Plagiarising / writing short ebooks

20 replies
I'm watching a video right now showing a guy copying and pasting from articles and creating an ebook.

I really hate the idea of plagiarising. A major reason why I'm into the whole writing books and creating info products thing is because at last I've found a way of making money from my knowledge and pursing my interests or from things that I can learn about. The satisfaction of doing that is a big attraction for me. I love giving of myself.

And I don't mind taking a bit from here and there, the way I see it I'm learning as I go if I do a little bit of plagiarising even though I would rephrase things and give it my own spin and make it mine, but watching this guy, it seems that what he's doing is too much. He's literally copying and pasting and making a book, and a very short one at that, which he says is reasonable to sell at $2.99


So I have 2 questions :

1) How much plagiarising do you think is reasonable? (Plagiarism meaning anything from taking someone's idea and making it your own, to blatant copying, which I know is unacceptable and I wouldn't dream of doing it)

2) Can you really make a modestly reasonable income from writing very short books (whether plagiarised or not)?
#ebooks #plagiarising #short #writing
  • Profile picture of the author ShawnHansen
    Hi Johnny!

    Originally Posted by Johnny1975 View Post


    1) How much plagiarising do you think is reasonable?
    The answer to this is ZERO. It's a violation of copyright. Period. There are no exceptions. Think about this: How much of YOUR work would you be okay with someone copying and then claiming as his/her own?

    Originally Posted by Johnny1975 View Post


    2) Can you really make a modestly reasonable income from writing very short books (whether plagiarised or not)?
    This will depend on a variety of factors including:
    1. What's the niche/genre?
    2. Will each book fulfill the reader's expectations? (The length isn't the issue, but the quality and completeness of the promised content is. Be aware that Amazon has a soft 24-page minimum in place.)
    3. How many eBooks do you plan to offer? (The more titles, and the greater the backlist, the more potential for sales.)

    Happy Writing!
    Shawn
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    • Profile picture of the author Johnny1975
      Originally Posted by ShawnHansen View Post

      Hi Johnny!



      The answer to this is ZERO. It's a violation of copyright. Period. There are no exceptions. Think about this: How much of YOUR work would you be okay with someone copying and then claiming as his/her own?



      This will depend on a variety of factors including:
      1. What's the niche/genre?
      2. Will each book fulfill the reader's expectations? (The length isn't the issue, but the quality and completeness of the promised content is. Be aware that Amazon has a soft 24-page minimum in place.)
      3. How many eBooks do you plan to offer? (The more titles, and the greater the backlist, the more potential for sales.)

      Happy Writing!
      Shawn
      The guy in the video was copying recipes and lists of ingredients. He said that anything else is violating copyright. It doesn't matter to me because I don't plan on doing anything like that but it's good to know where I stand. Personally, if I was to do what he did, I'd at least go through it all and reorganize and reword it.

      The book that I'm writing is a dating book. It's essentially a checklist for men to keep in mind when dating (ie what to look for and avoid in a woman). But everything on the list comes with a paragraph giving an explanation. In total, as it stands, it's going to be about 100 or so things. It will probably be (I'm just guessing) 32 pages, but I'll definitely make it more than 24 if that's what I have to do. I don't have any other books in mind at the moment. I believe that I can get it done within 2 more weeks.

      I know it's not an exact science, but could you give me a rough idea of how much I could make per week or month from a short book like that, assuming that it's a good book?

      Also, once it's out there, I'll continue working on it and expand it to twice the size, and then I'll carry on and double it again, making it about 100 pages or so. I'll make sure that whatever I add will be useful, and not just fluff. I promise.
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      • Profile picture of the author LilBlackDress
        Originally Posted by Johnny1975 View Post

        The guy in the video was copying recipes and lists of ingredients. He said that anything else is violating copyright. It doesn't matter to me because I don't plan on doing anything like that but it's good to know where I stand. Personally, if I was to do what he did, I'd at least go through it all and reorganize and reword it.

        The book that I'm writing is a dating book. It's essentially a checklist for men to keep in mind when dating (ie what to look for and avoid in a woman). But everything on the list comes with a paragraph giving an explanation. In total, as it stands, it's going to be about 100 or so things. It will probably be (I'm just guessing) 32 pages, but I'll definitely make it more than 24 if that's what I have to do. I don't have any other books in mind at the moment. I believe that I can get it done within 2 more weeks.

        I know it's not an exact science, but could you give me a rough idea of how much I could make per week or month from a short book like that, assuming that it's a good book?

        Also, once it's out there, I'll continue working on it and expand it to twice the size, and then I'll carry on and double it again, making it about 100 pages or so. I'll make sure that whatever I add will be useful, and not just fluff. I promise.
        It is impossible to tell someone how much they can make from an eBook regardless of how good it is. Customers still have to find it.

        As for length, Amazon does have a minimum word count. Be sure you are very clear in your blurb that your book is short (if it is) and be prepared for possible negative reviews based on length anyway.
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  • Profile picture of the author jamescanz
    Originally Posted by Johnny1975 View Post

    2) Can you really make a modestly reasonable income from writing very short books?
    Definitely!

