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Hi,

I published a contemporary romance series back in December 2014 and was pretty proud of it.

Anyway, I few weeks ago, I saw an interesting-looking contemporary romance on free promotion on Bookbub so I downloaded it. From the book's blurb, I could tell that the plot was quite similar to mine - forbidden love between a student and a successful businessman - and was excited to see what another author would do with the plot. (Note: this book was released in 2012)

So, I downloaded the book and I enjoyed it so much that I bought the rest of the books in the series. Problem is, I feel like my book is TOO similar to that other book. Gut-wrenchingly so. The characters in the other book work in the same industry as the characters in my book. The dialogue is similar. The book covers are similar. The characters in the other book go on dates in the same places that the characters in my book go. The characters in the other book even went to see the same movie as the characters in my book.

I definitely did not plagarize the book. I had never even heard of it before I saw the Bookbub ad a few weeks ago and I obviously hadn't read it.

Now, I'm wondering if I should rework my books or pull them or what...

What would you do?
 

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Is it possible that you've read the book before and forgot? Just asking if that's possible.

Otherwise… In your shoes, as long as I was 100% certain I'd never read the book before, I'd leave it, look for the differences between the works, and contact the other book's author to give her a heads-up along the lines of how surprised you are at the similarities between your books, great minds think alike, and with the differences X, Y, and Z…would she be interested in a cross-promotion arrangement?

If I freaked out over similarities, there's one author I wouldn't be able to enjoy, because her books already have major plot elements and even made-up names that I've used in my writing before reading her books. Even my writing style was similar to hers, when I first read her, where there were word-for-word sentences and creative phrasings that matched the first book I'd read by her, in things that I'd written well before I'd read the author's work.

We all have people who think along the same lines we do, and life and local and world events will trigger some same ideas for people. My Chronicles of Marsdenfel is necessarily unusual-in part because I started it by looking at a trope list and figuring out how to either use them legitimately or thumb my nose at them. I've still not found another author who embodies all that I am aiming for with that series, but I've found things like, "Oh, this is comparable in X manner, but not Y."

One of the few comparable-in-type-of-fantasy-world-and-overall-tone authors I've found finished her series and announced her next project…with pretty much the same tagline I was using for a story world I'd already created, though I'd not released anything in that world. I only had a short story finished, so I released that, and I still haven't been able to get back to that world, because I have to finish some other stories first, but at least I have that published before hers.

So my advice is to take a deep breath and look for the differences. :)

bizmuth said:
Technically, plagiarism is word-for-word copying.
Not exactly. Paraphrases can be plagiarism, too, like if you take another person's book and rewrite it scene-by-scene.
 

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Actually books with the same theme in the same genre can end up being pretty similar.  I have read several fantasy romance books now with a Norse theme...and they all have the same elements - gods who happen to be on earth waiting for Ragnarok to happen, three Norns interfering with their destiny, a human girl who discovers she is one of the gods or related to them and of course falls in love with two of the gods or Valkeries and cannot decide whom she should really love or trust...it becomes pretty predictable. 

However if you say "the dialogue is similar" does it mean that the words and sentences actually correspond?  If so then you could get into trouble for plagiarism.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the feedback!

Carradee said:
Is it possible that you've read the book before and forgot? Just asking if that's possible.
Not possible. I was only reading about 3-4 contemporary romance authors at that point
 

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Don't sweat it. There are very few original ideas floating around anymore, and I'm sure there are some profound differences in your book that set your stories apart. After all, two writers can take the same "plot" and end up with two completely polar endings.

 

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Plagiarism is pretty tough in the fiction writing world to do without conscious intent.  Having the same ideas, same plots, even similarly named characters is not plagiarism.  Presenting them the same way is.  Take Time Travel for example.  There are only three general plots for time travel.  Exploring, escaping, and changing history.  Every time travel book is plagiarizing each other as would every boy meets girl book if having the same idea or plot was plagiarism.  Now if you write a book about a kid who uses a car to go back in time and seeks the help of the wacky professor to get back, but also has to get his parents to hook up after he messes it up, then you're starting to plagiarize Back to the Future.  It's the presentation of the ideas, plots and such that need to be unique.  You can still write a book about a kid going back in time who inadvertently messes up his parents getting together and not plagiarize Back to the Future.

Now plagiarism in the academic and research world is very different.  It's rampant and people get burned for it every year.  I feel that most plagiarism fears stem from our time in school and college where the punishments for plagiarism, intentional or not, were severe.

 

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k1234 said:
Hi,

I published a contemporary romance series back in December 2014 and was pretty proud of it.

Anyway, I few weeks ago, I saw an interesting-looking contemporary romance on free promotion on Bookbub so I downloaded it. From the book's blurb, I could tell that the plot was quite similar to mine - forbidden love between a student and a successful businessman - and was excited to see what another author would do with the plot. (Note: this book was released in 2012)

So, I downloaded the book and I enjoyed it so much that I bought the rest of the books in the series. Problem is, I feel like my book is TOO similar to that other book. Gut-wrenchingly so. The characters in the other book work in the same industry as the characters in my book. The dialogue is similar. The book covers are similar. The characters in the other book go on dates in the same places that the characters in my book go. The characters in the other book even went to see the same movie as the characters in my book.

I definitely did not plagarize the book. I had never even heard of it before I saw the Bookbub ad a few weeks ago and I obviously hadn't read it.

Now, I'm wondering if I should rework my books or pull them or what...

What would you do?
Is the movie a reasonable date-night movie from the real world? For the dates - are we talking "dinner and a movie", or "pancakes and apple pie at Bob's Late-Nite Diner on Sixth Street in Tinyville, Kansas"? Specificity, I mean. Specificity is important.

I empathize, though - I devour anything that shares any kind of keywordish similarity to my work partly because it's what I like to read, and partly because I'm paranoid of being accused of wrongdoing (even if I read the book AFTER publishing mine!). In every case, it's just my own pareidolia (edit) apophenia and paranoia. I ran across a book with an alarmingly similar name coincidence (in word-salad fantasy, not like two characters named Joe Smith), but let it go in the end. Nobody's going to notice.

TL;DR - It's probably the brain's innate need to make patterns out of everything. And I agree about asking somebody else to compare & contrast. I bet it's not that bad.
 

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Melody Simmons said:
Actually books with the same theme in the same genre can end up being pretty similar. I have read several fantasy romance books now with a Norse theme...and they all have the same elements - gods who happen to be on earth waiting for Ragnarok to happen, three Norns interfering with their destiny, a human girl who discovers she is one of the gods or related to them and of course falls in love with two of the gods or Valkeries and cannot decide whom she should really love or trust...it becomes pretty predictable.
That sameness doesn't just expand to Norse romance. That describes a huge chunk of the Viking & Norse category on Amazon, and I frequently wonder if that sameness is working against me.
 
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