If you are one of those authors who get shocked and say "someone stole my book!", let me tell you how exactly you should deal with it. Check out this article to know more about self-publishing and how to protect your books from being stolen.
Today's article has three points and you're going to want to stick around for the third point. Because it is a secret as to the one thing that is most important to do to protect you and your book from getting stolen.
Today's topic is someone stole my book! I know what you're all thinking. You've taken all of this time to write a book that is of high quality whether it's fiction or non-fiction. Only to put it onto the market and for somebody to either buy the book or get it from some other way.
They download the book, they rip the contents out of the book, and then they are selling your book on Amazon on another site or even just giving it away for free. What are you supposed to do to protect yourself with copywriting or trademarking or something else?
Because after all those people are now stealing your content and we need to know what is it that you should do to best protect yourself from this exact situation. And that is what we're going to explore in today's article.
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Here's my own story and this happened only within the last six months. I have around 200 books plus on the market since 2017. When I put one of my books onto the market back then, Amazon sent me a warning message telling me that the book that I'd put out on the market was no longer valid.
Because the content in my book was easily available on the internet. Now that was a bit of a shock for me since the book that I was selling has been there for 4 years. I think it was December 2017 when this particular book was put onto the market.
So after having been on the market for such a period, how is it possible that it would be easily available on the internet? Now I used Copyscape.com to ensure that this book was not pirated or stolen content. So this particular book was a ghostwritten book that I had put on the market back then.
And maybe a very high selling book in its own right over the years has made. I don't know, maybe thousands of dollars for this particular book but then suddenly hearing that somebody had stolen it. Whenever I would go this route, you always want to make sure you use a tool like what I'm using which is Copyscape.com.
I am not a partner or an affiliate but this is an amazing program. So I use it now because it costs only about 10 cents per scan of the content that you're using. It then suddenly showed me, somebody who had put up in 2020, had taken my book and put it onto their blog for the same non-fiction topic.
The problem with this particular thing was that this book then was suddenly showing up on Amazon. They were scanning and crawling the entire internet to see if the content I was using was already used. Some people discovered they could take Wikipedia articles and throw them onto Amazon and start making money.
Now you'll be thinking this is like scamming people. Well, not really because the fact is no information is completely new but you hadn't written it or given it. That you had taken it from them and Amazon wants new and unique content in your voice, not somebody else's.
So we had a problem, I had content that was showing up on somebody's website that has been there since 2020. Why did they do that? Well, it is to make them established as an expert on this topic and also to drive ads, ad revenue from Google Ads.
They were running onto their particular site so you can sort of see how they would do that. Now they could also sell my entire book, that's another option that they would have. But they were using it as content for their blog which would also give them within Google.
The thing is I sent the evidence to Amazon showing them that "look, this web page did have the content on there since 2020 but my book was published in 2017 so they've stolen this from me". And then Amazon agreed to restore the status of my book without any problems.
This is the first time that I've seen this particular thing happen where Amazon would do it. The same also happens to some writers when they would actually take your exact content and then they would put it onto Amazon itself. Where they would just publish and take one of your books.
They would strip the content out of it which is easy enough to do using a couple of pieces of software. Then taking that and shoving it back on Amazon and selling it as their book. Since it's selling so well, why not just sell it as their own?
But Amazon notices this sort of practice as well. And they will ban your account for doing something like that. But there's a couple of things here that are not so obvious and I know you're thinking like what's the point of even putting content out there if they're going to steal for me in the first place?
That is the reason we have three points that I want to hit. Someone stole my book! Well, the first thing is when Amazon warns you and this is very important it almost should be the secret tip of the day. It is that you need to respond immediately.
A Whack-A-Mole Situation
Usually, there are many robots, keep in mind they don't have people sitting around all day just looking and reading your book and then surfing the internet. It's robots that are doing this, so that's the first thing. Even the letter that was sent to me probably did not even necessarily involve a human at all to get that out.
