Why Authors Should Stop Stressing About Book Pirates.

Book Pirate

I see the statuses and tweets often. An author has discovered their book on a pirating site and is FURIOUS about it. After all, why shouldn’t they be? Their work is being stolen, the hours of writing, revising, and editing has been reduced to a freebie download for any cheapskate to steal at will.

The first time I spotted one of my books on a pirating site I was livid, but as time went on, and I got used to hunting these files down and requesting their removal, my perspective on book pirating changed. Hear me out, and perhaps the next time you spot your book on a pirating site you won’t feel the wrath of Lucifer bubbling up inside you.

Pirating is NEVER Going Away. Get Used To It.

This is just common sense. Pirating has been around forever, and with the digital age, it’s only gotten worse. Hollywood and the music industry were the first to feel the effects of digital pirating, and they took up a fight to try and prevent it. Millions were spent suing websites, fighting for legislation, and trying to create a digital barrier between pirate sites and would-be downloaders. Much like the war on drugs, the war on pirating has proven difficult, and nearly impossible to win. Book pirates are the same. We can’t stop them, no matter what we do. If we find a new way to encrypt ebooks, they’ll find a new way to steal them.

It’s A Right Of Passage.

It might not be the most pleasant right of passage, but it does mark your transition from aspiring author to published author. Congratulations! Someone finds your book interesting enough to steal it!

When I was an aspiring author I would have done anything to get people to read my work. During the drafting process of my first published novel, I pushed it on anyone willing to give it a read. If you had told me back then that someone would want to STEAL my work, I probably would have wrapped it in a bow and sent it off with a thank you card. So if someone is pirating your book, you’re officially in the club. 🙂

Most Of The Sites Are Fake.

In my quest to track down and vanquish book pirates I’ve discovered that most of the sites claiming to offer my book for download are total bullshit. One site might say that 1200 people have already downloaded it, another says 26,000. That’s a lot of books! And if I calculate the royalties lost on those numbers I might faint. BUT if you go a step further and actually try to download your own book you’ll find that you can’t. You either get prompted to enter a credit card number or the links lead to nowhere. Oftentimes these are bait sites designed to lure in unsuspecting book-seekers, and when they try to download the link they get hit with a virus. So if you see your book has been downloaded 47,000,000 times, don’t freak out, chances are, it hasn’t.

But what if it has?

Worst Case Scenario: You’ve Found New Readers.

Chances are the illegal downloaders did not hinder the legitimate sales you’ve made. Let’s face it, those people illegally downloading your books were probably never going to buy your book anyway. I know, I know . . . you don’t want to give your books away for free, but in the unfortunate event that it HAS been downloaded a bunch of times, stay calm. The truth of the matter is, readers have found your work, maybe they even like your work, maybe they join your FB page, follow you on Twitter, maybe they go on to buy your other books, or tell all their friends about how much they loved your book.

If your book was in a library and you found out it was borrowed 6,000 times, are you upset that you weren’t paid royalties on 6,000 sales? If your book is in paperback, and someone buys it, reads it, and sells it to a used bookstore that then sells to another person, would you be angry you weren’t given a cut of each sale?

No.

You’d be happy that people were reading your book, and hopefully that reader is the word-of-mouth you’re going to need to be successful. As a new author you’re main goal should never be income. It should always be exposure. You want everyone and their mother to read your book, and if your book is being pirated, you have certainly been exposed. 😉

Book Pirates Suck! Book Downloaders Might Not.

We can all agree that the hosting sites for book pirating are a bunch of SUPER JERKS! If not for them being the book pusher, we might not have this problem. But they’re here to stay, so let’s take a look at the people downloading these pirated books. Do you have an image of who might be sitting behind that computer, snickering as they basically steal your work? I used to, but in my search of pirating sites, I came across something that made me reconsider my view of the downloaders.

My first book, The Darkness of Light, was available for download on a pirating site. I know it had actually been downloaded because people were discussing it in the forum. Then in the thread, someone posted the cover of the sequel, The Embers of Light, asking where it was available. The thread went on and on, and no one could find the link anywhere (it was fairly new at that point, so it’s definitely available now). A few of the posters made comments to the original poster about buying the book, that illegally downloading books was wrong.

The original poster, and some of the follow-up commenters defended themselves. One guy said he lives in the Philippines, doesn’t have a tablet, and can’t afford to buy the books he wants. Another poster said her parents wouldn’t let her buy books like that. A few others showed little concern for their actions.

It was a mixed bag of responses, and while I completely agree that book pirating sucks, I feel better about it knowing that people, who otherwise wouldn’t have access to my books, found a way to read them. This is why I no longer get angry when I spot my books on sites. If I can find one true reader, take the damn book if you can find it.

Taking Action.

