What Does It Feel Like?

Dame Rinda

How about some honesty? I struggled with whether to write this post or not. I rarely rant because I worry about sharing too many of my feelings online. And there are so many “rules” out there for writers these days, it’s hard to keep up with what we are and are not allowed to talk about. The most innocent remark or question can be taken so far out of context, it’s ridiculous.

But there is an issue that’s made people on all sides of it sensitive, and one that has been bothering me a lot lately. Ebook piracy. We talk about the problem, try to get the knowledge out there because believe it or not, some readers don’t realize it IS a problem. And I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve been in lately with authors sharing tips on how best to handle it.

There are some major differences of opinion when it comes to the issue of book piracy. Some authors aren’t bothered by it-especially the ones making enough sales to get by. Some believe these wouldn’t have been sales to begin with. Some think it’s great publicity and maybe the reader will purchase the next book. 

I actually know someone (who is not in the arts industry at all, btw) who is a true champion of “sharing” as he calls it. He doesn’t look at what I do as work. He says I should write my stories for fun and let everyone share them. He feels the same about music and movies. My response? Go ahead and put in hours day after day with the hope of supporting your family ,and then give me your paycheck. And it isn’t part of a paycheck for some of us, it’s most of it.

Do I sound angry?

That’s because I am.

This is what it feels like to watch this happen.

I love to write. LOVE it. But it is work and I’d like to earn a living with my work just as anyone else would. The economy has been rough on me and mine. I started writing erotic books to try and help support my family. I thought the process would be a little faster. And before anyone warns me about the dangers of trying to write for money—I do get it. Been at this some time now. ;)  But it is possible to earn a living or even supplement one with writing.  (And for the record, I also LOVE writing these books. Love reading them, too. Sheesh, I guard my Kindle from my kids like crazy because at least half of the books on it are erotic romances. )

But within hours of each of my book’s releases, they started showing up on share sites. On one, I saw over a thousand downloads. (This is small beans compared to some.) My sales hadn’t come close to that. At all. One thousand sales would pay a few bills around here. And the hardest part is seeing all the readers thanking the person who uploaded my book—all the readers who said they couldn’t wait to read it and the next. What they don’t seem to get is if this continues, how are authors supposed to continue writing the next?

And no, I’m not saying we can’t share a book we love with another person. My sisters and I loan each other books all the time. But we’re loaning–not putting a book up so thousands of copies can be made.

I’ve been told to set this worry aside. Trust me, I do. I focus on the next book and hope it sells better before it jumps on the pirate ships. I was told by a couple of people that I should just quit–that it’s pointless to do the work only to watch it get passed around freely. I know several authors who grew so discouraged with this, they did. This breaks my heart. Most of us write because we do love it. Why should we have to stop doing something we love, and something we hope will help support our families just because so many people suffer from a sense of entitlement? You say you can’t afford all the books you want? Neither can I. I keep a running list and buy as I can. Ever notice people will fork over six bucks for a coffee then bitch about the cost of a book? How long did it take to make and drink that coffee? Can you re-drink that coffee?

So, what does it feel like to watch this happening?

It hurts.

Jeaniene Frost said this so much more eloquently than I have. We still get a lot of hits on her post from people wanting to learn more about the cost of piracy to authors. Click here to read it.

At this time, our options are hunting the sites and sending out DMCA notices, hiring companies like Muso to help or just doing what we can to spread the word and hope it helps.

Or maybe, having the occasional rant… ;)

About Rinda Elliott

Rinda Elliott loves unusual stories and she credits growing up in a family of curious life-lovers who moved all over the country. Books and movies full of fantasy, science fiction and horror kept them amused, especially in some of the stranger places. For years, Rinda tried to separate her darker side with her humorous and romantic one. She published short fiction, but things really started happening when she gave in and mixed it up. When not lost in fiction, she loves making wine, collecting music, gaming and spending time with her husband and two children.

Please visit Rinda at her website/blog: http://relliott4.wordpress.com/

Comments

  1. You get to rant, though I suspect ranting here is rather like preaching to the choir. I’ve been lucky–or unpopular ;)–in that I’ve only had to send out a few DMCA notices. I’ve heard all the arguments, too–about those wouldn’t be sales, that there’s a whole generation that download free stuff because it’s free and they’ll never read it anyway. But if there are comments stating otherwise, yeah, those are sales you aren’t getting paid for! I’ve heard the arguments about, “Oh, they’ll download one free and go but the rest.” Really? Why? They’ve already stolen the material. What keeps them from downloading the next one and the next and the next? If people don’t buy the books, how does the publisher pay the cover artists, editors, and all the people who contribute to making that book worth reading? How does a self-published author provide quality work free from typos, formatting errors, and with *real* cover art?

    I have a friend who pointed out that when Monty Python put their episodes up for free, the sales of their DVDs went up exponentially. Whoopee. The difference there? THEY CHOSE TO DO IT! They made a business decision. When some unnamed person uploads a book to a pirate site, they’ve taken that choice away from the author. *breathes* Okay. I’m stepping away from the soap box.

    Thanks for venting, Rinda! I think there’s a bunch of us right there with you!

  2. Totally agree, Rinda. It really does have the potential to cut into our sales. It isn’t as if I’m one of those authors who sell 1500 or more books a month. I haven’t made it to 100 in a month yet, except for a one day free download on Amazon, and that went above 1000. What if those had been pirated, or had been sales? I could pay bills.

    “All art should be free” only works for those wanting to enjoy it, not for those working their tails off to produce it and who want to make a living doing what they love.

  3. Dawn Young says:

    Rinda,

    I LOVE my personal library of books. I will always buy hardcopy books. About once a year I go through my library and thin out a couple that are falling apart, but I cannot imagine ever replacing my beloved library with ebooks. I know a lot of readers who feel the same way.

  4. Oh, I LOVE ebooks in addition to paperbacks. Seriously love them. Half the time, I even take my Kindle on walks with me and I spend a lot more money on books because of the easy purchasing.

    Glad nobody is offended. This is one of the aspects of the business that just gets to us sometimes. :)

  5. Generally I’m a lurker on this site but I just had to comment because you are so right Dame Rinda.
    If you love the book and the author dish out your freaking money and support them. By supporting them is the only way to ensure that their next book ( and the ones after that) will be published. If they don’t want to buy it, I know people some people just can’t afford it but that gives no reason to pirate them! There is such a thing called a library. You know, where you can borrow books for FREE.
    Jeez.

  6. I, for one, was raised that if you want something, you save up your money and buy it. If you cant afford it, you shouldnt steal it. And stealing just because you can? I dont get it. Pirating is theft, plain and simple.

    I buy my books. Sometimes I buy them in both hard (touchable) format AND ereader format. Sometimes I even buy them in hardcover, paperback and ereader! Its all about respect, I think. I respect that a book is a work of art that someone has put their heart and soul and time into. Just like I wouldnt walk onto a car dealer’s lot and help myself to a car (because they have plenty of them and can afford to give away one or two), I wouldnt take hard earned money out of an author’s pocket. Its just wrong.

  7. I don’t have an e-reader, but if I did, I wouldn’t download without paying for a book. I totally understand where you’re coming from.

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