Savas on plagiarism (with comment)

Publisher Ted Savas, of Savas Beatie LLC, was kind enough to share a few thoughts with me on plagiarism after last week's Ruhlman/Marvel revelations. It's not a pretty picture, my friends.

As for plagiarism: I see it all the time in manuscripts, so what Carmichael is talking about I can’t say. I can often spot it in casual reading. Maybe I have a good radar for that. Goodwin got off; Ruhlman won’t.
He adds:
I have confronted several authors over the past couple of years regarding a wide variety of submissions. Some apologize (falling back on the Goodwin/Ruhlman non-defense defense), others never respond, and a few are so clueless they ask what plagiarism means!
Sounds like "some" are setting up a quibble. What is a "spotter" to do? Ted refers to an incident of two titles published by other presses.

In one, the thievery was largely corrected. In another, it was not and I alerted the press privately. I do not know the result of that notification, other than that a good seller did not go into the expected second edition.
The difference between Ted Savas and some salaryman editing for a trade or university press is that Ted is that educated reader around whom the editor function in publishing was originally organized. (This could apply to many of my readers, as well.)

Kevin Levin had asked why University of Tennesse Press did not send the Ruhlman MS to Andersonville author Marvel for comment. I have two problems with that. First, it makes new writing hostage to old reputations (more on which in a minute). Second, if you don't have the in-house expertise to evaluate a manuscript like this yourself, yours is a house of generalists susceptible not only to plagiarism but trash.

If you agree with the idea of shopping new manuscripts to the established experts, I urge you to listen to Gerald Prokopowicz interview Keith Poulter, former editor of "North & South" magazine. Poulter, like any editor, rejected a lot of work. However, there was a category of work the content of which he was not sure about. Was it revisionism? He describes a system by which he would send such submissions to subject matter experts. Gerald astutely asked how many of these got through this expert screening process. Poulter answered none. That would be zero among (IIRC) 40 such.

I know university presses routinely do this kind of review. I question the value of it. Some cases - not routine evaluations - will of course demand outside advice. Set boundaries for advisors or you will wind up a gatekeeper for your advisors' reputations.

Meanwhile I do take heart that privately contacting a thief's publisher may forestall that second edition.