Since the previously mentioned site appeared to be a legitimate downloading site I sent the DMCA Takedown Notice (you can find a sample notice to copy here) to the admin, and within 24 hours, my books were removed.

Now I have a monthly routine for hunting pirates. Somewhere around the first of the month I track my sales numbers, enter them into a spreadsheet, then move on to Google and type in my name, and the names of my books to find pirated copies.

I almost always find at least one website claiming to have one or all of my books available for download. If I can find a place to contact them, I send the DMCA notice and forget it. If I can’t find contact info, it’s usually a virus download so I don’t bother.

Then I go about my day, happily writing books and not spending an ounce of energy on book thieves. Sure, I could spend hours trying to track down the hosting sites, checking and rechecking to see if they’ve taken the books down, but what good does that do? I’m wasting my time being angry when I could be writing. And after all, isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing most of the time anyway. 🙂

What to expect from a developmental edit.

After months and months…and MONTHS of sweating over my drafts of THE EMBERS OF LIGHT, I finally got it to the point where it was ready for developmental editing. I think this is a step many indie-authors skip, thinking that beta-readers, critique partners and a proofreader or even better, a line-editor will suffice.

But let me tell you this. Unless you have a super-genius friend who KNOWS what they’re talking about, you NEED a developmental editor, otherwise known as a content editor.

I’ve had experience with two developmental editors or DEs, as I call them. The first DE I had for The Darkness of Light used a summary approach. I sent her the manuscript, she read it, and then sent me a three page detailed report, mostly written in point form, of areas I needed to fix, plot holes that needed filling, and certain word choices I needed to cut.

With her notes I was able to restructure my novel and make changes to certain scenes and characters.

The most recent DE I used for EMBERS was from Julie Hutchings (find her, she’s amazing!) It cost double the price, but it was worth every penny! The notes were line-by-line within the manuscript and included a summary. For me, this works better because I can follow her thought process as she reads. I can see what the reader sees and understand what a reader might need to stay interested in the book. Luckily for me, Julie also can’t seem to bypass typos. So in addition to line notes, she also gave me some grammar and punctuation corrections throughout the manuscript.

When I opened the document she’d returned to me, the first thing I saw was a sea of purple comment bubbles on the right side of my screen. But as I read through them, I saw how insightful and positive her comments were. Any critique or suggested change made perfect sense to me, and I feel like she really GOT the story (do you know how hard that is to find in an editor?). I had a few discussions with her on some of the changes, just to clarify what she thought would work best, and after sifting through all the grammar corrections, I got to work on the content.

I’m lucky this time, in that most of the changes needed are minor enough that I don’t have to do huge re-writes. Most of the comments/critiques involved character voice and the development of dynamics between certain characters.

I am SUPER happy with this edit and am working on the changes right now…well, right now I’m writing a blog but…you get what I mean. 🙂

Now, a lot of critique partners will also use this method of note taking, but remember, a DE is a person being PAID to give you an opinion. They know you expect them to be 100% honest about every single thing. THIS is why DEs are so important in the writing/publishing process. Not all of us can rely on beta-reader feedback alone.

What you should look for in a DE.

It’s important to choose a DE that works with other authors within your genre/category. For example, you don’t want a DE who is a YA author or only works with YA authors, to edit your erotic novel. Some editors are versatile, but if you pick the wrong DE and your vision doesn’t match theirs, you’re going to end up with a bunch of notes you don’t agree with and can’t use.

Pick someone who you believe will be honest, and when they are honest, don’t take offense. Editors spend a lot time going through your manuscript, and while you might not always agree with their suggestions, you don’t have to take their comments as a personal attack. Let the editor know your expectations prior to hiring them. Julie warned me that she would be really tough if she needed to be, and that was perfect because that was exactly what I was looking for.

Ask how they deliver their notes. Is it a summary? In document comments? How thorough are they going to be? You’d better ask what you’re getting for your money before you start shelling it out.

What comes next?

For the next couple of weeks I will work on the changes Julie suggested, and then do a final read-through of the entire manuscript. The next step (which is one no author should ever, ever, EVER skip) is the copy-editing/line-editing stage. Even though Julie made corrections for me, I need to have one final defense against typos, errors, bad sentences, and bad grammar. A line-editor is someone who goes through your manuscript and fixes ALL the mistakes. I think I learned a lot through my last edit for DARKNESS, so we’ll see if I have less errors this time around. 🙂

 

Grammar: You and I vs. You and Me

I’ve noticed a lot of people getting You and I and You and Me confused. So here’s a very simple rule to help you remember when to use each phrase.

You and I = We

e.g. “You and I are going to the store” (WE are going to the store)

You and me = Us

e.g. “Mom wants you and me to go to the store” (Mom wants US to go to the store)

Make sense?

If you still have trouble remembering, think of the Lifehouse song “You and me.” It’s a song about US.

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