I chat to a close friend every night on the phone and every time I have to blog I always say 'Cyn, what should I blog on.' She said (because it's hit so close to home for me these past few weeks), 'Tiff, blog on the pirating of your debut book.'
I said NO WAY - because I don't think I can be civilized about it. Screw that, why should I be civilized about someone/ANYONE stealing MY work?
I told my friend this is pretty much how a blog on pirating would go (are you ready? I swear LOTS, and I'm an honest woman, so I won't hold back - not that I normally do):
Dear Pirates and Whore-ders of free things - because let's face it, it's free so you think you need it, and you think it's okay for you to steal it, because it's already there and others are stealing it, too:
Yup, you read that right. And I'm not ashamed to say it again. Fuck You! I don't believe in ladylike words. I believe in saying exactly how you feel. And right now, I really HATE pirates.
I tried very hard to ignore my google alerts that gave me a link and everything to my very own pirated book. I tried putting off clicking on those links telling myself I really didn't want to know if my book was being stolen. I was even so naive as to tell myself it wouldn't affect my bottom line (sales on print books).
I always knew at some point in my career my book would be pirated. I knew it. It's sad that that is just the state of how things are. It's almost like it's an accepted norm. Well you know what, going to your local clothing store and taking something off the rack and shoving it in your purse is not okay. Hell, going into your local bookstore and stuffing a book in your bag without paying for it is NOT OKAY! It's STEALING.
So what makes anyone think they can download books off the net for free?
Readers, I want you to spread the word right here, right now: You know all your favorite authors? You know the ones that aren't NYT sellers or USA Today sellers (hell even the ones that are) well, by downloading those 'free' books online (even if it's not you but someone you know), pirates are systematically destroying writers careers, our art, and our livelihoods. Downloading free books is a sale our publisher never sees and therefore we are worth less to them in the long run. All pirates succeed at by downloading free books is ensuring that many mid-list authors do not see another contract.
I'm currently working toward a second contract. This is a big deal and a scary deal in publishing. They say it's harder to land your second contract more than your first - and I worked HARD to get my first contract. And I'm working HARDER to get my second.
I'm going to be very VERY frank readers and writers so it's easy to understand (and remember I'm one author) the damage pirates wreck is to thousands upon thousands.
My first book had a 30K print run. That's actually not too bad in this ebook savvy world (right now). HOWEVER, in the forth month of that book being out (January) There were a total of three websites with free downloads of my books (yes, sites I initially avoided because I said I didn't want to know after the first one I found one month after The Surrender of a Lady released--which at the time had less than 4 thousand illegally downloaded books).
Each link had more than 10 thousand books downloaded when I clicked on them earlier this month. That is thirty thousand books I did not sell. That I will not make money on. That I cannot support my family with, that hurts me when I want my next book contract because I can't sell through the stock I have because people would rather steal from me.
Here's a real life picture. I work TWO full time jobs (yes one is my writing career). I do this to support my family and because I love writing. I have two small children that I support with these paychecks--do you know how expensive it is to live in Toronto? And to raise a family here?
Step back readers and think about your favorite authors. Writing is their livelihoods, too. If you know someone stealing books, tell them why it's not okay. Tell them that they are destroying someone's life. Tell them that they won't be able to read their favorite authors if they don't stand up for them and say no to pirates.
I feel impotent with this. I have a wonderful publisher with a wonderful legal department that tells these illegal persons to take down the free downloads - and it works for a day or two, but there is always someone else there to post it again. It's almost impossible to keep up with the sending out of take down notices.
So here is my letter to the pirates and readers of this blog:
Pirates, I hope you enjoy the one finger salute I'm giving you in my mind every time I think of what you are stealing and everyone you are hurting. And because this is my blog and I can say exactly what I feel Fuck You!
And for my readers, I truly love you and the support you've shown me as a debut author. It's a tough business, and I love it in my own crazy way, and I love that you support your favorite (or even new) authors. Continue to do so, and tell people: friends, family, colleagues, whathaveyou, that stealing books is wrong. It's ILLEGAL and it is literally taking food from a baby's mouth!
Rant done. And no, I'm not sorry in the least that I stated my true feelings on this topic. It's been tough facing the reality of my illegal download numbers compared to that of my actual print numbers and my smaller weekly sell-through numbers.