Attitudes in the book blogging community

There are some outliers that make the experience of sharing love and support for fellow writers very difficult.

I love reading. I love sharing my thoughts on what I read. I love recommending great novels. I also love sharing my experiences with writing and tidbits of information around writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. For the most part the online community is greatful and supportive. I have delightful conversations and garner knowledge from other bloggers on their own journey.

In dealing with a wide sample of the population we get a plethora of experience, knowledge, and attitudes.

Helping younger bloggers and writers elevate their content. Provide more critical reviews and recommendations, more insight into the craft of writing is what I consider what this community this community is all about.

One of my biggest dislikes has been the spam, the unsubstantiated emotional responses (*cough*trolling*cough*) and professionals coming back to members of the community with cold, threatening attitudes because they are trying to monetize and ‘own’ the content that a multitude of bloggers are posting for free. Granted it’s a small minority of the community at large, but it exists and can have an enormous impact on the person targeted with this type of behaviour.

I’ve personally had my content plagiarized. And it takes nothing to reach out to the instigator and politely ask them to either take the post down, or link it to your original material. There is no need for threats of lawyers, being rude, or charging them money for using your content. After all, you can contact the hosting service if they are in breach of copyright (WordPress has its own guidelines and governance regarding this) and the material can be taken down as a last resort. Or ultimately there is the registrar, the DMCA, or even google. (I have previously written a post with step-by-step actions about these topics here.) There are always steps to take other than a heated emails with no response.

On the other side of the coin, I have myself inadvertently breached copyright. In researching an article, I copy and pasted material into several documents for reference later offline, and to link to when I wrote and published my article. However after writing my post, I accidently deleted the finished article, and saved one of those source material documents under the title… and then it was subsequently scheduled to post. So what was published were notes cut and pasted without context of someone else’s material. Plagiarism out right. So embarrassing. A lesson learned in triple, quadruple checking the line-up of scheduled posts. I received an email the next day of a threatening nature. Granted it was my mistake, and I was able to find my original article and upload it in place of the mistakenly published article – the in-question material having only been live for 10 hours. However, this time I expanded on the topic, researched more and made it even better. The thing is, if I’d received a better toned email, I would have admitted my mistake, altered the article and the owner of some of the source material would have been credited and given a lot of hype in the article – benefitting us both. But instead I found alternate source material – who don’t require a paid subscription to access – and much more examples. My newly edited article was infinitely much better, and all reference to the nasty emailer removed. They missed out on engaging any audience funnelled from my publication just because of their attitude. I would have responded to a nice email… but I don’t reply to threats. You don’t get results for inciting negativity. You can escalate the issue for importance sure, but keep it neutral in tone. I hesitate to mention, that even after I had uploaded the correct and finished article, removing reference to the emailers original content, they continued to harass me to the point I had to block them on all of my social media accounts. This person clearly did not check the updated article, or check her tone. I wanted to issue a public apology, I wanted to contribute some of her material as inspiration for my article, but after the bullying nature and threatening nature of their correspondence (from a professional in the industry mind you,) I’m doing what my mother always said. Ignore the bullies and eventually they will find a new target to annoy.

I guess with a background in teaching – you learn a bit about reacting to attitudes; a little about conflict resolution. But with the rise of social media we are seeing a lot of this clapback mentality. Off the cuff posts, tweets, DM’s, emails designed to hurt, scare, or embarrass the target when you could take a night to sleep on the matter and craft your response more maturely. It’s hard to make this point in a world where sensational content trends regularly. Cancel culture, online bullying, clickbait, response videos, apology videos… they are big business in the news cycle. We are seeing more and more inexperienced (and some who rightfully know better) falling into this trap.

It’s a form of bullying, of hate culture, of negativity that stalls the growth of our community and the publishing industry as a whole. Sadly this is not going to go away. The only way we can start to change attitudes is to not react, or react appropriately. Know appropriate ways to respond to threats. Know the avenues you have available to protect yourself online.

Granted I don’t see this bad behaviour happen a lot within the book blogging community, but it does happen; and when it does it can really impact you.

