We’re on the lookout for pirates!
Why … ?
I’m, um, … one, two, three, four—thirteen days from my debut novel Crux being released. Whoa. *shakes head* Absolutely mind blowing, right? There are a lot of emotions and thoughts rattling around in my head, but of all the notions vying for top billing, I didn’t think worry over pirating would be amongst them.
Since I’m new, I’m watching other debut authors that have released books ahead of me, and … Wait, no, not the ‘creepy stalker’ sort of watching. The ‘I’m so in awe of you, can I learn from you Obi Wan’ sort of watching. Anyhoo, one of those people is amazing YA author and new friend Stephanie Lawton. She wrote a fantastic article on piracy, you can read here: http://stephanielawton.com/2012/06/24/for-writers-steps-to-deal-with-book-piracy/ , because her debut novel Want was illegally downloaded pretty much instantly.
Pirated copies of writer friend, Claire Gillian’s debut book The P.U.R.E. appeared on sites within the same two week time frame after initial release. She writes contemporary women’s romance, though. See? No one is safe, dang it!
I can tell you I got a big fat lump in my throat. I’d heard a little bit about piracy, but I thought they hit up mostly the NYT bestselling bunch, (not that that’s okay either, it’s definitely not!)
If you are mostly new to this stuff, like I am, I didn’t even know what some of these terms meant. Care to learn with me? Here’s what I found…
♦ Book Pirate: One who infringes the copyright of a book by reading it in the store and memorizing it or downoads off illegal internet sites without paying for it. (Urban Dictionary)
♦ File Sharing: The practice of sharing computer data or space on a network such as such as computer programs, multimedia (audio, images and video), documents, or electronic books. (Dictionary.com)
♦ DRM or digital rights management: A class of access control technologies that are used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, copyright holders and individuals with the intent to limit the use of digital content and devices after sale. (Wikipedia)
You’re fascinated, right? Yeah, me, too. I wish I didn’t have to know about this stuff, either, but it won’t help to put our heads in the sand. I really thought I was too small for anyone to fool with, but I guess I can’t assume that anymore.
As Stephanie stated in her blog, here are some of the most common pirating sites. If you write, make yourself aware, and if you read, please don’t use them. I placed them here because I’m trying to follow the advice in her post, but also to spread the word.
- Mobile9 (heartnett)
- http://www.findfreemedia.com (new one Stephanie just found her book on) 😦 Grrrrrr.
So who cares about pirating? Why are authors making such a big deal? Because authors want their books to be read, but they also want to get paid for it. Many of us dream of doing what we love and supporting ourselves while doing it. Can you believe there are people out there who are upset about that? Jennifer L. Armentrout wrote another great article on epub file sharing and book downloads here: http://jenniferarmentrout.blogspot.com/2012/05/piracy-wtfery.html
To tackle the idea from another perspective, here’s the way I see pirating…
Say your mom is an amazing cook. She’s so cute in her blue and white striped apron and spends hours on end creating perfect little cupcakes. They are intricate and awesome. I mean, her culinary confections are freakin’ works of art. She’s so proud, and of course, you, her extended family and friends are over-the-top excited for her. She doesn’t stop there, though. She can’t, this is her biggest dream.
After a lot of looking, (maybe months, even years) your mom finds a bakery willing to sell and promote her desserts. The bakery owner puts a lot of time and money into advertising and marketing. Opening day arrives. The shoppe window is filled with her dazzling treats. The scents of vanilla, fruit and cinnamon fill the air. Your mother smiles wide with anticipation and excitement, maybe a little fear, too. Will people like them? She wonders. Customers arrive and lo and behold, they do! Love them in fact. She notices a couple people pick up a cupcake or two and leave without paying. No big, right? It’s just a few, but her heart sinks as more and more sweets are carried out without being paid for. The skin on her brow creases in confusion. Across the room, the smile fades from the bakery owner’s face and her chest tightens.
A blonde woman in a red dress exits the store with a pretty pink cupcake. Your mother takes a deep breath and approaches her with a timid smile. “Excuse me, ma’am, those treats aren’t free.”
The blonde pats your mother’s hand. “Oh my gosh, these are uber fantastic! I just love your work, you’re so talented. Will you sign the wrapper?”
“Uh … thank you so much,” your mother answers, “but I wanted to point out our cashier, over there? You can go—”
“Sure, sure, I know they aren’t technically free, but a great product like this is for the world and should be shared.’ She gives a sly wink. “Plenty of others are paying, right? You know what I’m going to do for you, honey? I’m going to tell all my friends about you. I bet you already have loads of money anyway, don’t you? We’ll let the next guy pay for mine.” She elbows your mom in the arm. You mom rubs the spot and takes a step back. “I’ll even write a rave review in the food section of the paper!”
Your mother’s stomach twists. She gazes at the front door where a few more patrons slip out with goodies not paid for. Unshed tears glisten, threatening to spill over. “All my hard work …”
You walk over and take your mother’s hand. Her fingers tremble, so you give them a light squeeze knowing this isn’t what she planned. “It’s okay, mom,” you say, but you both know it isn’t true.
Writers are people with friends, family and business partners the same as anyone else. There’s no difference. So aside from the fact that file sharing is illegal and wrong, it hurts the authors we love and the agents, editors and publishing houses that back those writers.
I formally invite you to just say no to free downloads. Food for thought.