Money in the bank…Dollar, dollar bills y’all!
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery.
When I first started sharing the story I am sharing on my page presently, Love Unrequited, on this blog, I got the surprise of my life.
Three of my readers reached out to me to say they saw the story on some other sites. Three different sites and none of them attributed the story to me.
One of the sites simply put it up as its own work, no attribution to me or any reference to my site whatsoever. Another changed the name of the characters of the story (at least he did some work), kept the story exactly as it was (word for word) and simply posted it on his site automatically attributing the work to himself. The third person put it on his Facebook page, and when I reached out to him, he said I should be happy he is helping me share my work. This is from someone who never wrote any byline anywhere saying the work was mine. He also claimed credit for what he didn’t do.
What did I do when these loyal readers of mine pointed this out to me? I reached out to each of them, threatened and cajoled in turns until they did the needful. Two of them apologized and removed the story, the third one refused to acknowledge or reply my messages.
I am sure there are a lot more instances out there which I don’t know of. I knew of these ones because I had loyal readers who knew my work anywhere and were willing to call my attention to it when I am being cheated. In other words, I had die hard fans.
In this instance, imitation was not flattery at all. It was painful to see my work out there, free of charge without it being attributed to me. This was one of the reasons why I decided to stop posting stories on my blog (story for another day). Anyone who wants to read from me either buys my books or joins my mailing list to receive free stories.
Three lessons I took away from this experience:
1. Be a great writer. Develop your writing voice to the extent that everybody can recognize your work anywhere without seeing your name on it.
2. When you are just starting out, especially as a fiction writer, you might need to share your works for free. Do this, without reservation. Share one or two stories to get people to know you and love your works, then build on that.
3. Develop an amazing relationship with your readers so much that they will share your works and defend you anywhere.
Your readers are gold, they are money in the bank. Dollar, dollar bills y’all!