Anyway I thought this was an interesting discussion to bring to the blog – have you experienced any of this type of behaviour? How did you deal with it? Have you made a faux-par with copyright or plagiarism, and what did you do to make amends? Do you think information around the craft of writing, editing, publishing, and marketing should be widely free and accessible to anyone online, or is it something that should be paid for?

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

e-Book Piracy – What to do if someone steals your book.

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Information and actions around preventing the theft of your published work.

I came across the below article penned by Dave Chessan a while back and thought I’d share it here for those wanting this type of information. The sad reality is that there is so much piracy of IP, and most of the time there is precious little we can do to stop it; or the reality of tracking down and persecuting those breaching your copyright is expensive and takes up a lot of time, money, and research. The piracy in the publishing world is primarily with e-books, and I can only hope that those downloading and reading pirated novels will like them enough to go and purchase a hard copy at a later date.

The other issue is that pirated copies usually are formatted differently, may be ARCs, or incomplete files as well. You never know what your going to get. Not to mention the digital security risks with getting files infected with a worm or virus, or having your personal information stolen.

Considering its something like $300 million or more annually of lost income to authors who are traditionally published (in the United States.) This is a big issue. Authors generally don’t earn much, so it would be ideal if we could eradicate piracy altogether. But I don’t see that happening, and unless some major technological developments, laws on copyright and e-commerce drastically change, it is going to continue.

I’m unsure how this affects independent authors and writers whom publish exclusively in electronic form (like Amazon KDP and similar) as there is no data available; but it looks to be only popular book titles that are being targeted for piracy.

But anyway, here is the article with some information to help tackle piracy, but keep in mind the laws can change quickly, and in dealing with international IP addresses, you are also grappling with both international and their local laws. Today, most pirates use fake accounts, and it is nothing for them to close them down and open another. But we have to keep fighting for the right to keep our own income and intellectual property.

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You’d be amazed at how many websites have pirated or claim to have pirated your book.

There it is…sitting there, being given away for free.

All those sales…lost.

Worse yet, most of these sites have no contact information and probably aren’t even located in your country.

So, how do you protect yourself against these pirates and protect your rights?

In this article, I want to show you the legal, safe, and extra awesome way that anyone can regain their book from these pirates with some cunning tactics that only the most advanced computer nerds know how to employ.

Don’t worry, this will be simple…even for the most tech-challenged readers.

In This Article, You’ll Learn:

  • When to act and when to leave it alone
  • The steps to get the pirates to release your book
  • How to get Google to slap them around
  • And more…

BEFORE YOU GET JUSTICE…

Before you go all Klingon and serve that dish cold, I’m going to give a recommendation that SHOULD apply to 99% of you: If you find out someone is offering your book for free on their website, you should just leave it alone and move on.

Why?

  1. Most of the time, they don’t actually have your book.They scraped your title off Amazon – seeing that it was popular or potentially popular – and are only lying saying the book is available in their archives.  This is for one of two reasons.  Either:
  2. They want the searcher to pay their subscription in order to get the “free” books
  3. They will “send you the book” but it will actually be a virus.

So, in the end, you’re actually safer if you don’t look for these pirates.

  1. The amount of work it will take to get your book removed is usually not worth it.That’s not a knock against you or your book, but the number of sales that you would lose because of that book is probably so negligible that you shouldn’t even waste your time with it.  Most people who go looking for free books probably aren’t the type that would actually pay for one.  So you really aren’t losing any money.

Also, it’s important to note that sometimes ebook piracy can be a good thing.  As my good friend Tim Grahl shows, it can actually help you out.

But I get it.  It’s just the sheer fact that someone is either lying to people or conning them out of money, and using your book to do it.  You’re out for justice!

ARRRRR! Finally…a way to deal with ebook piracy #Ebooks

Well if that is the case, or your book is outside of reasons #1 and #2 above, then below are the steps you should take in order to get it removed or hurt their website, without getting a lawyer involved.

STEP 1. CONTACT THE WRITER/OWNER/EDITOR

Probably the most obvious of steps, yet often overlooked and more effective than you’d think with these cheap book thieves.

