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Wednesday News: The FCC invites comments on Net Neutrality, Apple disappoints (again), alleged plagiarism in 1D fan fiction, and Writer’s Coffee Shop owner is sued for millions

Wednesday News: The FCC invites comments on Net Neutrality, Apple disappoints...

John Oliver’s Net neutrality response swamps FCC – I’m posting this story to serve as a reminder that the public comment period for the FCC’s new Net Neutrality proposal is open until July 15th. It’s also a pretty funny anecdote about how comedian John Oliver directed people to the FCC website for comment, which basically killed the FCC site (too much traffic — the irony is so rich). And if you aren’t up on Net Neutrality, there’s more information at the CNET site.

The FCC’s online public-comment system stumbled under heavy traffic Monday after comedian John Oliver capped a 13-minute segment about Net neutrality — the concept that all Internet content should be delivered without preference or discrimination — with a rallying cry to the Internet’s trolls to visit the FCC’s website and “focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction.” –CNET

Apple: There’s more than meets the eye in today’s announcements – In which we are sold the story that the disappointing Apple announcement was more significant than we think. A new programming language (Swift) that’s already making programmers and software developers swoon (allegedly), expanded cloud storage, etc. Still would have been better with new hardware, especially given Apple’s deficiencies relative to more inexpensive, larger screen phones.

As for the rest, in the attached video Yahoo’s Aaron Pressman says much of Apple’s announcement is a down payment on their future. Sure it wasn’t as sexy as an iPhone or iPad launch but Tim Cook and company unveiled the Homekit and Healthkit apps. They will allow third party hardware and software to better integrate with Apple’s ecosystem. –Yahoo

One Direction fanfic author gets book deal – There are really two stories here. First, the sale of a real-person fan fiction story to Simon & Schuster (details below). Then the allegation that the book, After, contains some plagiarized content, most notably from You’ve Got Mail. I’m not sure which story is more interesting, or troubling, but you can read about the plagiarism allegations on Jenny Trout’s site, which is linked to in her Twitter conversation about the situation.

Harry Styles-inspired fanfic After, by 25-year-old One Direction fan Anna Todd, has inked a three-book deal. Simon & Schuster acquired the series with a deal in the “mid-six figures,” according to Publisher’s Weekly. They also grabbed the story’s “world and audio rights,” meaning that spinoffs are possible as well — and movie rights are in the works.  –Entertainment Weekly

Arlington woman seeks millions in royalties from “Fifty Shades of Grey” - And speaking of fan fiction, there’s an interesting twist to the Fifty Shades story, or, more specifically, to the co-op that published the story. Jennifer Pedroza, one of the original owners of the Writer’s Coffee Shop, is suing another owner, Amanda Hayward, alleging that Hayward cheated Pedroza out of royalties when Fifty Shades was acquired by Simon & Schuster. Additionally, Christa Beebe, an employee of Writer’s Coffee House, is suing Hayward, basically for breach of an alleged employment contract. Both Pedroza and Beebe live in Texas, while Hayward is from Australia, where the Writer’s Coffee House is based, although there was apparently no partnership agreement among the women (including a fourth, Lea Dimovski, who joined in 2011), the year they published Fifty Shades.

From the outside, the history and status of Writer’s Coffee Shop has always been a little fuzzy (was it a publisher or was it a place for fan fiction writers to post and exchange their work), and it sounds like things weren’t so clear from within the Shop, either. It’s gonna be interesting.

Writer’s Coffee Shop was launched in 2009 by Pedroza, Hayward and Waxahachie resident Jennifer McGuire as a blog site in 2009. The three women had formed online friendships though a fan fiction website. McGuire did the design on the blog, Pedroza uploaded contributor’s writing and Hayward worked with authors, the suit says. In May 2011, it published Fifty Shades, followed by two sequels of the trilogy in 2011 and 2012.

