Always Run Plagiarism Checks Before Publishing on Amazon - What Self Publishers Need to Know
Plagiarism is a perennial issue that self publishers have to deal with. The fact is that Amazon is extremely sensitive about plagiarized work and, if flagged, your account could be deactivated. This makes it imperative for self publishers to always run plagiarism checks before publishing on Amazon.
Protecting your KDP account from being deleted is quite difficult once it’s flagged. This is because Amazon arbitrarily imposes deadlines when it comes to copyright issues. If your reply to their notice isn’t prompt and if your actions aren’t in line with what they expect, termination is likely.
All in all, it’s best to prevent the problem from ever occurring in the first place and one such step is checking any content for plagiarism.
There are a wide variety of plagiarism checkers online, but which ones are the best? In addition to this, what other due diligence can you perform in order to minimize the risk of plagiarism from occurring?
Protect Your KDP Account
As you already know, protecting your KDP account is paramount when it comes to your self publishing business. Simply put, without it you won’t have a business. Amazon has published a wide variety of guidelines and policies that all self publishers should make themselves aware of.
Let’s take a look at some of the more important ones and see how these relate to plagiarism. Keep in mind that all of these points apply to your book’s title, content, cover, and product description.
This is the most obvious rule that is in place to protect copyright and other trademarks related to content. Simply put, you need to ensure that your content does not violate or infringe upon any trademarks or copyright.
Some self publishers make the mistake of thinking that just because content is freely available (a blog, for example,) it can be reproduced in a book. This is not true. Freely available content is also subject to copyright and is owned by the person who produced it.
Unless the content is explicitly marked as being “public domain” content, you should always assume that it is covered by copyright.
Public domain refers to work that is not subject to copyright and can be reproduced freely. However, Amazon has its own policies with regards to such content that trips up self publishers.
In order to publish on KDP, your content has to be as exclusive as possible. In other words, if you copy and paste public domain content in your book, your submission will be rejected.
Amazon expects you to differentiate that content and modify it in some way so that it adds value to the reader. They discuss this in detail in their content guidelines. The only exception to this rule is if you happen to be the original creator of the public domain work.
Have you ever wanted to publish a study guide to a popular book? You can publish them in the United States but you cannot do so outside the U.S without written permission from the copyright holder.
If you do so, your book will be flagged for copyright infringement and you will risk having your account banned. This is something that doesn’t come under a traditional book plagiarism check but it is a factor you need to be aware of.
Even if you do choose to publish in the United States exclusively, there are a number of guidelines you should follow. These cover the title format, the cover design, the quality of the content, as well as a number of other areas.
You can find these listed under the companion guides subsection of the Kindle content quality guide.
KDP requires you to hold sole and exclusive rights to all the content you publish. This is listed in their copyright guidelines. They recommend consulting an attorney if you are unsure of whether you can publish the content or not.
While they officially mention that your content will be pulled from the Kindle store, the fact is that repercussions go a lot further than this. Your account will most probably be terminated and recovering it is close to impossible.
Aside from the above, there are a few other issues that might cause Amazon to flag your KDP account. These don’t deal with plagiarism directly but are issues you should nonetheless be aware of.
The most common issue has to do with the quality of content you publish. As long as it isn’t disappointing and doesn’t mislead the customer in any way, you’ll be just fine.
Why Self Publishers Should Always Run Plagiarism Checks Before Publishing on Amazon
Most self publishers choose to hire a ghostwriter to create a series of eBooks. The fact is that companies such as The Urban Writers conduct strict plagiarism checks on the content they deliver and the odds of receiving plagiarized work is low.
Despite this, there is no way that any service can guarantee that your KDP account will not get flagged in some way thanks to plagiarism. One of the reasons for this is that plagiarism reporting tools may not have access to books published on KDP. Besides, as a self publishing business owner, you always want to make sure you cover all bases.
Relying on someone else to protect your KDP account is a poor business decision.
Plagiarism is a problem that you can easily mitigate by running the work you receive through software that flags any issues related to copyright infringement. It doesn’t take a lot of time and ensures you’re always protected.
So, why not do it?
