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The Strange Case of Jordin Williams

Wednesday, 26 June 2013
(This post is a compilation of the information that can be found in different corners of the internet. I have not mentioned any of the things that are not backed up with evidence. Sources of information - The original post revealing the plagerism and information from the commentsJamie McGuire's twitter, Jordin Williams twitter and website (before deletion), http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1384890-copying-only-parts-of-a-book-plagiarism, http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1152912-same-book-two-different-authors, https://word.office.live.com/wv/WordView.aspx?FBsrc=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fdownload%2Ffile_preview.php%3Fid%3D478238672270057%26time%3D1372344273%26metadata&access_token=1210097847%3AAVI5aGkpvm57k9ltAM8QEaoARJ_hC_sILV5uw2rjNbI3zg&title=Plagiarism+Plot+Thickens.docx, Link between all the aliases

Nothing is yet proven and I am not personally accusing any of the people mentioned. I am merely compiling the information from other places into one easy to read post.)

So you have probably heard the news that is blowing up the twitter-sphere at the moment. About a week ago a new NA book was released, readers thought it was amazing and it started flying through the amazon charts to quickly land its way in the top 100. Earlier today someone realised why the book is so good. Allegedly it is plagiarised.

Dear Author posted this that compares sections of two bestselling NA novels Beautiful Disaster and Easy to the newly released Amazingly Broken by Jordin Williams. If you look at the comparisons you can clearly see that almost entire paragraphs have been copied with only a few tweaks being made. Accusations got thrown towards the author. That was then things started to get weird.

Jordin Williams' argument - The book was ghost written and she did not know about the plagiarism. There are 2 things overly off about that argument -

  1. Ghost writing makes sense when it is for a "big name" author backed a publisher. But a new, planning to self-pub author commissioning a ghost-writer? Really?
  2. Jordin's author bio says "Jordin Williams is a 26 year old ghostwriter turned author. She lives in Iowa and has always loved to sit down and read a good book. When she started ghostwriting books they would become popular even though she was never given any credit so she decided to write her own book, Amazingly Broken." If that is the case that she wanted recognition for her own work then why on earth would she hire a ghostwriter?!

And her review on goodreads -

Picture from @peggysmartinez on twitter
Although I suppose this could just be the author overcompensating for the fact she didn't write it and it was indeed ghostwritten.

Also when the author first mentioned the ghost writer she said they had been hired through a site called Guru, when later asked she said it was through a different site called odesk (forgetting her lies maybe?)

The author just keeps making things worse for herself on twitter as well as making everyone following the story very confused. Apparently she is not a ghostwriter and cannot write. Ummm? Am I the only one confused?


After some more confusion it also appears the "author" is male and the author profile pic is a photo from a model agency. They also previously published a book that they advertised on Jamie McGuire's author page without permission.


***EDIT*** - An author interview with Jordin that can be seen here states that Easy, Rule and Wallbanger are her favourite books and that H.M. Ward is the author who most inspired her. So, we know for a fact that she has read Easy.***

Just when we all thought this story couldn't possibly get more complicated. Somehow it did. A few people have mentioned that this twilight fan-fiction Amazingly Damaged seems to be the same book. The characters have just had their names changed. This does not mean that the writer of Amazingly Damaged is this "Jordin Williams", they could be an unknowing victim of HUGE plagiarism. Or they could be "Jordin". No one knows. I have not compared these two books for myself but I have heard they are identical.

Amazingly Broken has now been removed from amazon and the authors website, goodreads profile, facebook page and twitter account have now been deleted. However, lots of people have screenshots of EVERYTHING so you can still see it all. On the Internet information never disappears.

This story of Amazingly Broken is a bit of a mystery. I can't even theorize anymore as it has gotten way too confusing. Unless "Jordin Williams" decides to put us out of our misery explaining this mass of chaos we will probably never fully know.

It is such a shame to think that there are people out their who steal other people's work (and equally sad that they are stupid enough to steal from bestselling novels). Hopefully this whole fiasco will discourage this behaviour in the future, and hopefully "Jordin" won't pop up under a new name with a new plagiarised book in the future.

Authors have been hurt by having their work stolen, the readers who have read Amazingly Broken feel cheated and scammed, and the bloggers who promoted the book feel even worse (though of course they did not know). Plagiarism only hurts and it needs to stop. We need to be vigilant; if you ever read a book and a paragraph gives you deja-vu don't just move on. Amazon needs to install some form of plagiarism checker (am I right in saying there isn't one at the moment?). They will probably need lots of encouragement for this to happen.

If there is anything I have missed in this story please let me know! There is also a chance other books have also been plagiarised into this book; I dread to think what will be unearthed now people are looking.

