Something that makes me Mad – Reasonably or Not

So, I was checking my Google Alerts, which, it turns out, is a way to perform Stupid Web Tricks while at the same time achieving plausible deniability. It’s a total win for authors, in a passive-aggressive way that completely appeals to me. There are also some unintentional chuckles.

Historical readers may know that two of my books are Lord Ruin and The Spare. Google Alerts on these first of those two titles are quite often links to role playing boards where Lord Ruin is a favorite character name. Who knew? Or else really strange religious poems. A fair number of people seem to pray for the Lord to ruin them or something. Alerts for The Spare often end up at pages talking about spare change or the spare room or something equally silly and uninteresting to me.

Today, however, I got a Google Alert that led to a pirate-torrent site where someone wrote, more or less:

This is my first request to this board. If someone could please upload My Wicked Enemy by Carolyn Jewel I would be grateful

This post completely exploded one of my main reasons for not objecting to pirate copies of my books. Don’t worry (or do, depending) I have reasons for objecting, too. That reason is that some of my books are not available in digital versions and/or are impossible to find at reasonable prices used.

My Wicked Enemy, however, IS available in multiple digital formats and, in fact was not so long ago offered as an Ebook for $1.99. This book is also easily and cheaply obtainable in paper (but they kill you on the shipping if you buy on line.)

What am I to conclude except that this person wants something for nothing? At my expense. And I’m not talking about some amorphous lost sale of a new book.

To be brutally honest, my first thought was Lady, if you like my books, for the love of all that you hold dear, go buy my book, because I need every damned sale I can get if you want there to be more books by me.

Really. My ability to stay published is dependent on two things: 1) Writing a really good book and 2) Sales.

It doesn’t matter how good my book is, if sales are poor, my publisher, rightly, will be saying to itself, this is not an author we should publish again. And they would be right. They’re in this to make money. Trust me, at this point in my career, future books are NOT assured. At my level, every single book sold counts. It really does.

That was my knee-jerk reaction.

What I wish is that some independent 3rd party would do the study that determines whether pirating helps or hurts an industry. There are arguments made both ways and I find some of each to be persuasive in varying degrees. To be honest, the helps side seems to point to the same tired examples of the same exceptional cases and adding in that pirates won’t buy your stupid book/album/software anyway so why bother. The exceptional case, of course, with books, is Cory Doctorow, an author who 1) does NOT write romance (his market is completely and utterly different from mine) and 2) is already at the top of the author heap.

You can be pretty damn sure that Cory Doctorow must have a sweet deal with his print publisher such that he can make digital versions of his books available for free. There aren’t many authors who are going to get that kind of deal, and if they tried to insist, there wouldn’t be any deal.

It’s not like publishers don’t get that giving away books stimulates sales. Hachette gave out loads of free copies of My Forbidden Desire prior to and immediately around the release date. They don’t, however, have a constant and unending supply of free books for people.

I don’t have any answers because I recognize that I do not have sufficient facts to reach a conclusion.


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5 Responses to “Something that makes me Mad – Reasonably or Not”

  1. RKCharron says:

    Hi Carolyn 🙂
    Thank you for the thoughtful post.
    I don't have any easy answers either.
    I do know that markets evolve.
    I bought my daughter a cd for her birthday and she (laughing) said nobody buys cds anymore. She's a young teen. All of her friends were grinning & nodding. MP3s are all they get/have.
    I don't know if this is a forerunner to the publishing industry but it is telling of the market evolution.
    I'm hoping that ebooks in a NON-proprietary format & NON-proprietary reader will take off like mp3s & mostly replace print. I know print will always be around. The marketplace will have to shift its dynamic of payments around, whole shipping departments, unions, warehouses, etc will be obsolete, prices for ebooks should be half of a paperback price. Piracy will fade away as more are widely available.
    I don't know if this makes any sense or not, it is just my rambling feelings & thoughts on the subject.
    All the best,

  2. Daniel Kelly says:

    Carolyn, thanks for your comment on my blog – it was right on target.

    I just read this post, and I totally agree with you. I've tossed around the idea of writing a book but haven't had the time yet (I'm a student, and work full time). I would be so frustrated if somebody published my book to a torrent site illegally.

    It's unfortunate that people use P2P networks, which are inherently a great thing, for actions that end up hurting people.

    If you love a book, a website, a music album, etc. Support the author or artist! Then you can lend the book to other people who maybe can't afford it!

    The arts are a great part of our society, lets not kill it by starving the artist.

    I totally know how you feel, my good friend Chris is in a band and he's been taken advantage of time and time again. It's the only thing he wants to do in life – make music, but he's starving because people think it should be free.

  3. Carolyn says:

    Hey, thanks for the comments. RKCharron, you're right about the frustrations of DRM. A lot of legitimate users are screwed by DRM.

    Daniel, I hear you on supporting artists. Follow the money — and it's not the artists who usually have it. The notion that supporting yourself selling T-shirts instead of your music strikes me as insulting to everyone but especially to the artist who's trying to build a music career. There's no way they'll ever sell enough T-shirts to matter.

    And you're right about P2P, too. It's a great tool that gets talked about as if it's evil, when it's not.

    Good luck with your writing!

  4. miki says:

    Hi, Carolyn,

    This is a late post, I know, but something about this person's freebie request really got to me. Here's the thing: if the individual can't afford the book, we have this place called the library, where you can get the books for free. AND, if the library doesn't have the book, you can request the book for purchase. Helps the library (clues them into what their patrons want to read), helps the borrower (that's self-evident), helps the author (Bookstores and libraries benefit each other. People read an author they like at the library, and buy the book for themselves.) It's all a win.

    Taking a person's work without paying for it, is just plain stealing, and there's no excuse for it.

  5. Anonymous says:; You saved my day again.