They say even paranoid people get it right sometimes, and today offers further confirmation.
Some eagle-eyed Smashwords authors have detected a scam in which cybercriminal scum-o-the-earth types are stealing free books and republishing them on Amazon for a price. One author, Drew Wagar, created a site to document their initial findings over at the blog, Drew Wagar. In Drew's case, the criminal apparently republished his free books at Amazon but misspelled his name Drew Wager. I did some poking around based on their initial research and found a scamster, going by the name of Peter Michelsen, who has posted over 57 books at Amazon, including a mix of both stolen and Private Label Rights scam books. One book in particular, The Unearthing (not a Smashwords title), apparently was really published by author Steve Karmazenuk. If you look closely at the book cover image at Amazon, it shows his author name smudged out. Now you know why Smashwords requires author names on book cover images and copyright statements. What can an author do to protect her/himself from such scamsters? First, it's a good idea to do vanity searches at Google on your name and book titles. If your book is appearing anywhere that Smashwords doesn't distribute to (see our distribution points here), then take a closer look. In the case above, the scamsters are publishing directly at Amazon to reach Amazon's large customer base. Second, there's no need to panic or change your publishing strategy, because although the above is immensely disturbing, it's still very rare and isolated, and the scamsters will eventually be caught and shut down (at least until they pop up again). Don't allow these parasitic vermin to scare you or deter you from publishing. We can expect more of this as ebook sales continue to grow. I've been in touch with Amazon and they've escalated this investigation.