Recently an author who regularly hits the top of the Gay Romance/Gay Fiction charts found her book had been pirated, prior to release date. To say she was upset would be an understatement, and who could blame her? She worked hard on writing a sequel to a book that people loved (myself included) only to have someone, a blogger, or someone who received it from a blogger, think it was okay to steal it, and put it up for free for the taking.
This angered me as a blogger. Angered might be a little bit on the nice side. I was pissed! I was furious for the author, and I was pissed at the blogger, but even more, I was pissed at the reader(s) who think its okay to steal!
First, it makes bloggers look bad, like we all steal or pirate authors’ books, when that is far from the case. However, when they say “One bad apple ruins the entire barrel”, it’s true. Authors may hesitate to then give bloggers access to ARCs of their books, which makes it that much harder for us to promote their books, a huge part of what we are trying to do.
Second, WHY? This book was $2.99, or on Kindle Unlimited. How much do these assholes (and I will call thieves what they are-assholes) pay for their beloved Starbucks in the morning, or to buy their kids a Happy Meal at McDonald’s instead of making a meal for them at home? When they go to a restaurant, do they say “well, I’m going to go ahead and take the silverware home, because I want it”? (And I have seen a friend of mine do this, and it pissed me off just as much). It’s THREE FRICKING DOLLARS!!!! And it isn’t yours, so you are STEALING. Plain and simple. If you are a reader who has done this, you can call yourself a great person, and even in this genre an ally, but you are still a thief, which means you are not a great person, you are an asshole. Even if the book is $5.99, does that give you the right? Where is the point where you feel it is okay to steal from people? Where the amount doesn’t matter in your mind, even if there are mouths to feed at the other end of that $6 you just ripped out of someone’s hand?
Third, the snowball effect is HUGE! An author works hard to write and publish their book–>Said book is pirated–>Author may or may not spend time and money on filing Cease and Desist or Takedown orders–>They are not able to support their family–>They may or may not have to find another source of income, so they cannot write any longer. Meanwhile, Thieving Blogger receives an ARC–>Hands over to someone that they know will put it on a pirate site–>Author finds out and files Cease and Desist or Takedown orders–>Author is less likely to give ARCs to bloggers to review for the honest readers.
How about instead of stealing, you spend some time finding ways to earn that book that you want so much? Maybe become a reviewer for a blogger? Maybe forgo that Starbucks you have every single day, and make it only twice a week? Maybe take on a part time job? Perhaps enter some of the TONS of giveaways that authors and bloggers put on so people can get something for free legally? But don’t steal, because no matter how you might justify it to yourself by saying things like “I can’t afford it right now” or “Well, they won’t notice, it’s just one copy” or “I want it before its released, because I want IT” (like Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), it hurts everyone. It hurts the author’s income, it hurts bloggers who also are creating some income, as well as trying to promote those authors, and it makes you an asshole. Stop being an asshole. Buy the book.
I interviewed the above author, N.R. Walker to get her take on the situation. Her book, Imagines (if you want to buy it, go here), was pirated prior to it actually going on sale, so we know it was an ARC that was stolen.
- How is it you find out about a truly pirated book? (Often, they are viruses used to lure people in).
A quick Google search. It’s actually really easy. Yes, there are a lot phishing sites and virus sites, but there a LOT of legit pirate sites. Typing in a book title, author name and something like ‘free download’ or ‘read online’ is all it takes.
Unfortunately, more often than not, you’ll find it at a legit pirate site.
I also use a ‘takedown service’ which scans the internet for my titles. But recently, in the case of the ARC being out before release day, a friend told me about it. She will sometimes do internet searches for me (her Google-fu is strong) and she emailed me with links etc.
- How much time do you think you spend on a weekly or monthly basis on tracking down pirated copies of your books, and sending takedown notices?
I use a site called Muso, which is a monthly subscription per title. It costs me about $16AUD per book per month, so it’s a bloody expensive investment. I have seven titles listed at the moment and do swap them around (because I have so many titles, it’s not feasible to have them all listed at the one time). And thankfully, when I Google my titles for pirated copies, there aren’t too many. If/when I do find one, I send the URL to Muso and they issue the DMCA to have it removed.
I know a lot of authors write pirating off as a lost cause, and I get it, I really do. It’s expensive, it’s exhausting, and it’s never ending. But part of me, the stubborn part, hates to let them get away with it. I don’t care if they don’t want to pay for books, but I’ll do what I can to make sure they can’t get their grubby paws on mine. I like to think of it as a digital middle finger salute 🙂
- In the case of your most recent release, it was pirated prior to you actually uploading it to Amazon (correct me if I am wrong NR). So, how does that affect your new release? Sales, promo, etc
Yes, an ARC of my book Imagines was on a pirate site before release day. I know it was an ARC because there was a certain typo in the book that went out in the ARCs for my blog tour. I didn’t fix the typo until after I’d sent them.
There’s no way of knowing just how much it affects sales. A lot of authors do believe that people who download from pirate sites would never buy a copy anyway, I, while I do agree with that, I’m sure there are some people who will pay when/if they can’t get it for free.
How it affected me personally, was a whole other matter. I found out the day before release day and the hurt part of me wanted to not upload the book and shut the internet down for a week or two. But that wouldn’t have been fair (on anyone) so I hit ‘publish’ with every intention of taking a few hours break from the world while it uploaded (it can take up to 48-72 hours). Amazon had other ideas however, because it only took 30 minutes to go live. LOL
And I must say, my readers are so lovely and so loyal, they helped spread the news and made my release day such a positive experience. I’d felt betrayed by this person who had received an ARC of the book and shared it, but my readers reminded me why I do what I do.
- There are many methods that authors employ to try to combat piracy. Will you talk about how you’ve tried to do that? (And I understand if this is a question you DO NOT want to answer)
LOL Yeah, I’m not gonna answer this. In case anyone knows what to look for haha
- When the piracy is from a book that you sent to a blogger it makes us all look bad. Will this change how you distribute ARC’s in the future?
Well, unfortunately, I’m considering no longer doing ARCs.
Does this suck? Yes. Is this fair on those who do the right thing? No. But if you could imagine how betrayed and hurt I felt knowing someone violated my trust, then times that by a hundred, and you can begin to understand why I’m reluctant to put myself in that position again.
I’m still undecided, and my feelings might change, but right this minute, my answer is no.
- It’s frustrating that you are going through all this. What is it you hope to be the outcome of your follow up on this particular issue?
My “hope” is that the person who shared the ARC is named and shamed, and the site is removed from the internet. LOL But that’s not too likely to happen (the last part anyway). It’s still a process at the moment so I can’t say too much, but the support I’ve had from other authors helping where they can is awesome! I really do love this community <3