    Just because a book or ebook is short doesn't mean it's ineffective.

    Every WSO I've put out has been under 20 pages.

    They're straight and to the point, giving you exactly what you need to succeed.

    So yes, you can really make a modestly reasonable income from writing very short books

    ...and there are many others out there doing the same !

    Note: Whatever video you were watching as mentioned in your original post...

    I wouldn't recommend taking advice from him / her
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    Originally Posted by Johnny1975 View Post


    So I have 2 questions :

    1) How much plagiarising do you think is reasonable?
    None. Write your own content. It will be unique and you won't be stealing someone else's work. You might even avoid a lawsuit.
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    • Profile picture of the author Johnny1975
      Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

      None. Write your own content. It will be unique and you won't be stealing someone else's work. You might even avoid a lawsuit.
      I wasn't planning on copying other people's work, that's not my style. But there are very few totally original ideas and I'm sure that anyone who ever wrote a book about anything got a lot of their ideas from elsewhere. Most people learn from other people. The question is where do you draw the line between writing about what you know which you learned from someone else, and just copying them. I wouldn't copy anyone. If I was short on ideas I'd certainly research what others have to say about the topic, but I'd make it my own. I'm using the word plagiarising in the widest sense.
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  • Profile picture of the author wolfmmiii
    Since recipes are not covered under copyright laws, there is nothing illegal or unethical about copying a recipe/ingredient list as long as you write your own directions. Copying the instructions and photos? That's a problem.
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      Originally Posted by Johnny1975 View Post

      1) How much plagiarising do you think is reasonable?
      None. Zero, Nada, Zilch. Next question.

      Originally Posted by Johnny1975 View Post

      2) Can you really make a modestly reasonable income from writing very short books (whether plagiarised or not)?
      It's possible, at least in the short term. If the books are worth at least as much as you charge, you might last. Unfortunately, you aren't the one who gets to decide that. Your buyers are.

      Earlier today I gave a one-star review to a "book" that was obviously a series of copy/paste articles. The actual content didn't start until a third of the way through the 32-page "book". Then came the copy/paste chapters, followed by another 20% or so of fluff and promotion for his other so-called books. The sole reason I didn't refund it was because it was on a free promotion.

      Originally Posted by wolfmmiii View Post

      Since recipes are not covered under copyright laws, there is nothing illegal or unethical about copying a recipe/ingredient list as long as you write your own directions. Copying the instructions and photos? That's a problem.
      Lists of ingredients are not protected by copyright, but narrative (directions and commentary) is.

      I've seen more than one "writer" advocate stealing recipes and manually spinning the directions, totally unaware of the concept of "derivative works". Those same people always seem to be griping about some kind of "Cookbook Mafia" dogging them with bad reviews "for no reason"...:rolleyes:
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      • Profile picture of the author Johnny1975
        Originally Posted by JohnMcCabe View Post

        None. Zero, Nada, Zilch. Next question.



        It's possible, at least in the short term. If the books are worth at least as much as you charge, you might last. Unfortunately, you aren't the one who gets to decide that. Your buyers are.

        Earlier today I gave a one-star review to a "book" that was obviously a series of copy/paste articles. The actual content didn't start until a third of the way through the 32-page "book". Then came the copy/paste chapters, followed by another 20% or so of fluff and promotion for his other so-called books. The sole reason I didn't refund it was because it was on a free promotion.



        Lists of ingredients are not protected by copyright, but narrative (directions and commentary) is.

        I've seen more than one "writer" advocate stealing recipes and manually spinning the directions, totally unaware of the concept of "derivative works". Those same people always seem to be griping about some kind of "Cookbook Mafia" dogging them with bad reviews "for no reason"...:rolleyes:
        Yes there are some books out there that are very fluffy. I recently read a book about how to do a blueprint for an ebook, and I couldn't believe how many times the author kept rambling on about the importance of having a blueprint. It's like they must have sat down and listed 1,000 ways to say the same thing.

        It was exciting at first and it really got me interested, but then as it went on I thought it was over the top. It did have substance eventually but it was a tedious read and I don't think I paid as much attention as I would have if it had been more concise. It just goes to show that if you lose a little bit of respect for the author's way of writing, it can influence (decrease) your focus on when they do say something of value. I'm learning a lot just from downloading books and observing how they're written.

        But come on, give me a clue, how much can I make from a short ebook?
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  • Profile picture of the author BradVert2013
    Originally Posted by Johnny1975 View Post


    1) How much plagiarising do you think is reasonable?
    Good lord, do we really need to go through this again? NO AMOUNT OF PLAGIARISM IS REASONABLE! Period. End of story.

    People have been sued, and ordered to pay big bucks, for copying even very small portions of content.

    Talk to an intellectual property lawyer about this if you really want to be safe.

    I'll just say this: if I caught someone copying/pasting my work and using it as their own, I'd make their life pretty miserable.
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    • Profile picture of the author Johnny1975
      *** NOTICE *** NOTICE *** NOTICE *** NOTICE *** NOTICE *** NOTICE **

      We do not have to keep going through this again. I get the point. It's been made repeatedly. I get it. No amount of plagiarism is acceptable. I understand.

