Friday, March 14, 2014

A little note to authors: Don't worry about piracy

Say you're a newbie author. Say you've written a masterpiece. Say you've worked your ass off, you've applied for a copyright, and you've uploaded to Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords, Apple, etc. You're proud of what you've accomplished, and damn right--you should be so fucking proud of yourself. It's a lot of work, writing and then publishing a book. Believe me, I know what that feels like: 18 novels, a slew of short stories and children's books, a few novellas. Yep, I do.

But after a day or two, someone whispers in your ear, and a level of fear you've never experienced before goes squirreling up your backside: What if someone pirates your book? You know, those torrent sites out there... they have everyone's book. And I mean EVERYONE'S.

Your hand goes to your mouth, and your teeth search out your fingernails. You gnaw them until you're bleeding, and your heart races along, causing your chest to ache. Worry has set in. Worry from six little words that someone has inserted into your mindset, six little words that have festered and boiled until it has you awake deep into the night, your natural, author-ly anxieties taking hold of you, depriving you of sleep, of rest.

I've worked hard on this book, you think to yourself. I want to make sure that I earn the money in my royalties. I don't want to be pirated, because, you know, that's stealing. And stealing is wrong! Wrong I say!

Of course it is, and no one is arguing that point. The point is that as an author, you shouldn't be worried about ebook piracy.

Why? Because if someone is downloading your material from a torrent site, they weren't going to buy your book to begin with. A download from a torrent site is not a lost sale, and neither is it a loss of revenue for you.

If anything, it's more of a headache for the person that did the downloading. That torrent site is more than likely a phishing scam for the downloader's PayPal and credit card information, and the site is full of spyware and malware. That's crap someone doesn't need on their computer. But if they happen to download your book from these sites, read it, and like it, they may tell 10 friends about it--10 friends who are very likely to not make purchases in such a nefarious manner--and they may tell 10 friends. I've always said that word of mouth is your best friend when it comes to growing your readership. If it comes with a deceitful edge... well, no worries! That's an eventual win for you.

Sure, it's illegal to steal. That's not really the argument. Sure, you can get yourself a good attorney and send a cease-and-desist letter with the DCMA legalese scribbled across the top, but why give yourself that headache? Why worry about stuff over which you have absolutely no control? Are you going to sit there and worry about every, single, fucking, piece of shit torrent site out there on the Internet--and let's face it, the Internet is a huge, huge place--when you should be worrying more about perfecting your craft, creating awesome, kick-ass characters, developing intriguing plots with twists that keep readers on the edge of their seat and forcing them to flip pages? There are new torrent sites every day. There will be new torrent sites tomorrow. The day after that. Next week. Next month. Next year. Keeping up with all that shit is a headache, will give you gray hair, and make you lose sleep. Do you really think that's going to stop them? I repeat: You have no control over them. Control what you can control.

Of course, there are some who opt into Kindle Select and may, at some point, receive a nifty little email from Amazon informing you that you've broken the terms of Select because your work appears elsewhere on the 'Net, i.e., a torrent site. That'll be a headache in and of itself, and in my honest opinion, it's one you've brought on yourself for putting all your eggs in one basket; I consider that a slap in the face to your friends who want to buy your book but can't because they simply happen to have a different ereader. Of course, your mileage may vary, and it's your career. You may never get that email, and you can consider yourself lucky.

In closing, Joe Konrath told me a little somethin'-somethin' a few years ago: If you've been pirated, it means that you're worth being pirated.

I'm sure my books are on torrent sites. I'm sure that they'll be on torrent sites for years to come. Am I worried? Hell no! Why?

Because I'm worth it.

So are you.


  1. I agree with you 1,000%! Especially about Amazon KDP Select. Don't do it! One of the supposed "perks" is you can run a special and put your book up for free. This is when the pirates dive in and rob you. Then, Amazon KDP sends that sweet, little note, and if you can't find out where the book is, they shut you down.

    One exception, however, is the constant pirating of your work where that person signs it as the author. This I will not abide, and I send a DMCA 2000 Take Down Request to their web host after warning them. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. If they don't, their site goes down.

    Thank you for publishing this. I'd like to mention this on my blog, if you don't mind.

  2. You hit the nail on the head. Pirate away I say. Great post.