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Roll the credits

Have you ever seen the red graphic before?

I have the original. At one point, I’d been spending a lot of time escaping to Caldwell and created it as a joke to share with two girlfriends. Its original link is to a blog that I kept. The image is old now, but almost daily someone re-pins it. I’ve seen it all over the internet, picked up by the “official” this or that on social media. I’m pretty flipping proud of it still. If you take the time to look at the bottom I’d given credit to the author on one side. It was her list that inspired me. These are her characters. My name is opposite because that funny list is my work. And hopefully, if the Warden ever saw it, she’d appreciate that I found value in what she does.

Flash forward to this week. MJA and I are having the same conversation that we always do about book reviews. I can’t force someone to review my stories. Readers have to find value in what I write.

“I get it,” I repeat my mantra. “Reading a book isn’t as simple as eating a burger.” There is no need to keep jabbering on, he gets it too. A reader has to make time to consume what is written.

But as I’m planning what to share this week on social media I write that quote out. I brand it with the background image that I’ve been using to differentiate myself —One that I paid for the use of I might add. (Want to know about that designer? I'd be glad to tell you. I'm a fan of hers as well.)

Perhaps I should have taken the time to copyright it instead of just adding a link. Here does this help?

“I get it. Reading a book isn’t as simple as eating a burger. You have to make time to savor the experience. But when you’re done licking your fingers over that delicious story don’t forget to write a review. It’s inspiration authors need to cook up a second helping.” Copyright 2016 Jody Kaye. (FWIW this updated jpg has a watermark.)

The image gets likes on Instagram. Then I find that an author (whom I’ve had direct contact with) has taken my image, my words, my effort and posted them on their FB fan page. They are congratulating themselves on 300 reviews. The graphic has been intentionally cropped removing my credits.

My initial reaction is shock. I'm so disheartened. It isn’t that I never thought my work could be plagiarized. However, I never believed it would be by someone I knew.

Someone who told me how supportive the indie writing community was.

Someone whose work I have shared links to on my own FB fan page without asking for reciprocity.

Someone who I had actually offered my books to.

Then I got mad. Not only did this person take my hours of work, they took my mantra. The phrase that keeps me going on the shittiest of shitty days when being an indie writer sucks. They stole something special between my husband and me when I was sharing it.

But you want credit for this silly thing?… Yes, I do! Would you remove CS Lewis’s name from one of his quotes? Wordporn’s credentials from an image they’ve branded? Would you let someone take a chapter from one of your books and say it was their own?

Indies work too hard to gain the respect of the publishing world and readers to undermine each other!

The last emotion that I considered was this: How can an author pat themselves on the back for an upturn in reviews by taking something written by a lesser known writer? How pathetic is it that they could not come up with their own quote about a hamburger that they needed to steal my imagery? Were they concerned that by giving credit where it was due that they would lose readership to me? That’s just sad. All my anger turned to pity.

Did you know that one of the top ways that readers find out about books is by word of mouth? Recommendations from people they trust.

The top ten that I shared with Black Dagger Brotherhood fans is from a book that has over 88,000 ratings and 3,500 reviews. That story didn’t need my voice to gain in popularity. But this indie author—with ratings and reviews that far outrank my own—needed to take a graphic that could have helped me, strip it down and replace my voice with their own.

SHAME ON YOU. And shame on me for trusting you.

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