      I wasn't planning on copying other people's work and I would never do that, it's not my style, it was just a question based on a video that I saw, but my question was misunderstood because when I used the word plagiarism I was using it in the widest possible sense, and that includes taking what someone else has said and making it your own. We all "plagiarise" to some extent. Songwriters do it, inventors do it, authors do it, we all even use everyday phrases and make them our own. I was just asking how much is fair game and when is the line crossed into blatant copying (of which none is acceptable).

      *** END OF NOTICE *** END OF NOTICE *** END OF NOTICE ***

      I guess I should have phrased my question better.
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      • Profile picture of the author keithb89
        Originally Posted by Johnny1975 View Post

        We all "plagiarise" to some extent. Songwriters do it, inventors do it, authors do it, we all even use everyday phrases and make them our own. I was just asking how much is fair game and when is the line crossed into blatant copying (of which none is acceptable).
        I agree just posting "DONT PLAGIARIZE CAUSE ITS WRONG" is reductive and a bit disingenuous as creative people have been "borrowing" from past works for hundreds of years. There's a famous quote, I forget from who, that says originality is simply stealing and being able to effectively cover your tracks.
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  • Its so funny. The OP says s(he) gets it and wont plagiarize but people still keep trying to increase their post count. I totally get where you are coming from OP. We all take inspiration from somewhere and put our own spin to things and "better" existing material to "help" others looking for information, not blatantly copy. You'll do fine if you use your common sense which I'm sure you will. Good luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author ijohnson
    In regards to how much you could expect to make from very small ebooks ... if you plan to sell Kindle books, you should do some research on Amazon/Kindle for other books in your genre and niche.

    Check out where they fall on the bestseller's list or for overall sales, in terms of rank. There is a formula you can use to calculate approximately how much other author's may be making from their sales on any particular hardcopy book or Kindle ebook.

    You may be able to find info on how to figure it out over on Amazon. Determining what another author is making off a Kindle book has probably been discussed here on the WF, too. Conduct a search to find your answer and save yourself some time.

    Hope that helps!
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Hill
    I think I've seen that same video. It's absolutely disgusting to see that and for them to recommend that to people as an option. Not only is it unethical it's illegal.
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  • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
    Originally Posted by Johnny1975 View Post

    How much plagiarising do you think is reasonable? (Plagiarism meaning anything from taking someone's idea and making it your own, to blatant copying, which I know is unacceptable and I wouldn't dream of doing it)
    I try to keep my plagiarising about the same level I keep my body count.

    Half dozen "incidents" a month.

    That is, at least until I get a bigger backyard for burying the stiffs.

    Sucks, because I have to avoid places like, oh, bars, gyms, football games...anywhere testosterone is high and the wrong word, or look (too much eye-contact is territorial), could send me into a sudden fit of murderous rage.

    Also had to stop dating hot chicks....

    You know how it is, less dudes hitting on her, less fits of jealous, Ferrell rage, less bodies etc...man, I REALLY to get that bigger yard.

    Originally Posted by Johnny1975 View Post

    2) Can you really make a modestly reasonable income from writing very short books (whether plagiarised or not)?
    How much?

    Literally six or seven figures a year....but, here's the catch:

    You have to actually give a rip about creating value for your readers. Not making as much money as possible in return for the least work possible.

    In other words, ditch the "plagiarism quota," pick something you have a clue about. You know, something you can write about WITHOUT mooching off other people.

    People pay for value.

    Not bi-products of information recycling.
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  • Profile picture of the author aja akira
    I think you can read anyone writing, after understanding you can write your own work. plagiarism means to use someone writing exactly same. You can his ones writing, but you must use the writer reference.
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    • Profile picture of the author Alexa Smith
      Banned
      Originally Posted by aja akira View Post

      I think you can read anyone writing, after understanding you can write your own work. plagiarism means to use someone writing exactly same.
      Wrong. Creating a derivative work from it, even by completely re-writing it, can also be a breach of copyright.

      Originally Posted by aja akira View Post

      You can his ones writing, but you must use the writer reference.
      This is also incorrect. Contrary to what some forum members seem to imagine, providing a link to the original source does not necessarily absolve a subsequent user from proceedings for breach of copyright, if content is used without explicit permission.

      .
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  • Profile picture of the author Jeffery Moss
    Write from your own point of view, using the first person voice while talking to your reader. This will always make your writing more unique. Very few people can imitate your own style when you are writing from personal experience or opinion. And, this is one of the best ways to convey information that has been written about so many times before as it allows you to say things in your own way that others have not thought of before. In this way you avoid possible plagiarism or copyright infringement.
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  • Profile picture of the author David Hooper
    Curious to know how old that video is. For a while, there were people trying to do that on Amazon, but they've shut a lot of it down and banned the people doing it.

    As far as legality... You can do whatever you want with public domain content, so what he's suggesting may be completely legal.

    Regardless, even if you make a few bucks, it's not a longterm business for most.
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