Last year I wrote a very popular blog post titled “Tolkien’s 10 Tips for Writers”. It was the product of several months of pouring through Tolkien’s letters found in “The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien” by Humphrey Carpenter. I performed all of the research into the letters myself, designed all of the tips tailored as I felt Tolkien would express them, and have enjoyed some pretty excellent blog activity because of it.
Sometimes we write content that is original and interesting. I am always trying to do that. “Tolkien’s Tips” was completely original in that it was a result of my pouring through Tolkien’s letters to figure out what the master of fantasy would think about writing and the process of writing. I am not a plagiarist. Apparently, however, some bloggers seem to want to use the success I have had with that post to boost their own blog activity.
It is frustrating to spend several months on a project only to have someone claim that the work is theirs. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by who did it: EssayMomma.com, a write-for-hire essay service designed for lazy college students.
My beef is with EssayMomma who (for a fee) will write original college essays and even dissertations for miscreant college students who are not willing to get by on their own acumen but who would pay someone else to help them get a degree. One cannot simply contact EssayMomma without paying for something. Ethically, EssayMomma is at fault here. The info graphic has also been featured on Galley Cat and on the Daily Beast (not to mention other blogs by people I will not mention), with only a small nod to my hard work, a blurry link to the original article html on the info graphic. Most of these articles are writing things like “a wonderful info graphic written by EssayMomma”, which is a complete lie since EssayMomma wrote absolutely nothing original, robbing from my original article entirely. I have written kindly-worded letters to Mediabistro and to Daily Beast about it, and hopefully they will get back to me.
I am thankful to people like Jonathan Gunson over at Bestseller Labs who asked me to feature a guest blog on his site where he jazzed up my original post with cool pictures and the like. However, he knew that I wrote the post as an original text and gave me credit for it. He drove traffic to his site that way, but I also benefitted from it. I don’t mind re-blogging, as if have said above. I welcome re-blogs because they give original credit to the author, but also drive traffic to the site that re-blogged the article in an honest and ethical way. Writers should share with each other but help each other in the same motion. Jonathan Gunson benefitted from my guest post and so did I. This info graphic is at best a mugging in a darkened blogger alleyway.
What I have learned from all of this is that when someone does plagiarize your work, it doesn’t do any good to become vindictive and rant to the people who plagiarized.
Send kindly worded e-mails to the people involved with evidence of the plagiarism, offering for an interview or guest blog of the original author.
Most times the plagiarism occurs second hand from the person who plagiarized it. These people are partly to blame for not checking their sources. I suppose the bright side of this is that the tips are going out to more writers who can use them, but if they want more detailed comments and in depth analysis of what Tolkien wrote in his letters (not to mention added comments about discoveries I’ve made since the article was originally written) they should probably go visit my original blog post. My comments are much more in-depth, and the analysis is better for writers who want meat rather than pat-on-the-back pablum.