***EDIT 27/06/13*** - There is a possibility that this person has done things like this before. Allegations (as yet unproved) have been made that Jordin Williams also has published works under the names Emily Curran and Liz Thomas. If I am remembering correctly Emily Curran is also the same person who created the goodreads group and blog Booksy Cup freebies and bargains (I got a invite to this from Emily Curran and though she is not visible as a moderator the blog states an Emily as the creator. Also according to an old goodreads discussion I found about these two authors they are also linked to someone called Beth Klein.


Some of the books by these authors also apparently have a similarity or two to Easy and Beautiful Disaster -



If you look at these authors profiles they have all rated each other books 5 stars (and only having rated a very small amount of books that is a massive coincidence). They have also been doing lots of helping out with Amazingly Broken eg. liking all the 5 star reviews. If these people are all the same person as Jordin Williams there is a chance all their books could also be a result of plagiarism. I really hope not as otherwise she/he/they have been getting away with this for quite a while.

***Further Edit*** - It does appear that the authors I mentioned above are all "Jordin" as is an author I didn't mention as I couldn't find anyone else who had mentioned her back then - K.A. Andrews. All of these have now disappeared from goodreads and other places. There is a decent post here that sums up all the connections. It also mentions someone called Emma Buch who co-wrote one of Beth Kleins books and has rated all the others. I am not sure if she is also the same person as unlike the others she didn't rate all the books 5 stars (2 actually got 1 star reviews) and she still has a web presence. (*Yet another edit* Emma Buch has now also disappeared from the web as have several reviewers and beta readers who had given glowing reviews to some of these books.)

Here's a pretty image that shows most of the connections and similarities between these people.

***EDIT - The post linking the aliases and the picture both come from Teresa Mummert's blog and the full post can be viewed here. ***

I will keep this updated as more things are discovered.

32 comments:

  1. Great post, Laura. I just can't believe she/he plagiarized from bestselling authors. What kind of idiot does that????

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    1. What scares me is that it wasn't discovered instantly (though it was pretty quick). It makes me wonder about how many go undiscovered. I feel sick at the possibility that a book I love is stolen from someone else! I was very nearly part of the blog tour promoting this (I had to pull out due to being overbooked so never actually read it).

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  2. The sad thing is that we may never know who is really behind this and they may do it again.

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    1. Hopefully they will have learnt from this and not do it again. Though there is a possibility they have already done this many times. God I hope not!

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  3. Since it's illegal, I wonder if the authorities can backtrack to find the "author's" identity by having Amazon hand over the direct deposit details, and going back through their bank. To open a bank account, you have to have multiple forms of ID these days. That might be one way for them to find out who it was, so they can prosecute them.
    I wonder, also, if the authors of Beautiful Disaster & Easy, or even Amazingly Damaged would have to sue them first?

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    1. I have heard that the publishers might take legal action.

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    2. I hope they do! I'd hate to see someone get away with this!

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  4. I feel sick. I was one of the bloggers on the book tour. I have not read either "Beautiful Disaster" or "Easy" and had no idea. This is just such a horrid thing to do. I can't believe anyone could do something like this. Even to self publish on Amazon, you have to provide a social security number for tax purposes. This person will be found.

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    1. I was supposed to be on the tour but had to pull out as I was double booked. Glad I did! Lots of huge fans of Easy and Beautiful Disaster didn't notice. It was someone who read Easy and Amazingly Broken back to back that realised something was wrong.

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    2. Lindsey, that really sucks. What a violation of trust. The book blogging community is so generous, this type of scam really damage the process for the authors who are legit.

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  5. Someone actually did that? Some people are disgusting. Thank you for this post, I'll keep a look out incase I spot anything odd when I read anything from Amazon on my Kindle. I hope the authors take legal action

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    1. I have heard that Penguin will be taking legal action for Tammara Webber (they are her publishers) so the person responsible won't be getting away with this.

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  6. You say 'I think that possibly someone (who could not write) decided to try to get rich by stealing a decent fan-fic that fits into the NA catagory,'

    but the fanfic is where the plagiarized material first appeared. I searched it and found a chunk that is from a previously published book as noted at DA. So 'Jordin' didn't steal from an innocent fanfic writer (assuming Jordin isn't the writer of the fanfic); the fanfic writer had already done the stealing.

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    1. I know that the fan-fic was where the plagerised material first appeared. You seem to have missed the second half of my statement.

      "I think that possibly someone (who could not write) decided to try to get rich by stealing a decent fan-fic that fits into the NA catagory, change the names, pretend to be a woman and pass it of as their own work not realising a few chapters were plagerized."

      And of course that is just a theory, it could be any number of things. "Jordin" could have been the writer of the fan-fic but people think that is unlikely as the fan-fic probably would have been taken down if that is the case.

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    2. Sorry I missed that; will teach me to post pre-coffee :-) I am so angry over this. I'm a fanfic writer and a pro writer and I feel this person (or persons) has just behaved so very badly and will probably get off scot-free.