Why?

Because they are probably not making much money off of your book specifically, so instead of endangering their website/business (for fear that you are savvy with the ways of the Internet force and have read this article), they’ll acquiesce to your request and remove the one single page.

But what if they don’t have a contact page or way for you to contact them?

That’s okay because we’re going to use Whois to find out all we need to know about this website.

NOTE: For this, I’m going to use a pretty cool fiction website made by my good friend, Shaunta Grimes, called What Is A Plot.  How good of a friend?  Well, let’s just say I photo-bombed her Huffington Post picture.  But rest assured, she is not a pirate.

To do this, navigate to http://www.whois.com/whois/ and type in the pirate website’s domain name.

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Whois is awesome because it not only lists their personal contact information (unless they paid for privacy), but also lists where their website’s domain is registered, who their hosting service is, when they bought the domain, and more.

Basically, it’s useful for figuring out information about any website out there.

And that information is going to be important for these next couple steps. So, keep this information handy as we move forward.

Now, scroll down to where “Registrant Email” is listed.

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If it says something like “privacy@servername.com” don’t worry.  Just send an email to that address, and it will get redirected to their real email.

Now that you have the owner’s email, craft a well thought out email that details your displeasure in the matter, your request that they remove it, your rights, and the steps below that you WILL take if they don’t comply.

STEP 2. CONTACT THE HOST/DNS PROVIDER

If you’re at this step, then they either didn’t have contact information readily available, didn’t respond, or they said they were disinclined to acquiesce to your request…

So, let’s take it to the next level.  In this step, we will contact the hosting company – the people who house their website on their servers.

What good will that do?

These hosting servers have more to lose than some sneaky ebook pirate. If it is found that they are hosting illegal sites and are not in compliance, they could get shut down and lose their business. Plus, most of them don’t want illegal activity on their servers.

But how do we find out who their hosting service is?

Simple!  We go back to Whois Lookup.

Now, to find out who their hosting service is, you want to scroll down in Whois until you see “Name Servers.”

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These servers usually look like “ns1.somehostingcompany.com.”  In the example above, it is Bluehost.com.

In this case, you’d want to go to “somehostingcompany.com” and look for a “Contact Us” form or an “Abuse” form and file your complaint there.

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When you contact them, be sure to use your best legalese and state the following:

  1. The violations occurred by the website owner
  2. Specific URL you want to be taken down with a “fix it or else” type statement
  3. Inform that you tried contacting the owner of the site directly but they were unresponsive
  4. Your next step will be to file a DMCA (more on this later)

STEP 3. CONTACT THE REGISTRAR

Many of the scourge of the Internet actually have their own hosting service (you can basically turn any old computer into a web server), so sometimes trying to contact their “hosting service” will do no good.

But that’s okay.  We can kick it up a notch because even if they have their own hosting, they CAN’T have their own Registrar.

For this, we again look at the Whois info and locate their “Registrar Abuse Contact Email” and/or “Registrar Abuse Contact Phone.”

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If a phone number is available, it’s best to pick up the phone and contact the Registrar with your complaint.  Since its a copyright infringement, you have a decent shot at getting the information removed pronto.

If for some reason, you don’t get through to them on the phone or no phone number is listed, then send an email to the Registrar Abuse Contact Email with the compiled information and close your email with the statement “My next step is to follow through with a DMCA request since you are dealing with stolen content.”

That ought to get ‘em!

STEP 4. ENTER THE DMCA DRAGON

If nothing has happened yet, then it is time to roll up your sleeves and slap them around for real. In this case, a dish served cold with a side of DMCA.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is supposed to protect the owners of content from copyright infringement on the web. It’s basically a formal action.

So, why not just start with this?  Because DMCAs are supposed to be the last resort.  It’s the “I’ve tried everything and they didn’t listen so here comes the boom” move.

This is how you can take down the Pirates who steal your #book, Matey! #WritersLife

Most of the hosting services and registrars have a specific page for submitting a DMCA.  The best way to find this is to do a Google search with the “Name of the Company” + “DMCA”.

Here is an example of Host Gator’s DMCA page.

