Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Ebook Piracy: How It Affects Authors

So, yesterday, I was already feeling a bit down after having a local library say they wouldn't let me advertise my work. I came home and, in the evening, I find that my first short story The Dead Should Stay Dead has been uploaded to websites for people to freely download without me seeing a penny. As I've been feeling very jaded with everything of late, this has not helped me in the slightest.

I hope this post shows pirates how what you're doing affects the people who produce the material that you so freely take. (I might add that one of the sites I saw charges a membership fee, so they're essentially getting paid for letting other download my work and that of others without us giving permission)

It must have been copied and uploaded when I used the free promo days that Amazon gives, as I noticed that it was uploaded in May. On one site, of three that I saw, it had been viewed about 274 times. I don't know how many downloads that translated to (and it may not seem like many views), but to give an indicator of my financial situation, I'm lucky that my family keep me, else I'd probably be on the streets. So, every penny helps me and you're content to get my work for free. I can somewhat understand it if you're pirating works by well-known authors, and please note 'somewhat' (I don't condone it), because they are wealthy. But to do it to people who are scraping by? There's an argument to be made that I'm charging too much for the short story as well, but 77p/0.99c is the lowest I can charge at Amazon. The work is of a high quality as well, in technical terms (I'll leave readers to talk about the content). If I could set the price lower, I would. Also, if I had more work to bundle together, I'd have done that, but writing's not easy and it takes me quite a while to get something I'm happy with. In three months, I've published two short stories and the latest one is something I finished after starting it in 2009. I have numerous abandoned projects that I could easily polish off and upload without a care. So, I'm not exactly able to put a compilation together and my financial situation dictates that I need income.

This leads me to consider the latest short story I published. It is enrolled in KDP Select again, but I am now considering whether it's worthwhile using the free days if it's only going to be pirated again, especially as my sales may as well be zero each month if I don't factor in friends. But if I don't give it away for free, then how, exactly, will my work get noticed? And no, I've seen no influx of sales after my work has been pirated. I'm at about 9 sales total, across both stories, since first publishing. I can't even get at what little money I've earnt either, and on top of that, Amazon will take a cut of it for tax reasons when I do finally earn enough, if I do ($10/£10 to cash out and I've probably made £2-3 total across all regions).

So, in summary, I can't understand why you'd want to pirate an author's work who is struggling to get by, where even 26p per sale, which is what I get in the UK, makes a large difference. Please think about the effect you're having on people's income when you're pirating their work.

And, because I find what a specific game company did to combat piracy rather smart (they're a small indie developer), you may want to take a look at this:


Bottom line, indie authors, above all need support. In addition, the authors you love may stop writing if they're not making enough of an income.

(As an aside, the fact that my work was pirated brings into question whether or not Amazon's DRM is worth using.)