There’s a bit of a tempest in a tea pot right now over allegations that a newbie author has plagiarized word for word the work of noted author David Gemmell. The situation is very weird, since the author chose to work with noted scam artists (which she now blames for the plagiarism) and because both the author and her agent are threatening law suits and even Wiccan curses on everyone. You can read all about the controversy here:

http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2007/10/11/top-10-tips-for-plagairists/

A number of things that the author is doing – including using her disability as an excuse and painting herself as the victim of a scam – make it very hard to defend her. Nevertheless, reading about the whole mess has made me realize:

1) Publishers that accept anything for a fee are not a great route. Presumably, the publisher in this case did not check for plagiarism or writing quality because the company was being paid to produce the book. Of course, plagiarism does happen with traditional publishers, but it seems less likely to happen when there are professional editors reading your work.

2) If your agent cannot string together a decent sentence and charges you fees to place your book with a vanity press, you need a new agent.

3) You really, really need to know about the publishing industry before trying to get into writing books. Part of the reason why I find it so hard to have sympathy for the author in this case is because she claims that she did not know that the people around her were scam artists. Yet, she has her own web site and obviously does some online marketing. Surely, she has enough computer knowledge to Google the names of people she is working with to check their legitimacy.

4) If you don’t like writing and pay someone else to write for you, become a business entity or a retailer. Do not become an author, especially not one that gushes that writing is a “gift” you want to share with the world.

5) If you screw up, it’s better just to admit the mistake, apologize and try to rectify the situation. The author in this case at first claimed that the work was hers then did not immediately try to remove the offending text from her web page. In fact, what she seemed to want most is for people to stop talking about it.

That’s just my two cents. Here are the job leads for today:

1) http://www.randallpub.com/careers.shtml Randall Reilly sometimes has editorial positions open.

2) http://www.putman.net/careers/submit_resume.php — Putman Media sometimes has writing and editing opportunities.

3) http://www.phillips.com/employment.html — Phillips often has content, writing, and editing jobs available.

4) http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/pbonline.html — This great site from Louie Crew has a list of poetry markets that accept submissions electronically.

5) http://www.poetrymachine.com/ — This great site lists lots of markets for poetry – International, Canadian and US markets here.

6) http://www.writers.ns.ca/periodicals.html — The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia has a nice page of markets.

7) http://www.writersreign.co.uk/Markets_for_Writers.html — Markets and writing gigs, mostly in the UK.