In other words, they could have had it completely done. Scraping the web, they find content that matches my content and they automatically send an email to me. Now at this point, you need to respond quickly within a couple of days.
The first thing I did was look if it's easily available, I should be able to find it. So I used Copyscape.com to find that exact document. I was able to put my entire book into this Copyscape and it then looked over the entire internet.
Now it did cost me about 30-40 cents for this particular scam but was it worth it? Of course, it was worth it because it showed me exactly who was stealing my content on which websites. So then I was able to go to those websites and find the exact thing.
I responded to Amazon, it was actually within the same day. If you wait a week, they will assume you're guilty because not responding, suggests you're guilty. They can shut your account down, now keep in mind this entire process does not necessarily involve humans at all.
It is a lot easier to respond because when we respond, their robots cannot read our responses. So they bring humans in right away and we can clear this thing up within a matter of hours. As opposed to allowing yourself to say, "well I'll just ignore this warning from Amazon".
Then they shut your entire account down and you're left to try to figure this whole thing out. Then later you come to Amazon and say "why are you freezing it?" and they'd say "oh because we sent you a warning you didn't respond to it". It's a lot harder to open up an account that's been shut.
Keep in mind sometimes that with Amazon, they could shut your entire account down and all of your books. Because of one simple person who stole from you and you simply didn't respond. By the way, it is important to respond regardless of what issue it is.
If Amazon sends you a warning of any sort, you have the responsibility to make sure that you are getting back in touch with them to respond and letting them know you take it seriously. So we can get a human involved in the process as opposed to being auto-banned from Amazon without a single human being involved in it.
So this single tip here by the way will save you a lot of pain that many other authors have experienced with their books on Amazon. You do not want to have your book or account shut down because you simply fail to respond and take seriously their warnings. You need to keep that in mind.
But that is not my secret tip so let's move on to number two. Don't worry about people ripping off your content it is a whack-a-mole situation. Now you may be wondering what are we talking about.
Check out this related article: Your Self-Published Book Is Judged By Its Cover
Well, we're talking about when you go to a carnival, they have these little games. I remember when I was a kid in the 80s, I would go to Chucky Cheese and there would be this whack-a-mole game. Where the little mole would stick his head up and you have a little paddle with a little rubber thing around it.
You bang on that whack-a-mole and if you hit it down, you get some points. But the second you've done that, the next little mole comes upright. You see these little plastic moles coming up and you're trying to hit them as fast as you can.
You're not getting others, you can spend an awful lot of time doing this. And I am telling you that you don't need to worry about people ripping off your content. So it's a compliment to you in many ways.
If you look at the top authors, all of their books are completely free on legal sites, people are continually doing it. Now I would say that if you have a whole set of lawyers, let them work out. Let them track these people down and stuff like that but you should not be so worried about it.
So many new authors are worried about people stealing from them. They aren't realizing the fact that your biggest problem is not people stealing from you. But rather something else that is bigger which is just being discovered in the first place.
It's a compliment to you that somebody wishes to steal your content and put it on the internet. Some of these people who steal will even leave your affiliate links or links that are within your book in place. They will also leave even your name in place.
They'll make it easy for people to find your other books. They just do complete utter rip-offs. Even sometimes leisure lead generation is where it shows them where they can sign up for your newsletter. So in other words, these people who are stealing from you actually can increase your total sales over time.
I know it sounds completely crazy but if your book is optimized to get these followers and these readers with lead magnets in your book. Trying to get them onto your email list and also pushing to your other books or your other affiliate links. These people can result in you making more money not less.
So do not get so worried about it. Also, it is the whack-a-mole situation. If one person does it, then you go after them, and then they'll take your book down and then somebody else will come up with your same book.
Amazon Had A Date-Time Stamp
But here's the secret of the day, you only need to publish your book first, that's the key issue. The second you've put your book on Amazon, it has a date-time stamp on that book.
