Books Front Matter

How Publishers, Self-Publishers, Writers, and Readers Can Work Together to Avoid Plagiarism


For a writer, getting a book published is an epic milestone — one that can take years or a lifetime of hard work. Only part of that work actually involves putting words on paper. The rest of the struggle is navigating through the publishing system to finally get the book into readers’ hands.

But technology is changing that. It’s now possible for authors to take control of the entire publishing process. Self-publishing platforms are making it easy — or at least easier — for them to become published authors. But for some writers, self-publishing has been more of a nightmare than the dream they’d hoped for.

But those are my words!

Self-publishing platforms allow anyone to turn their words — good, bad, or ugly — into published books. Authors can upload their work, pay a fee, and their books are instantly available to whomever cares to read — or steal — them. As many writers and publishers are finding out, self-publishing platforms not only facilitate publishing pages but can also facilitate theft. Without the same controls publishers use to get books to print, there’s little to stop a wannabe writer from appropriating self-published words and making them his or her own.


From ideas to chapters and entire books, plagiarism is an undesired consequence of DIY publishing. Not only does it threaten the ability of authors and publishers to profit from their agreements but it is also a personal attack on their creativity and credibility. It’s small consolation that readers eventually discover most of these plagiarists, due in large part by the very internet that allows it to happen. Many plagiarism discoveries occur because of the wide availability of these works.

Social media, forums, and book review platforms allow readers to interact as they uncover similarities in different books and disclose information on these thieves to those who self-publish. But the damage is often already done — to writers’ reputations as well as their wallets and the self-publishing platform brand. While Amazon claims to try to halt such practices and remove plagiarized books, it is granted Safe Harbor status by law and is not held accountable for publishing plagiarized content.

The solution? Engage with the community of audience members and use them and the platforms they communicate in to keep an eye out for potential plagiarism.

How publishers help

As a publisher or host of a self-publishing platform, you have a vested interest in protecting your authors’ intellectual property because you, not the authors, hold the copyright. Plagiarism threatens not only your profits and reputation but also your ability to continue working with your authors on future projects.

Reputable publishers and self-publishing platform owners work with authors to educate them on copyright law and copyright infringement as well as how to prevent and detect it. They use rigorous techniques such as copy-detection software to ensure works are original. They also help to resolve these problems. Often, a simple contact with an offending author or publisher is enough, but in other cases, publishers have the means and experience to resolve such situations legally.


Self-publishing can help writers get their work published and distributed faster and easier. But by providing quality assistance and education to authors and potential authors, traditional publishers and those with self-publishing platforms can help their writers avoid the pitfalls that others face today.

Contact your Sheridan representative for a consultation to discuss how Sheridan can streamline your publishing processes.

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