If the company you’re looking for doesn’t have a DMCA, then you’ll need to create your own and send it to them or their legal department. You can also access the Copyright.gov website list of companies and hit them there.

When filling out a formal copyright claim, you’ll need to list some of the following:

  1. Your full name and contact information
  2. Exactly who you are filing this DMCA against (website owner, host, registrant, etc. – you need to do a separate one for each)
  3. Take a screenshot of the blatant abuse
  4. Provide proof that you attempted to contact the violator
  5. Sign it yourself (electronic signatures are sufficient)
  6. State that you are complaining in “good faith”
  7. State that “under penalty of perjury, the information contained in the notification is accurate”
  8. State that you have the right to submit this DMCA because you are the copyright owner or the owner’s agent.

Here you can find a couple of templates to use:

DMCA Notification Template
DMCA Template from our dear friends at Scribd

Also, to help this step move in a better way, be sure to check out my article on Book Copyright pages and what to put in them. Having a strong copyright page will go a long way to helping to bolster your argument.  Also, there are extra steps you can take in order to formally copyright your book other than just publishing as well.

STEP 5. THE FINAL TAKEDOWN WITH A GOOGLE SLAP!

Hopefully, by now, you’ve made some progress with all of this.  But here’s the thing…even though the website finally complied, their cache might be slow to change.  Therefore, to get the Internet and Google to stop showing the page, you need to tell Google to remove the URL.

To do this, just click on Google’s URL request, put in the URL you want Google to stop acknowledging exists on the Internet, and click “request removal.”

Then Google will get to work ASAP so no one in the near future will stumble upon it.

Any SEOers reading this know what the above image references…haha.  Panda Update, anyone?

WHAT NOW

Again, I hope you didn’t go through all of that to save a couple of sales.  But if you did or needed to, then kudos to you and may the Copyright force be with you.  The above steps have only worked 2 out the 3 times I’ve enacted them.  The third?  Well, not really sure what happened there, but the owners were above average in covering their trail.

So, you no longer need to feel helpless if your book is being stolen or your content is being used without your consent.

You’ve got the steps and the means in order to exact justice.  Now, it’s up to you to decide if all of that is worth your time. Personally, I’d rather get back to writing.

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Have you been personally affected by piracy? Did they steal your novel, or simply use it as a lure to attract traffic, charge money, or steal personal information?

I’m seeing pirates getting more and more imaginative, setting up profiles on goodreads.com, contacting consumers directly through email gleaned from Amazon reviews… Keep reporting, it’s up to us to police our own industry!

UPPERCASE lowercase 2020 by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Bloggers Beware!

The shine got taken off posting to my blog recently when I found someone had stolen my identity…

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I love blogging, sharing stories, recommending great books, but in the past weeks all of my enthusiasm for this activity was soured when I came across a new blog. It only had one book review, which was intelligent, cited, and made some really good points. But on closer inspection, total click bait, posting links to other websites. And to make it worse, listed my details as the author – including links to all of my personal social media.

bloggers-beware-pic-02-by-casey-carlisleI just about threw up in my mouth. It was like a large block of ice formed in my stomach. I could barely believe what I was looking at. I clicked around on everything, to make sure it wasn’t some type of computer error and ensure I could duplicate the results. But it was legit. Legit piracy. The author of the site had totally hijacked my identity.

It looked innocent enough, but where would it stop? It was endorsing other websites I certainly had no knowledge of, or interest in. It was reviewing a book I’d never read… and suddenly the prospect of my identity in the hands of a stranger had my nerves in knots.

As my best friend said ‘That’s just not cricket.’

I got the site taken down by the end of day, it took reporting it to WordPress admin, Gravatar Copyright Division, and the regulation board, and a firmly worded comment to the owner of the site explaining my actions and readiness to take legal action.

It turns out the site author took it down pretty quickly.

The whole experience left me a little gun-shy about posting for a while.

My social media is secure; they had never hacked any of my accounts. But someone had started a new blog, listed my information and linked it to my platform. That’s some audacious human being. So, just a polite warning to my fellow bloggers out there – be vigilant, check out the author of blogs and articles you’re liking to make sure they are legit. We need to keep our community ‘real’ and sift out fakers posting clickbait.