So anybody else who comes out with an identical copy or stealing from your book or putting your book available on another website or the internet, you don't need to worry at all about that. Because you had the first copy.
Now if Amazon or any other publisher whether it's Ingram Spark or Lulu or maybe Draft2Digital or Smashwords comes to you and says "look we believe you're putting content that's already available", you simply have to show them you were the first. You have that date-time stamp that protects you.
We also, of course, have a copyright page but it's somewhat misunderstood here. It's thinking that you have to pay thousands of dollars to get some formal copyright to protect yourself. In reality, you've got the stuff, you've got the proof you had it first on the internet.
Also as we pointed out before, we don't want to get into a whack-a-mole situation. Where we're trying to use what you're going to pay for a team of lawyers to go after a 16-year-old in Indonesia who stole your book. It is just trying to make some AdSense sales on your book.
We're not dealing with top-level professionals here, it's a waste of your time to go after these people. We wish to be discovered and that's our goal. Our goal is not to see if we can smash some 16 years old on the other side of the planet for making a few cents off of our book.
If your book is correct, we should be getting sales as a result of that 16-year-old. But we do need to make sure that we had our book out there on the market first. So that we can tell Amazon and they don't ban our accounts should this little problem be discovered.
I can tell you from my book, I did not even do a takedown request against that individual. Look if they want to use my book as some content, they're free to do that. I just need to protect myself from Amazon itself.
And it's a compliment, I understand some people can't pay for ghostwriters. They can't write the content themselves, they're going to steal and that's fine. I'm not going to go after those people.
I take it as a compliment, I'm not going to send a team of lawyers after them. What do I think I'm going to get? I'll tell you what I'm going to get, a huge bill for my lawyers.
Those people will take the book down, they're never going to be found again. And then somebody else will maybe put the content out somewhere else. I am going to take it seriously when Amazon warns me and we go from there.
Ultimately, my books are going to make more sales for me when somebody else posts that content. That's just the reality of the thing. Also if you throw your name throughout the book when they do post your content, little do they know they're pushing your other books for you.
Do you see how this goes? In other words, you're saying in your non-fiction books, maybe even in your fiction books, the beginning material/preface and also at the ending of your books, usually it's the non-fiction that's going to be stolen in this sense.
Put on somebody's blog you know for maybe Keto Diet or Puppy Training. Or maybe How To Take Care of Your Lawn or Vertical Gardening or whatever it might be that you have on your non-fiction that they're going to put that content on there.
But if you put links to your other books, your affiliate links, and also links to your email list within your book, when they steal that content, it's just going to lead to more sales. And that's the one secret I want you to consider deep down.
I also hit that subject of the copywriting issue which is you've got the book out, you have evidence that you were the first. You were the one who created that content. Now if they steal the content before you've managed to get this far, then we have another problem.
This is why I run all of my books through Copyscape to make sure that it's 100 original material that's being generated. Because Copyscape is amazing at finding even small sentences. I remember originally just playing with Fiverr with ghostwriting over there as well and they would just nail these people.
Then what did Fiverr do? They would ban those writers, those freelance writers/ghostwriters from their entire website. They would refund my money so I would never want to do it. Because if you put material out onto Amazon, that is somebody else's material that they published.
First, Copyscape will find that material. What they're going to do is they're going to punish you for that. They can shut your entire account down, so do not take that risk. Copyscape.com is a very cheap way of solving this issue and I am not an affiliate of theirs.
I just find theirs to be the cheapest, the best software that is currently available on the market for that. But I have a question for you. Have you ever had someone swipes your book contents? Have you ever been shocked and said "someone stole my book!"
If you have, write "Yes" below in the comments and if you've never had that happen, write "No" below in the comments because I need to know where you're coming from.
If this issue is relevant for your books or maybe you're even just worried about the copyright issue. Let me know because I need to know where exactly you're coming from. Check out my other articles and videos for more answers to your self-publishing questions.