First, let me say that “Book Pirates” is one of those expressions where the literal interpretation is way cooler in your head that in practice.
Today is International Please Don’t Pirate My Book Day, because why not? Also it’s a topic worth talking about. Book Piracy, that is. Author Chuck Wendig over at Terrible Minds has named this day, and asked fellow writers to take a little time out to talk about how digital piracy has affected their lives. I’m not a joiner, after a fashion, but this topic moved me enough to put my fingers to the keys—plus it is one of my goals to bond a little closer to the writing community, which means actually participating in things.
Chuck wrote two great posts on the topic, covering his thoughts on the matter, and they do a great job covering the different points of view on “what is piracy” and the motivation of pirates (turns out, it isn’t rum) and whether or not if you download a digital copy of my book it really means you took money out of my pocket. They are worth a read, and I’m not going to go into those points in detail here, anyway.
What I am going to talk about is how I don’t want you to pirate my book, but I would like to give it to you.
The thing is, I’m pushing to become a successful fiction writer (defined as “Can Support Family via Fiction Writing”) and every dollar counts. I need sales to generate revenue to eke out profit to pay the Danegeld and the grocer. To that end, I’d be thrilled if you would buy my books and stories.
Also there is the truth that when you put down money for a thing, you endorse on some level the idea that the thing is worth something. I’m still new enough at this game that EVERY SINGLE SALE of CLUTCH makes me grin. It is a virtual clap on the back, an implied attaboy!
If CLUTCH were to get uploaded to a torrent site and downloaded by a thousand users, I would feel great—at first. I would think “yes! A thousand folks now have my book! THINK OF THE READERS!” But the truth of the matter is, few of that thousand would read the book. And, as Chuck points out in his posts, spreading a property out over the free-a-sphere (BOOM, nailed it) can in some ways dilute the inherent worthiness of the property.
Still, I need readers. I need a lot of them. I need exposure to get readers. It might be true that at this point in my career the pirating of CLUTCH may work in my favor. But even so… I’d much rather give you my book for free.
If someone wants to read CLUTCH and they can’t afford to buy it, I would be happy to send them an e-copy. If someone is interested but not sure yet whether I’m worth taking a risk on, I’ll shoot them a PDF of the book. This way not only do I get to know that someone out there is reading the book, but I feel good about the way they got it. Plus, I can’t afford all the books I want to read, and you better believe if the author was handing out a free copy, I’d snatch it up. And I have; and I’ve gone on to buy copies from that author of their next book, which is what I would hope would happen with the free copies I send out.
I’m way too new to the game to have been affected by Book Piracy, but I’m not too new to the Internet to understand how it works, and I’ve kept up with all the prevailing arguments on the subject. I am heartily anti-DRM, and I know that puts my book at risk for piracy; but I’d rather take that risk and let a reader share the book with a pal than turn them off “dealing with” my lame attempts to control content.
But this post is supposed to be in support of International Please Don’t Pirate My Book Day, so let me end by saying this: Please Don’t Pirate ANYONE’S Books, and if you want to read anything of mine and can’t afford it right now, just let me know.