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I’d originally planned on a NaNo Update because it’s the 30th and NaNo ends tonight. I’ve been kind of off social media because I’ve been working hard to keep my word count up, and keep on NaNo.
Checking in today I can’t help but sigh. I thought after everything with the whole #Cockygate getting massive attention that we were over this and done with it. But no. Apparently not.
Among the posts that I scrolled through to catch up what I’d missed, I come across yet another author complaining that someone ‘stole’ her title.
Can we all repeat after me?
Titles can NOT be copywritten.
Titles can occasionally be the same.
It happens in the publishing world.
Titles that are similar or the same do NOT mean that the books are the same, does NOT mean the plot is the same and DOES NOT mean that the title was stolen from someone else or that they’re trying to ride someone else’s coattails.
Books can share a title, and even a general concept and still be completely different because it’s not the title that should be selling the book. It should be the author – his or her self – and the morals, ethics, and reputation that they build with their community and the craft that’s under that title that sells the book, and not just sells the book but defines the book.
No title, unless it’s a 100% made up word, is going to be unique. While there are a LOT of words in the known languages, they are finite and that means that there will occasionally be similar or duplicate titles. This shouldn’t stop someone from publishing or feeling like they now have to change their title because of it.
If you search ‘Cocky Dragon Slayer’ on Amazon you’ll find five books written by five different authors, with five different covers. All five of us decided to use that same title because it was an experiment to prove to the world that while the titles may be the same, the story that existed behind that title would be vastly different from each other because we are different people and we each have our own unique stories to write.
And that’s exactly what happened. Each tale is unique not because of the cover or title, but because we all had different ideas on where to take the story, how the world our stories take place in worked, and how the mythos in that world unfurled.
So can we please all agree to stop trying to stake claim to words and titles?
We may build our lives out of them, but we don’t own them – unless you choose to create your own language in which case you do to a point own them.
Stop throwing mud at others because a title is similar.
Stop causing a fuss because you think you have the corner on a certain word – you don’t.
And stop thinking that if you do decide to publicly complain about that it will do great things for your community and career. It won’t. Most of us, the ones especially that have crawled out of the dust and debris from #cockygate? We’ll only judge you super hard for it, and potentially blacklist your books – current and future – from our TBR piles because we know a social ploy to grab attention a mile away now.
In the wake of what we’ve been through this year, the try for a public flaying for similar titles isn’t going to work much anymore. Especially not on Twitter. You can’t claim ‘well I didn’t know anymore’. At this point, it’s like stepping willfully in front of a bus, getting hit, and then turning around and claiming that the driver hit you on purpose. We can all see you gauging how fast that bus is coming. We can see you thinking about how much damage it might do versus getting your name out there in the public eye. And we can all see you taking that knowing step into the abyss.
It’s not amusing. It’s not cute. And you’re not the victim here. The person you’re trying to call out on social media, to hundreds of thousands of people? That person is the victim. And you should be ashamed of yourself for even trying this. You’re dragging them across coals for something that you don’t own. And your readers, the ones who will blindly believe you? It will be your fault, and your fire to manage and try to put out if they go after the other person. That’s all on you.
If you’re thinking of trying this? Don’t. You’ll only ruin your reputation with thousands of people who didn’t know you before, and will now for all the wrong reasons.
Trust in the work you do. Trust in your craft and your own creativity. Trust that readers know titles occasionally bump against each other in the night and it doesn’t reflect on the authors’ creativity when that happens, it just means that maybe they find two or three books they’ll enjoy instead of just one.
The author in question that caused me to write this blog post? I’ve heard nothing but good things from their debut novel. It’s been praised left and right on my social media. I have planned to read it to see what all those great things were about, and now? Now I won’t. I have no interest in supporting someone that decides to be this petty and try to ruin another person. There was no need to do this, except that they apparently doubted themselves and their work enough to try to grab attention.
And no, I’m not listing the authors’ names and titles. I’m leaving them out of this blog post on purpose. Why? Because at the end of the day the social media post in question is just adding a log onto a fire that was starting to simmer down instead of a bucket of water that it needed. The who of it isn’t important. The actions are the problem, and so I’m choosing to focus on the actions instead of the person.
Also because this blog post is a call out to all authors out there, not just the one that recently screwed up. Think before you get huffy about someone else sharing your title. The amount of work that you put into that lovingly handpicked title? So did they. They didn’t pick it too to hurt you, steal from you, or use your sale numbers to get ahead. Odds are, even if it’s a best seller, they may not have heard about you – especially if you’re not in the same genre they are. Odds are? It was just a coincidence.
Just let it be that ship passing in the night. Stand on the bow of your ship, hold up your lantern, and wave at each other peacefully. There’s more than enough room in this ocean for everyone.