) to say thank you. I'm honestly glad I could help. I really do believe in karma and I know that anytime I can help someone else, it can only bring good things my way.
Then there are some who read the Monday Marketing and Tuesday Tips, find nothing use and promptly forget about them. I appreciate that you read anyway. Worse, though are those who read along and get to the end wondering, What was in there for me? To you, I'm sorry I've wasted your time. The Monday and Tuesday posts are definitely geared toward addressing the needs of the Indie Author or self-published Writer. I hope you'll keep reading, because I hope I'll have something useful to say to you one of these days, but I suggest you focus on the Freebie Fridays and Saturday Surprises if that kind of content is of more interest to you.
The thing is, though, there's yet one more kind of reader I have and I'm not sure how to describe them. They are violating a trust. They're certainly not using the 5 relationship-building tips Sonia discusses in this article. They are rare, few and far between, and I'm glad, but I know I have some of these followers so I guess it is to you I am speaking this week.
You are the people who do two things to build content on your blog or web site, to make money or to build a reputation for yourself which are under-handed and build very negative karma.
One, you actively solicit others to contribute content to your blog or web site. I don't mean in the good way where you invite a guest blogger and let them speak on your platform.
No, no, no.
I mean you ask questions in various forums or on "help" sites and then, once you have answers, you assemble the answers in a blog post or article for your site and claim it as your own, original content. Worse, you later assemble these allegedly original blog posts in a book and sell that on Amazon as though it's your own, original content. It really isn't but no one buying the book knows that! You never make mention or attribution to anyone at any time, so how would anyone know? It would appear, to all comers, that you are quite brilliant. In fact, your brilliance at the expense of those who actually originated your content spurs your customers to buy more of "your" books. And so the vicious cycle really needn't ever die. Unless or until you run out places to ask questions, steal content from the answers or stop getting internet access.
I think that's why I hate those cheesy "Get rich/high on Google search results/ranked on Amazon's #1 list/whatever else you want, here's how!" books. Not only are they promoting the idea that anyone can get ahead without even trying (sorry, but although anyone can get ahead it does take work to get there), but they are making money off the suckers who believe them. It's parasitic.
Point two is a little more subtle and a very slippery slope for me to point to accusingly, especially given I've started this blog with the reference to Sonia's newsletter and article. Of course, I am not only attributing her ideas and work by reference to her name; I'm linking directly to it. I'm not hiding that I read her stuff and it makes me stop and think of something to say here, to you, my audience.
This second thing that I see this category of reader doing, however is more subtle. You don't ask questions. You do read other people's blogs and you are inspired by them. You don't actually change anything but you do rearrange the ideas and compose some connecting words. You lift, verbatim quotes--but don't quote anyone. You follow the same structure and make the same arguments, but don't attribute the article where you saw this done for giving a statement, let alone a link. You basically plagiarize and definitely camouflage it enough to pass it off as your own. I think you believe no one notices.
I can't even count how many times, after reading one of Sonia's newsletters, I go off and start Googling for related materials and actually find her articles--which I've just read minutes before--copied and pasted verbatim to someone else's blog or site and with their name on it. I find these articles because I've Googled some phrase Sonia used that caught my eye and got my thoughts going along a certain track. If the thieves hadn't copied her verbatim, they wouldn't have shown up in the search results so easily.
It irks me as much when I see Sonia being ripped off as much as when I see my own words showing up on someone else's blog. It's not as though I'm not going to notice, and I know it's not a personal affront. It's just someone who's either uninspired or too darn lazy to write something themselves stealing someone else's work and claiming it as their own.
Sadly, it's a strong trend in the eBook and blogging industry by those who "can't" to be stealing from those who "do." I suppose some would insist that imitation is a great form of flattery and I would have to agree. This isn't imitation. This is theft. Actual copy/pasting and republication (redistribution to the public) under your own name. It's not right.
The only thing I can do, of course, is trust that the negative karma these people suffer will make up for the hurt I feel when I see it happening. I doubt I'll come to terms with that trust. I'm not really a person of faith (so says the grrl who wrote a really uplifting, fun inspirational book that appeals to just about anyone who's questioning their faith).
But really, I'm not. I believe there is a G*d. I don't believe He cares if someone steals my words. I believe He thinks there are more than enough words to go around for everyone. I'm struggling to believe, L*rd! Help me believe!
I promise to have a much more useful Tuesday Tip for you tomorrow. I just had to get this off my chest today. I might even come back later this afternoon and add some more remarks about Sonia's relationship-building thesis. It's quite good. Give it a read if you feel today's post was a little "thin."
See you tomorrow!