Pedroza not only handled marketing for the runaway bestseller, she also packed the print-on-demand copies in her home for shipment. Beebe joined in January 2012 to help with marketing and distribution, first as an unpaid volunteer then as a salaried employee, it said. –Forth Worth Star-Telegram

Friday News: ambitiously presented author earnings,, suspicious book similarities, UK digital lending trends, and video game Romance novel covers

Friday News: ambitiously presented author earnings,, suspicious book similarities, UK digital...

Author Earnings – The Report – Here’s a link to the much discussed “report” by Hugh Howey that he’s using to assert the supremacy of self-publishing. His data captures two days of sales and then extrapolates annual earnings based on one placement on the charts. Without question, Howey’s data is a good start to a necessary conversation about what is selling on Amazon, but how much one can extrapolate from that (as Howey does) is up for debate (or should be). Of course authors will have to decide for themselves whether the data is useful.

This data provided one piece of a complex puzzle. The rest of the puzzle hit my inbox with a mighty thud last week. I received an email from an author with advanced coding skills who had created a software program that can crawl online bestseller lists and grab mountains of data. All of this data is public—it’s online for anyone to see—but until now it’s been extremely difficult to gather, aggregate, and organize. This program, however, is able to do in a day what would take hundreds of volunteers with web browsers and pencils a week to accomplish. The first run grabbed data on nearly 7,000 e-books from several bestselling genre categories on Amazon. Subsequent runs have looked at data for 50,000 titles across all genres. You can ask this data some pretty amazing questions, questions I’ve been asking for well over a year [link]. And now we finally have some answers. –Author Earnings

Links: Good and Funny Stuff to Soothe the Part Where Plagiarism Is Still Ugly – Sarah Wendell reports on two cases of questionable similarities, and I’m adding a bonus one from a recent Dear Author review for the hat trick. First, you can compare passages from Marilyn Lee’s 2008 book Skin Deep to those in Leila Lacey’s 2014 book, Vixen’s Curves. Then there is the case of JB Lynn’s book Nearly Departed, which Kate Rothwell has blogged about, due to similarities with Wendy Roberts’s The Remains of the Dead. Then Jane reviewed Mariana Zapata’s Under Locke, noting similarities to several other books, including Karina Halle’s Artist’s Trilogy. Whether or not all of these cases are straight out copying, there have definitely been more questions lately about how books in the genre are overlapping or being “deconstructed” or borrowed from, or whatever you want to call it. As I’ve said before, we this really needs to be publicly discussed more readily and prominently.

Lynn’s book has been removed from retailers, however. The book was published by “Gemma Halliday Publishing,” a boutique publisher of mystery and romance run by author Gemma Halliday. The book also appears to have been removed from Gemma Halliday’s site. Lynn has published several other books, including two in her Neurotic Hitwoman series with Avon. I’m guessing readers and authors armed with combs and Google are going over those other works, too. –Smart Bitches Trashy Books

Libraries see surge in erotic book borrowing – Okay, before you start rolling your eyes, note that the title of this article is sensationalistic and misleading, because the piece is a broader look at what books are being borrowed in digital form from UK public libraries. Since Laurel K. Hamilton is being classified as “erotic fiction,” well, you can draw your own conclusions. Still, there’s some interesting data here, as well as a note that “all lending income goes directly to the author.”

Hilary Mantel becomes the first Booker winner to make the top 10 since PLR records began 20 years ago, with Bring Up the Bodies cited as the eighth most borrowed book.

However, US romance writer Danielle Steel dropped out of the top 10 most borrowed adult fiction authors list for the first time since comprehensive PLR records began in 1988/89. –BBC News

Power Couples : Classic Video Games Reimagined as Romance Novels – I think this is pretty cute — part satire, part homage, and a lot of clever. How can you resist the love story between “Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man” or the tag line for Shot to the Heart: Their Dreams of Desire Just Flew South . . . Forever. It’s the tender story of a dog and a duck. Heh. –Shutterstock