One of the ways, I suppose, that I can say I’ve ‘made’ it is when my non-fiction books are used as reference sources.
I’ve had a few picked up as university texts over the years, which is great.
Another badge of acceptance is when they are ripped off. And for some reason there are a couple of books of mine that the plagiarists seem to home in on like bees to a honeypot.
Back in the early 1990s I wrote a history of Hawke’s Bay – a social analysis which was published in 1994 by Dunmore Press, then the de facto publisher for Massey University. It’s still in print, though not actively marketed – I field occasional royalty cheques. And it won me an academic award in 1996.
Over the years it’s become the standard interpretation. And it’s been ripped off mercilessly. Slabs of my text have appeared in all sorts of places – the Napier City Council website, for instance. And the book was also apparently used as the basis for an entry in the official online government encyclopaedia, which repeated my interpretation, chapter titles, some phrasing, and the structure of one chapter particularly.
That’s been sorted, but the problem with such widespread online use of my wording is that if I were to put any on line myself – as I am entitled to do, being copyright owner – it’s likely a Google-bot or Amazon-droid will claim it’s ripped off. Whereas in fact things are the other way around. Sigh.
The other book that seems to have attracted its share of flattery is Quake – Hawke’s Bay 1931, which went through two editions from 2001 but which is long out of print. Over a decade ago I found an article written by a history enthusiast which was a straight rip – all he’d done is paraphrase my book, sometimes without altering the wording. After consulting my publishers – I tackled the author.
It turned out the problem was the usual one; someone not qualified or experienced in the field had decided to label themselves ‘an Historian’ on the basis of their enthusiasm and had begun writing, without knowing how the process actually worked.
He offered to compensate me by taking me out to lunch, which I politely declined.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2016