Warning: There are many links in here. Follow them so you can see the path of deception for yourself.

A little while ago, I wrote about some troubling examples of plagiarism including one in the world of romance novels. Yesterday, I tried to follow how quickly the scandal unfolded that an author named Jordin Williams plagiarized two major New Adult romance books written by Tammara Webber and Jamie McGuire.

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On the site Dear Author, they broke how Amazingly Broken lifted entire passages out of Webber’s book Easy and out of McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster. If you look at the Dear Author post, they show the comparisons of excerpts from Amazingly Broken, presumably written by a 26-year-old ghost writer named Jordin Williams, and Webber’s and McGuire’s bestselling books. And it’s not like the parts lifted were changed. They were complete passages.

When the scandal unfolded, tweets were traded on Twitter with the supposed author Williams as captured on GalleyCat.

As the day progressed, it seemed as if other people discovered that the plagiarism went further into fan fiction territory where someone, possibly Williams, posted it on a fan fiction site first and then made it part of the novel. That opens some questions into what fan fiction is and how close to the plagiarism line it dances.

But that’s not all. As today started, I noticed that there were more connections within the New Adult romance circles. Now, instead of just the one possibly plagiarizing author Jordin Williams, there seemed to be even more accounts on Goodreads and Facebook that cross-promoted each other’s books. While it’s not proven yet, suspicion has risen because of the large amount of deletion to accounts.

If you want to truly follow the possible trail of plagiarism that could point to a larger, more sinister plan of cheating, Teresa Mymmert has broken down the Plagiarism Plot including a flow chart of suspicion.

Plagiarism is not new in publishing. Although I’m sure there may be a backlash to those who self-publish because of the recent notoriety these incidences are getting, there have been examples of authors whose works were found to copy whole passages from other works and still make it through the publishing mill. One such example was Kaavya Viswanathan who wrote How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life and even got interest in movie rights before they found different passages taken from different novels.

With the increase of digital material and genres that do well in digital sales, there may be more incidences of plagiarism to be found. Over a year ago with the popularity of Fifty Shades, there seemed to be issues with plagiarism within erotica. One major example got coverage on NPR. Since then, readers have become the best investigators who have discovered when novels released have lifted passages.

There’s more to this latest case than just the problem of plagiarism. Part of why this one particular book, now taken down from Amazon and other retailers, got attention is because it did so well over just a few days. And why did it do well? Because whoever this person is that set it up did their homework. They played the PR game like a pro.

One of the ways for authors to get attention is to do a blog tour. Some are paid for and some are voluntary, but an author can get onto well-read blogs and pick up some readers. Yesterday, there were many blog sites that had a review and interview with Jordin Williams. Today, many of those have disappeared. I appreciate Evie on her blog for giving a note about the plagiarism issue and still including the interview: http://evie-bookish.blogspot.com/2013/06/amazingly-broken-by-jordin-williams.html

The cheating author also chose a specific genre – the new adult romance. This is a genre that’s been getting a lot of customers lately, especially with the explosion from authors like McGuire and H.M. Ward. NA is the new YA, and there are a lot of new books out tagged in this genre every day. So why did the plagiarizer choose this genre? Perhaps it’s because it does so well. Perhaps it’s because the readers buy similar books, but isn’t that the case in every genre?

Another reason why this is getting so much outrage is because the plagiarism was so overt. But that also needs to be a worrying factor. If there are others out there who are sneakier about hiding the plagiarism, are there other books out there that cheat the system, just better? For a plagiarism case, if it turns out that all the supposed other possible accounts of cheating attached to this Jordin Williams issue, then it may open a huge worrying can of worms.

So what’s the recourse at the moment? Amazon is issuing a full refund to those who bought the book. The book’s site has been taken down. All accounts associated with the writer and the book have disappeared. But what’s left in its wake is a large amount of disappointed readers and some freaked out writers, myself included. More will be uncovered and more reactions will be had as this amazingly broken incident of plagiarism gains attention. Stay tuned for more thoughts…

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