Books for Kids

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Idea Theft!!

What do you do when you think someone has stolen your story ideas? After all, there is a saying that there are only six basic story ideas in the world; so did our own ideas come from one of them? Of course they did.

However, if you write a story from an idea that just seemed to pop into you head, then some time later (and I stress the 'sometime later' point here) find someone has used that idea to create another story somewhat different but still the same basic plot and ending, should it make you mad? Damn right, it should!

Then when you find that same person has used another of your ideas, well, it's downright cheeky in my opinion. People who steal story idea just go to prove they have no imagination. So it begs the question; are all their stories unoriginal? I think it does, there is an old saying 'monkey see, monkey do' and people without original thoughts or idea will always jump on a good one; if they think they can make a buck or two out of them.

Read this excerpt from a news article by Associated Press:

LOS ANGELES — “Pirates of the Caribbean.” “The Matrix.” “The Last Samurai.” “Broken Flowers.” “Amistad.”

Success isn’t all these films have in common. Each was also challenged by a lawsuit claiming “idea theft” — a common Hollywood problem that lawyers say is likely to continue as long as huge movie studios wield enormous power.

But why would movie studios, with every resource at their disposal, steal stories? Are these writers just cranks, frustrated wannabes with delusions of creativity?

No, says attorney John Marder, who specializes in representing aggrieved writers. Many are victims of a system that favors studios and networks and offers little protection for writers and ideas.

“It’s a small group of people that have all the juice, and if you’re not in that crowd, you’re really at their mercy,” he says. “There’s a real lack of moral compass on the issue in Hollywood. And there’s an ego-driven arrogance about it, like how dare you challenge this producer, this director, this studio? They’ll spend $10 million fighting a case where the demand is $100,000.”

So, lets go back to the original question. What do you do? Well, unfortunately you can do nothing unless the story is a direct rip-off. By that, I mean, it would be plagiarism if it were your story with just minor changes. If it's just the plot idea; however close to your plot, there is no legal redress.

Nevertheless, you can make a noise. Shout about it from the rooftops, write about it on your blog, and post in writers forums. Just be sure to mention no names or the story in question because you might find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit.

Carol x

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What the Kindle Forums are saying about us Indies

While checking my offerings on Amazon I had a wander through the Kindle forums. This is my take on what they had to say about us Indi authors.
The number one complaint seems to be about typos.
It's one of my pet hates too, if you can't afford an editor make sure you turn on the inbuilt spell & grammar checker in your word processing package. Yes, I know this is basic but it's surprising how many don't activate the grammar check. Trust me it does work, and if you get funny squiggly lines under the word or sentence it's because you've done something wrong. Don't just ignore it, keep working at it until you lose the squiggle I promise it will make the sentence sound better. Eventually.
If you're still not sure it's spelt right or looks odd, use the thesaurus to check for synonyms (alternative words), you'd be amazed how many times I've done that and found I was using the wrong spelling of a word to describe something. Oh, and watch for missing words, this usually happens when you're editing for the nth time, 'can't see the woods for the trees' syndrome. Don't give the Kindle trolls grist for their mill,
The second complaint was about homophones.
Now, I must confess I had no idea what a homophone was but I do now, it’s just a technical term for something I’ve always known, and I have to admit they have driven me mad when I see them in a book. For those like myself who have lived most of their life in ignorance of the technical term homophone, they are words that sound the same but are spelt differently and have different meanings IE: there/their, your/you're, hair/hare, break/brake, flower/flour, night/knight, affect/effect.
The list is long so if you don't know the correct spelling for the sentence you are writing, look up homophones on line, there are plenty of sites 'spelling 'it out. Don't get too down about this I've read books by famous authors with incorrect or missing words. However, because we are self published we need to think like the women pioneers in a male dominated job, we need to be better than the established authors to rise to the top.
Number three was dubious reviews.
It seems they don't like it if we get too many 5 star reviews because they think we get our friends and family to use reviews as propaganda to improve our sales. Well, as we know, friends and family will always give a good review, although my family haven't so far... :( So, what do we do about our love ones?
I suppose we could always be as honest as one author I read, he commented below the review that it was from a friend. His frank disclosure was refreshing so I bought the book. You could always ask some of those loved ones to give 3 & 4 star reviews, though I doubt they'd be able to force their finger down the star list. Maybe I'll try that, if any of my family or friends, ever get round to giving me a review.
Number four was cover art.
Apparently, according to the trolls, too few Indi’s take the time to obtain a good cover for their book. We all know the saying 'don't judge a book by it's cover' but the trolls are turned off by some of our covers. Ok, this again comes down to cost, and not all of us can afford to employ cover artist.
Of course, you might just be capable of doing it yourself, so think about exchanging skills with another writer. Do you need an editor? Offer to do a cover for their book, and they return the favour.
The only other thing I can think of to combat this is, to capture a geek. Awww! come on people, we all know a geek of some sort, ask around and pick the youngest one, they are the most clued in. They often do it free for the kudos. Just promise them a credit in the book, and don't forget to follow through on your promise. Having said all that, I don't judge a book by its cover, I mostly go by the blurb so make sure it's a killer.
So there we have it, the top four complaints from the Kindle Trolls. Check your books my friends and let's make them the best they can be, our reputation depends in it.
Carol x
PS One of my characters has escaped