The other day I read this post on Writer Beware about a man named David Boyer.
This man plagiarises the work of other authors - established, debut and those yet unpublished - and then sells it under his own name or one of a series of pseudonyms. B.Thoughtful's blog contains a wealth of information about Mr. Boyer's publications and his aliases, as well as the people whose work he has plagiarised. His attitude towards those who call him on his behaviour is nothing short of despicable.
It sickens me that Mr. Boyer has been able to get away with this for so long. Even if an author were successful in the expensive legal battle over copyright infringement, Mr. Boyer has so far been able to prove that he lives below the poverty line, so he can escape being forced to make reparations. The worst of it is that the small minority of individuals like him creates this atmosphere of mistrust and fear throughout the writing community. Having a story stolen and sold as someone else's work is probably the worst nightmare of every writer, but it's incredibly rare. Certainly, no legitimate agent, editor or publisher will ever attempt to steal someone's work. They've got enough of their own work to handle without adding plagiarism to the list. Still, the fear that it could happen seeps through the community, to the point where the first thing I was advised to do by my parents way back when I first started writing seriously was, before submitting anything, to send a copy of my book to myself by registered post as proof I had written it. Now, my publisher, like so many, would never dream of betraying my trust and is always honest with me, but when you're just entering into the publishing world, that lack of experience allows so much fear to influence your decisions.
If people like David Boyer didn't exist, that fear would never have found its way into the collective conscious.
However, there is at last hope that something can be done. Ferrell Rick Moore was one of David Boyer's earliest victims. He has filed a Consumer Fraud case against Mr. Boyer, on the grounds that he is defrauding those who purchase books from him. If the case is successful, it could result in jail time. Mr. Moore has asked for support in this, for which he provides information on his blog. He is asking people to write to the Indiana State Attorney's office by letter or e-mail, bringing to their attention the fraud that David Boyer is committing and supporting the case against him. All the information needed is in the link I've provided. I have sent my e-mail and I hope more people will too. If nothing else, I hope I can help spread word and awareness of David Boyer so others can be warned off dealing with him or purchasing anything that bears his name or one of his pseudonyms.
There is also a Facebook page set up to spread awareness of David Boyer.
The last thing I'll say is that any budding writers reading this should not be afraid to seek publication. Do your homework, absolutely. Before querying to an agent or publisher, before hiring an editor, research them as much as you can. Make sure you're dealing with a legitimate professional and you'll be safe. Above all, keep writing and keep querying. There are so many stories out there, it would be a shame to lose even one just because of one man's selfish actions.