Saturday, 23 June 2012

Before You Put Your Name On It

I've seen a lot of Private Label Rights (PLR) product licenses, mainly PLR ebooks and articles, mention that you can put your name on the product as the author of the product. Even though the license allows you to claim authorship of the product, is it really a good idea to claim authorship? I'm not convinced.

You are not the only one
A lot of other people have the exact same PLR product as you, and if the license gives you the right to claim authorship, it also gave everyone else who has that product, the same right. Now, does it make sense that lets say... 100 people are all claiming authorship for the exact same product?

Are you comfortable claiming to be the author?
Unlike ghostwritten work, where the content was made exclusively for you, PLR content is made available to multiple people. So, it would make sense to claim authorship for content that your hired someone to do on your behalf, but I fail to see the sense in claiming to be the author, when you know that there could very well be a lot of other people claiming the same thing.

The Problem of claiming Authorship
Let's say of the hundreds of people that have their hands on the exact same PLR product... only 10 claim to be the author... it's still 9 too many.

Imagine that you're in a bookstore and you see 2 books next to one another that at first glance, seem identical, but the authors are different. You pick up the first one and look at the contents page. Then you pick up the second one and look at the contents page. You notice that they have the same contents page. You then flip through the page of both books, but even the chapter text seem to be the same.

Now, if you saw that in a bookstore, would you be okay with that? I wouldn't. So, why should it be any different online.

Another Problem
There is another major problem with how some people use PLR content that ties very closely to claiming authorship, mainly in PLR reports and eBooks.

As if claiming authorship of a PLR product (without changing it significantly) isn't bad enough, there is an even more disturbing way in which some use PLR products, especially PLR eBooks and reports... pretending it's a different product when it's really not.

Adding your name as author of a PLR eBook without adding value and creating something new is bad. Changing the title, the titles of the chapters, and then adding your name to it is even worse. The problem that I have with this, is that it is deceptive. The content of the eBook is practically the same, but people are lead to believe that it's a completely different eBook.

Scenario 1
Let's say 2 people claimed authorship of the same PLR eBook and both decide to sell it in an eBook marketplace. You may see something like this:
  • "Let Your Online Business Stand Out By Being Original" by A. N. A. Lias
  • "Let Your Online Business Stand Out By Being Original" by S. O. Mebodyelse
Since it may not be wierd for eBooks by different authors to have the same title, the main clue that lets you know they are the same eBook is the cover... or at least the contents page if no cover is shown. So, in this case, it's really easy to see that the 2 eBooks are essentially the same ebook.

Scenario 2
Now, instead of both people just claiming authorship, one of them changes the title, adds a new cover, and changes the names of the chapters of the eBook. You may see something like this instead
  • "Let Your Online Business Stand Out By Being Original" by A. N. A. Lias
  • "To Be Unique is to Be Profitable" by S. O. Mebodyelse
Now, unlike in scenario 1 where it's easy to see that the eBooks are the same, in scenario 2 it's not easy at all. Actually, it could be very difficult to see that they are the same eBook without having to buy both first.

I think this is a serious problem and I would definitely suggest that you don't use PLR content like this. Wouldn't you be upset if you found 2 eBooks that have different titles, different covers... but the content is the same?

Or let be put it another way, there is absolutely no difference in value gained, no difference in reader experience, no difference in insight... basically, they are the same. If you read the first eBook and then read the second eBook, you would gain nothing of substance, but you would have wasted your time.

I think the reason why some people would use PLR content like this, is because they're being lazy. I can't think of another reason. Why else would they add no value to a product, but market it as if it's a different product? It has nothing to do with ability. Everyone is capable of adding value and creating something unique... because everybody is unique.

Even though the PLR license may allow you to change the title, change the chapters, add your name as the author... I still think it's a bad idea to do it. If you want to market a new product, don't just change the name... actually change the product to create something new and even more valuable.

Potential to hurt your business
Okay, getting back to the main issue of adding your name as the author to a PLR product...

Do you think your customer will think more highly of you, if they found out that the product they thought you created, was found elsewhere on the internet under another author's name... possibly even a few authors? Now, I don't think that the average customer is going to check whether the information product they just bought, is unique or not... but it doesn't change the fact that claiming authorship could hurt your brand.

You can put your name on it without claiming authorship
I don't feel comfortable claiming to be the author of something that I am not the author of... but maybe it's just me. By claiming to be the author of PLR content, it seems like you're trying to fool people.

If you're like me and don't like claiming authorship but still added some value to the overall product and want your name on the product, then there are various ways that you can do so, without having to claim authorship.

There are lots of ways to make the overall product better than it was before, without having to completely rewrite all the text. If you added value, then why shouldn't you get some credit. You can still put your name on the work, without having to claim authorship.

Here's some examples:
  • Let's say you want to brand the work, you could say "Brought to you by..." or something to that effect. Or, If you just want to brand the product with your name, put your name on the product, without saying that you are the author. You can even mention somewhere that the content used is PLR content if you want to.
  • Or, if you want to brand the product, and made changes to the product, but not enough for it to be an entirely new product, then why not brand the product as a version or edition of the original product. 
e.g. You bought a PLR eBook called "The Really Cool eBook." You made some cool changes to it, so that the eBook is even better than the original, and you branded it. Why not call it "The Really Cool eBook - Reallycoolwebsite Edition" instead of creating a new title? At least this way, you let the reader know upfront, that part of the eBook is based on work created by someone else.
  • What if you changed the layout and how the information is presented... what if you improved the design? Well, then why not say "layout and design by..."
  • If you changed some of the content, or created something new by combining different sources of PLR content, or if you only rewrote a small portion of the PLR content, then why not put your name to the work, but mention that the content is based on PLR content. At least if you mention that the content is based on PLR content, your reader will know that not all of the work is original.
  • If you edited the work or added additional information, then say something to that effect, like "additional chapters by..." or "edited by..."
However, if you used PLR content only as a starting point and created something entirely new, then claim authorship because you are the author of that work.

If you created something new then it's fine
I know this is like saying the obvious, but I'm going to say it anyway. If you only used the PLR content as a starting point (which is the best way to make use of PLR content) and you created something entirely new from it, then it's okay to claim to be the author... because in this case you are the author.

A writer or author may do research and draw inspiration and ideas from a range of sources and ends up creating something new. He or she is the author of that new creation, because it is unlike anything else out there. Sure, there may be similarities with other works... but the overall product is unique and he or she is the author of that unique piece of work.

So, if you used PLR content as a source and created something entirely unique, then claim authorship because you are the rightful author.

If you want to be the author of the work, then put in some time and effort and create something new. Don't pretend to be the author... actually become the author.

Wrapping Up
It doesn't make sense to claim to be the author of PLR content when you know that others would also claim authorship. However even if you don't create something entirely new from the PLR content, there are still other ways that you could add your name, without claiming to be the author.

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