This is meant to be a fun safe place to share our thoughts and writing, and though it has been somewhat sullied by this experience, I still enjoy blogging and will continue.

bloggers-beware-pic-04-by-casey-carlisleI guess this was the best type of scare to give me a kick in the butt to overhaul my security (and privacy) online. Change passwords frequently, and use ones that are hard to guess. Use numbers and characters, change cases. Don’t list or broadcast too much personal information. Occasionally do a search on yourself, or your image. It’s not an ego thing – it’s protecting your identity/brand. Choose to have added steps in authentication for your sites. I know it sounds painful and unnecessarily drawn out, but it is definitely worth it. If someone does hack your account or steal your identity to ‘catfish’ and are particularly stubborn; the lengths you have to go to to protect your content or image may be stressful, lengthy, and in some cases if legal action is taken, expensive.

Familiarise yourself with the rules and regulations of the medium you post your content to – and the avenues you have for appeal and policing.

It’s simply the other side of having a presence on the internet we all have to be aware of.

So after you’ve done all of the boring stuff you can get back to being creative, sharing your thoughts and revel in writing again with the knowledge that you are protecting your stuff.

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Happy writing and take care out there…

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Pacific Vortex!’ by Clive Cussler

Dirk Pitt is borne of pages and a passion for oceanic adventure!

Pacific Vortex Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Action Adventure

No. of pages: 346

From Goodreads:

Dirk Pitt’s first, most terrific adventure! Dirk Pitt, death-defying adventurer and deep-sea expert, is out to the ultimate test as he plunges into the perilous waters of the Pacific Vortex — a fog-shrouded sea zone where dozens of ships have vanished without a trace. The latest victim is the awesome superb Starbuck, America’s deep-diving nuclear arsenal. Its loss poses an unthinkable threat to national defense. Pitt’s job is to find it, salvage it, before the sea explodes. In a furious race against time, Pitt’s mission swirls him into a battle with underwater assassins-and traps him in the arms of Summer Moran, the most stunningly exotic and dangerous toward disaster, Clive Cussler plummets his hero onto an ancient sunken island-the astonishing setting for the explosive climax of Pacific Vortex!

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In the past I’ve really enjoyed the Bond-esque adventures of Dirk Pitt, and having been away from his action packed crusades for many, many years, I decided to catch up from the beginning. A goal of reading all the Dirk Pitt works from beginning to end and fill in the gaps of books I’ve missed.

Pacific Vortex!’ was better and worse than many of the other books I have read…

Pacific Vortex Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleBetter, because it really invoked a feeling of fear and anxiety around some of the undersea challenges Pitt faced, as well as the adrenalin filled awe at the scale and grandeur of the mysteries of the deep. I don’t think the other novels in this universe I’ve read quite captured that feeling as effectively.

Worse, because of all of the trappings that go along with a terminal bachelor ladies action man. So many archetypes which felt two dimensional and had me cringing. But I was expecting this. Dirk Pitt adventures are typically patriarchal, male-centric and reduce many interactions to machismo and objectification. It’s the same in the Bond franchise. The spoony and camp factor seem to come hand in hand in this genre.

The result was, that why I loved the adventure and marine elements, some of the stereotypes and interactions were hard to swallow. But you need to take it for what it is.

It was great to see the beginnings of a wonderful franchise. Clive Cussler writes with authority and conviction. He really knows his stuff when it comes to the marine environment – which, to be frank, is the main reason why I began reading his novels. That, and I crave a good adventure.

I know in later novels his character development and comedy are greatly improved, and female characters are painted with more than just an objective gaze or a damsel in distress. I think if I hadn’t already experienced Cussler’s later works I may have rated this lower, but have made an exception due to his legacy and the hours of wonder I’ve spent in his pages. Cussler’s writing is in part what spurred me into getting a Marine Biology degree in the first place.

So it’s only onward and upward from here. Can’t wait to see what the next adventure brings.

Overall feeling: machismo, but mad fun.

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.