The Best Plagiarism Checkers
You can opt for either a free or paid plagiarism checking service. Let’s start by looking at the free options.
Grammarly is the biggest software out there for writers and not only does it flag plagiarism, it also checks your content for any grammatical issues. The downside is that its plagiarism check is limited to the web, and academic journals are not scanned.
The free version of this software allows for a limited number of checks. If you need to scan a small document, Plagiarisma is your best choice. If your aim is to scan large quantities of text, you’re probably better off using one of the paid tools below.
Copyscape’s free version is on par with Grammarly and scans the web for potential plagiarism. Just like Grammarly though, academic journals and other offline sources such as books are not covered.
As the name suggests, this online checker aims to prevent your website from being blacklisted by Google for plagiarism. While it isn’t fully applicable to self publishers, it is a handy tool nonetheless.
Copyleaks is paid software that is targeted at both businesses and academics. The tool allows you to search for plagiarized content all over the web and covers an extensive array of sources. There are different structures to the paid plans with the cheapest costing you $9.99 per month (the price at the time of writing) for a daily search of upto 25,000 words.
This is also a paid tool that has an extensive database you can check for plagiarism. The downside is that it isn’t the easiest tool to use and there have been reports of some issues with some file extensions not being supported. The unlimited version of the software is an extremely powerful tool to use despite all of these shortcomings.
This software is aimed at mostly academics and houses a database of more than 20 million academic journals and articles. This is over and above the ability to search the web for plagiarized content. The software costs $7.99 per month (price at the time of writing) to use and is particularly useful for students and self publishers who have technical books ghostwritten.
Something to be aware of is that the software doesn’t offer a warranty or guarantee of any sort. This might be a turn off for some self publishers.
PlagScan is a two tiered system that performs differently depending on the type of user being targeted. There is a private user account and another business account that is advertised for universities and other academic institutions. The former costs $5.99 per month while the latter costs $19.99 per month (prices at the time of writing is correct).
This tool is a lot more advanced than others in this space and its interface isn’t the easiest to use. However, the extensive database and reputation make it worth your while.
UniCheck has the same extensive database as the other paid software highlighted thus far but perhaps its best feature is the ability to check multiple documents at once. The software can scan five documents at a time and this puts it a class above the rest of the tools mentioned thus far.
The report that Unicheck provides is quite detailed and, most importantly, preserves the formatting of the document that was uploaded. Other plagiarism checkers tend to mash all the text within the document together and this can be tough to fix in case plagiarism is detected.
The downside is that as of now, the software cannot scan images for plagiarism. However, this is a shortcoming that is inherent to all of the options discussed thus far.
Recovering Your Account
Let’s say the worst happens and your account is flagged for issues. There are different times during the book uploading process when this can happen. The earliest it happens is during Amazon’s book review process that takes place right after you upload your book.
Amazon compares your book’s manuscript to their own database and also checks your book’s title, description, and pen name to ensure you aren’t violating any of their policies.
When you violate any terms of KDP policy (except copyright infringement,) you will receive a five day period within which you need to fix the issue. I’ll address the time frame provided for copyright infringement shortly.
The other point in time when your book may be flagged for copyright issues (or any issue) is when another publisher complains to Amazon in this regard. This is when Amazon sends you a notice of copyright infringement and it is here that things get tricky.
Amazon does not share with you the timeline within which they expect you to respond. They have internal protocols regarding this and if you violate them, knowingly or unknowingly, your account is automatically terminated.
The best practice to follow if you receive such a notice is to respond as quickly as possible, ideally within three or four days. Create an action plan for reinstatement and verify whether you’ve unknowingly violated someone’s copyright. Write back to Amazon detailing your action plan and hope for the best.
If all else fails, there are companies that provide KDP account reinstatement services so contacting them would be a good idea.
You might be tempted to think of plagiarism checking software as being an additional cost for your business but it is one that will save your account from suspension. Given that your KDP account is the biggest asset you have, it makes sense to do whatever it takes to protect it.
Invest in a paid plagiarism checking tool and ensure that you will never have any issues with having your account flagged for copyright infringement of any kind. The peace of mind you’ll gain will make it more than worth it!