So let’s talk about piracy for a moment. Not the cool kind of piracy, either. I’m not talking about scurvy, pegged legged dudes walking the plank. Although sharks are certainly involved. No, I want to talk about book piracy. As in, the theft of someone’s intellectual property. As in, sites giving illegal copies of books away, unbeknownst to the author who spent months, if not years, writing said books.
To be honest, I really never gave much thought to this subject. I’ve heard horror stories of authors getting ripped off, but I’ve always assumed it was the big name authors who were stolen from. As it turns out, it can happen to anyone. It could happen to me, in fact, and it did.
Here’s how my Sunday played out. I have a big giveaway coming up on March 20-24. So I spent several hours setting everything up with various book sites to shotgun the announcement out. One of those sites happened to need an obscure link. I didn’t have it on the top of my head, so being lazy, I just Googled myself. Easy, right? Ha!
Imagine my shock, horror, outrage, boiling fury… you get the idea, when I found my first book on at least three pirating sites! They looked good, too. There, on prominent display, was my book (old cover) offered as a free download, my picture, and my author bio. They’d even gone so far as to throw in some great Amazon reviews, too. It all looked really legit, except I hadn’t authorized any of it, nor was I aware of it until I stumbled onto it by accident.
To say I was displeased is putting it mildly. I’m pretty sure I made some noises only a dog could hear. What’s the big deal, you ask? I was planning on giving it away on March 20th anyway, right? That’s the big deal, in a nutshell. I was giving it away. Me. Because it’s mine. Mine to giveaway. Mine to sell. Mine to delete, should I ever have a moment of insanity. Mine. Mine. Mine. Give me a second while I climb down off of my soap box… there, I’m all better now.
Now that I’ve settled down a bit, what am I going to do about it? Well, turns out I actually have some options. Which is the whole purpose of this post. I want other authors to know that there are options out there and available to them. I also want them to know that even though they aren’t cracking the top 100, they aren’t safe from stuff like this, either. Google yourselves. Go on. I’ll wait. Did you go farther than the first couple of pages? Google your titles, too. You might be surprised at what you find. You might be the one making up super-inventive curse words!
I had no idea that sites like this existed in such abundance. And not just pirating sites, where they can steal your book and hand it out for free! No, there are also scam sites that can get your book. These are particularly nasty little buggers, but between the two, I prefer them to the straight up pirating sites. Scam sites get a credit card number. Whether they actually give away a book, or not, is up for debate. Apparently, the most people get out of these sites is a healthy virus for their computer. Call me vindictive, but if someone is trying to steal from me, I like the idea that they destroyed their hard drive in the process.
I’ve spoken to several people about this in the last few days. The general consensus is, it’s sort of a back-handed compliment. These sites could’ve stolen any book they wanted, yet they chose mine. (I feel so special. I’m thinking about buying myself a tiara, really. Why not?) The thing is, I’m not special. My book has been out less than a year, and while it’s floating comfortably in the upper percentile of Amazon’s rankings, it’s not raking in enough that I’ll be moving to the south of France anytime soon.
So what attracted the sharks? Where was the blood in the water? I have no idea, and that’s the thing which bothers me the most. It pretty much stays on the top 100 list for its sub-genre, but that’s the only thing I can think of. It may be something else. Who knows? It can happen to anyone. The world is a dangerous place, and scruples are getting harder and harder to come by.
There is hope in all of this. A good friend introduced me to a lovely site called Muso. https://www.muso.com/anti-piracy/ For a low monthly fee, they’ll monitor the web for me. So I can get back to writing and marketing, and not have to worry about someone stealing from me. There are tons of other places, too. Just Google anti piracy solutions and pages of them will pop up.
If you’re a regular reader, and not an author, you’re scratching your head and probably wondering why I’m having this meltdown. Most Ebooks are pretty cheap. Indies seem to hover below the $4.99 mark. It’s not like someone stole my life savings, right? Actually, it is. That book took 8 months to write, a year to market, and 20 years to prepare for. Every spare moment was spent writing, plotting, or dreaming about it. For every practical purpose, it is my essence, condensed down to several thousand words. After all of that time and effort, I have a right to what is mine.
I’m exclusive to Amazon. Which means, I put a ring on it, so to speak. In exchange for that exclusivity, every three months, give or take, I’m able to offer my book free for five days. Which is how I catch readers in the teaming river which is the almighty Amazon. I hook them with the first book, and hopefully they like it enough to read the second, and the third, when it’s finished, and the one after that. I’ve heard horror stories of authors, exclusive to Amazon, who lost their place in the Kindle Select program, simply because of a pirated copy. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen to my book.
I offer “Wings of Darkness” all day, every day on Amazon for the more than reasonable price of $2.99. Here’s a link, and a little shameless self-promotion. Go help yourself to a free sample, and decide for yourself if it’s worth that much. Or if it was worth stealing:)