For those who haven’t figured it out, Clover Raymond is a pen name I use while writing articles and opinion pieces for Associated Content. I am actually Crystal-Rain Love, an author of the following romance genres: contemporary, romantic suspense, and paranormal.
I generally try to keep my writing life separate from my AC identity, but today I will not because today I am going to share with you why e-piracy is such a bad thing, and who it hurts.
I have the ability to see where my website visitors are coming from, and since the release of Blood Curse (Blood Revelation Book One), my first print release, I have seen a barrage of visitors, the majority of which are from outside the US.
Naturally, any onslaught of visitors is exciting as the author can imagine how this increase in visitation will result in sales. Then we get the royalty statements and see the sales we’ve made are nowhere near the same as the amount of visitors to our sites.
So we do the searches on Google.
And we find the sites where our books have been uploaded and are available for illegal downloading.
Some of these sites charge a user fee, making money off our hard work, and some just offer everything up for free, “sharing the craft”.
The authors of these books receive absolutely nothing. Basically, we are flat-out robbed.
Oh, people can preach about how downloading has helped the music industry until they are blue in the face. We don’t care. Books are not the same as songs. Musicians still have concerts and other promotional materials they can sell to make money. Downloading may work for the music industry. It does NOT work for authors.
Today I found twenty-three separate files of my five published books available on one piracy site. On this one single site, there have been over 70,000 downloads of which I received absolutely nothing, nor did my publishers who have a vested interest in the work of their authors.
I am not honored that my work has been read 70,000 times by thieves.
I am especially not honored by the fact that Moonlit Watcher has been downloaded over 9,000 times today. Moonlit Watcher was written to benefit charity. I don’t get a dime of it either way it goes so before anyone starts spouting off about how greedy I am, my ire over this particular illegal downloading is due to the fact that I’ve done the math. By uploading Moonlit Watcher to a piracy site, some lowlife scum has effectively stolen from the American Heart Association, the charity this book was written for. If those 9000+ downloads had been legitimate sales (which, by the way, are only $2.50), AHA would have received over $24,000. Instead, with the combined sales of all twenty-eight titles in the 28 Days of Heart charity campaign, we raised about $7,000 in one month. $7,000 in one month from legitimate sales of twenty-eight books versus $24,000 that could have been raised off one book in one day. Yes, it infuriates me.
I am not touched that people like my books so much they request them to be uploaded to these sites rather than purchasing them. It is hard to find any sort of pleasure in people reading my books for free when I have spent the last seven months trying to support my three children and keep my home while desperately searching for a job. Yes, people, I am a victim of the downturn in the US economy. I lost my job and unlike the stereotype of unemployed people who sit around all day living it up while collecting their checks I have been avidly searching for employment. Despite 15-20 applications sent out each week and numerous interviews where employers try to narrow the pool of 400+ applicants for each job to just one lucky applicant I have found nothing. How wonderful would it be if I could actually make a living off the sales of my books?
I had two books available for purchase the entirety of last year, and I made around $200 total. I found this surprising considering the heavy traffic to my website. Well, it is not a surprise anymore. Why would I make money when all people have to do is troll my site for new material and request it to be uploaded to a piracy site rather than purchase it? One person buys one copy of my book and uploads it so thousands of people can download it for free with no further compensation coming my way. In the end, I make about $2.00 despite that same book being read by thousands.
Doesn’t seem very fair, does it?
Know what else is unfair? The way authors are attacked when we dare mention our displeasure over being ripped off. No person would go to work for weeks or months at a time if they were not to be compensated. It takes weeks, months, even years for some authors to write one book. I myself average six months per novel, which is a step-up from the year it used to take when I first started out. Considering the time it takes to complete a novel, is it any surprise we want to be compensated? Wouldn’t you want to be compensated for your work?
Oh, wait. Writing is a hobby, not a job. Sure. All that revising, editing, and writing of synopses and queries (which, by the way, most authors hate to do) is just fun. Yes, authors write because they enjoy creating fictional characters and worlds. This doesn’t mean it’s easy. We go through rejection and criticism constantly. And even if this is “what we love” how does that justify us not getting paid? Should an accountant who loves working with numbers not get paid to do his job? That doctor who just saved your life loves her job, too. She enjoys saving people so let’s not pay her for that. How dare people make money by doing something they enjoy?
And for those who think writing a book is not work, you go through the countless revisions and heartache it takes to get a book published while constantly working on honing your skills and tell me it’s not work.