      I do think they're the same person though; gut instinct. The fact that the fic stopped being updated around the time the book was presumably being prepped...hmm. It's sadly easy to hide behind a multitude of screen names.

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    3. That could be the case. A few of the books by the other "possibly also Jordin" writers may be similar to Eady and BD. One has a main character with the surname Abernathy. So it could be possible that this writer repeatedly plagerises the same authors in all their different books.

      And I don't think you need to worry about the person getting off scot-free. Penguin and Simon&Schuster are both on the case :)

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  7. This is just a sad situation all the way around & now to find out this person may be using diffent names! What is wrong w/ppl?! I mean seriously how & why is all that keeps popping up in my mind.

    I hope the publishers of the plagarized authors find out who this person is quickly. This needs to stop.

    Great post

    Sharonda

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    1. I have heard that both authors publishers will be taking action.

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  8. I read this book and loved it :( which now makes a lot of sense since I loved the books that were stolen. I didn't realize right away the stolen bits - which sucks on my part :(

    Great post & I totally agree with you that there needs to be some kind of screening out there...

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    1. Hopefully amazon will get a better screening in place :)

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  9. Great summary of the situation! KB also reported that the "author photo" is a stock picture. Ugh.

    I just warned of this "not real" possibility the other week when I saw someone advertising for a "How to Set Up an Author Persona" workshop (maybe at SavvyAuthor?). Really??? What's going to happen for writers/readers conferences?

    So, basically, nothing about this person is real. *sigh*

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    1. The picture is from what I think was a German model agency website.

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    2. Correction: That workshop was sponsored by the FF&P (Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal) chapter of RWA.

      I pointed out at the time that being dishonest with our author persona is a bad idea. There's a difference between pen names (normal, acceptable) or drawings for avatars (obviously not real) and actually representing ourselves as something that we're not. IMHO.

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  10. This story keeps getting stranger and stranger. Thanks for the summary. Yikes.

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    1. I thought I would pull together all the information that is already out there.

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  11. Wow. My jaw is dropping, but then I thought about it a little more. I should not be surprised at this. At all.

    I was at the gym last week and I think it was ABC national evening news (or CBS--sorry!) did a story on a husband and wife author team who saved their home by self-pubbing some erotic romance fiction. It's was quite inspiring, and kind of cool that they were able to profit so quickly on books and do something substantial with the money. There are people who see things like this and what they see are dollar signs. Not that this author was a former teacher and avid reader and probably had some idea how to write a book. Their success is in no way typical, but people who scam rarely care. They are in it for money. Copying chunks of text from various books is an easy way to hobble together a story. Obvious it took some skill to take several books to create a cohesive narrative, in the same way faking anything requires finesse. Mystery author put up a decent looking and genre-appropriate cover, and boom, there you go. Stock photo of a pretty, young, white author, and a marketing machine has been launched.

    I liken this to the same people who do phishing scams. For all we know this could be a middle aged man holed up in an apartment somewhere with an internet connection and some free time. All of it is a lie, and a pretty convincing one. This person was banking on readers who'd snap up the next trend, not realizing some of those readers are well-read enough to recognize the text. WHOOPS.

    I'll be following this with interest. Thanks for gathering so many details. Fascinating and sad all at the same time.

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    1. It does seem to be someone looking to make money. We still don't know the full story and may never know for certain.

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  12. Plenty of legitimate writers use multiple pen names, vague or just made-up bios, and no real headshots just to protect themselves from stalkers, shield their other professional identities, etc. What this person did was clearly wrong, but I think some people are conflating their normal author behavior with being sneaky or shady because of what kind of person they turned out to be.

    It is also NOT unusual for authors to five-star their own books on Goodreads, although it's not something I've ever felt comfortable doing. I think some people might not realize that you can simply skip that step, since it pops up automatically when you add one of your own books. At least when it's done under an author identity it's transparent.

    Thanks for the writeup, Laura. I believe I also have GR connections to some of the names mentioned so I'll be watching this develop with interest. Recently I've had to unfriend some (unrelated, I think) people who were doing really annoying marketing practices; one person even added me to a mailing list without giving me any kind of opt-in or asking first.

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    1. Legit authors often do have multiple pen names as it can be a way to split their books that may have different target audiences. Many of my author friends use a pen name or two.

      I was mainly pointing out that this author has other pen names so that she can't just make the Jordin one disapear and continue to trick people using the others.

      I just wanted somewhere that summed up all the information that has been uncovered so people can find out what is going on without having to hunt everywhere :)

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    2. Oh, I get it, I was more addressing some of the stuff I saw in the comments. :) It's really a shame that people do this, because it reflects badly on all of us.

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  13. Well done. I'm really impressed with the details you put.
    The self pub market has become so profitable these days that even non writers are trying to make money off it albeit dishonourably.

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    1. I have been hunting everywhere to try to gather together the information as I know lots of people are incredibly confused.

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