Now let’s discuss the other misconception about piracy: The people who download your books illegally wouldn’t buy them anyway. You should be happy someone is reading your book. You write to be read, correct?
Um, no. No, no, no, no, nooooooo. If I wrote for a hobby, or “just to be read”, I would simply pass my work around to friends. I subject myself to the pain of criticism and editing for publication in order to make money doing something I am good at and enjoy. I am trying to provide a better life for my children.
If the people who illegally download my books “wouldn’t buy them anyway” fine. Let them not buy my books. But let them not get them for free either. My website is constantly trolled over, and you know why? These people who illegally download one of my books decide they like the book. They like it a lot. They want to read more of me, but they don’t want to pay. They got one book for free, why not get another? All they have to do is put in a request and the site owner or another user will buy one copy and upload it so thousands can get it for free. This does not make me happy when I consider the time and work put into writing the book that is now being read for free by so many people. It doesn’t make me happy when I calculate those illegal downloads which would have equaled sales if these pirating sites did not exist and unethical people who use them had no choice but to buy the book. Even if not all of them did, just a fraction would equal enough money in royalties that I could pay this doctor’s bill sitting on my desk.
Sadly, the majority of authors (of all genres) do not make anywhere near the amount of money as Stephen King, Nora Roberts, J.K. Rowling, Dean Koontz, etc. We probably never will, as mega-rich authors are very few, but we would like to at least make a decent living off of our work. With e-piracy cutting us off at the knees, this will unfortunately not happen for most of us. How can the little known author make it when his/her work is being stolen faster than it took to create?
Those authors mentioned above can survive e-piracy, but it is taking out some really great ones who just don’t stand a chance. The creation of e-books seemed like such a great idea, but even though I got my start through the world of e-publishing, I regret it. With the creation of e-books came e-piracy and it is growing just as fast as the sell of e-books is rising, basically canceling out progress.
The piracy site I found every book of mine ever published on had this statement on its contact page:
If you’re contacting us regarding a takedown notice, please keep in mind that we do not comply with the DMCA or any other American laws. If you send us a kind mail, you will get a kind response. If you are rude, you will get a rude response. If you send us a DMCA notice or threat us with any American penalties, you will not get any response.
Nice, huh? What is left to do? Not publish anything anymore? Why should I? I’m not really getting compensated for it. I love hearing from a reader who enjoyed my story and it really touches me when readers get emotionally involved in one of my series.
But I can’t feed my kids or buy their school clothes off my royalties that are denied me when my work is illegally downloaded.
I don’t care if someone buys my print book and passes it off to a friend, nor do I care if my book can be found in a library or used book store. That is one physical copy. Honestly, I don’t even really mind if someone buys my e-book and allows their cousin or aunt to read it, but when someone buys one copy of my book and uploads it to a file sharing site and that one book I received about a dollar or two on is then downloaded by thousands of people with no further compensation to me or my publisher… It’s just wrong. And it really makes me question why I bother.
Even the piracy sites who do accept takedown notices will just turn around and allow the same book to be uploaded again. Going after the piracy sites doesn’t seem to do anything. All that’s left is to appeal to the users of these sites and beseech you to actually consider who you are hurting when you download an author’s book for free.
The majority of us are living paycheck to paycheck, or in cases like mine, struggling to find work. You are stealing from single parents, handicapped people in need of medical care, new parents, retirees scraping by… You are not just taking money out of the author’s pocket, but you are taking food out of their children’s mouths or maybe even medicine from their elderly parents. And you aren’t just hurting the authors and their families, but the publishing companies and the employees who rely on book sales in order to keep their jobs and provide for their families.
Don’t have the money to buy our e-books? I’m sorry, but it doesn’t make stealing from us right. We are trying to get by, too. There are hundreds of books I want to read and can’t find at the library, but I don’t have the funds to buy. I wait until I do. I don’t steal. I have a conscience that will not allow it.
If we can’t stop the spread of piracy maybe we should just give up writing and spend those countless hours babysitting or something else that will pay our bills. Then there would be nothing new to read. Personally, I would love to have a global strike. Let all authors not release anything for a year. I imagine those illegally downloading will finally stop… when it hurts them.
***If anyone would like to legally purchase one of the e-books in the 28 Days of Heart campaign benefiting the American Heart Association, please visit www.allromanceebooks.com and choose Series in the pull-down search box. Enter the search term: 28 Days of Heart and you will find all of the books which benefit this charity. There is a wide assortment by a variety of authors, and 100% of the proceeds benefit AHA.***