Keelhauled: How Worrying About Piracy Holds You Back

Keelhauled: How Worrying About Piracy Holds You Back

Many authors get up in arms about piracy and Digital Rights Management (DRM). It’s understandable. We worked our butts off for this art and we deserve payment. This post is not about the pay-freelancers-for-their-work fiasco. I whole heartedly think magazines and their online counterparts should pay those providing their content. This is about the tentative relationship between piracy, authors, and exposure. You won’t see me choosing DRM, patrolling piracy sites for my book, or stamping my review copies.

  • DRM (Digital Rights Management) – Digital Rights Management is something you can chose to enable when publishing digitally. It helps prevent the duplication of copyrighted material — in this case, your book. This can also backfire and prevent you from backing up your own finished work. I’ve never chosen to enable it when publishing my work. The reason? I want everyone to read my book, not just those who can afford it. There are many people in this world who can’t afford their next meal, rent, education, let alone a luxury like a new book.
    They still deserve to read. If that means they log onto PirateBay and download a book for free, then I’m all for it, and think they should be able to. Maybe they’ll be my next biggest fan.
    Much of my work involve diverse characters, and LGBT, non-white youth make up a huge part of marginalized (read: impoverished) people. Maybe downloading a book that has someone who looks like them in it would make their day. I’d rather they feel better about themselves than make money.
  • Review Copy Resale — So when our books first come out we often send out copies for review, or as prizes during events. It drums up interest and garners more readers. Apparently some authors have issues with their review copies being resold, even going as far as stamping the first page with “Review Copy: Not for Resale.”
    I think this is bad business. Maybe they’ve never had to scrounge through their change jar to afford a book to read, but I have, and many readers do, too. Selling review copies to a used book store might not get the author a few bucks, but it allows someone who isn’t able to afford that shiny new paperback to buy their next book. Reviewers read hundred, maybe even thousands of books a year. It’s ludicrous to expect them to save every single book they ever read. I’d rather my book end up in a new reader’s hands than in the dump because I’d stamped it with scarlet letters.
  • Be Smart — Many pirating sites have viruses and other horrid things accompanying their downloads. If you’re downloading a book, be smart. Use a trusted site. If you have the money then buy the book from a site that actually gives the author a royalty — Smashwords and D2D give the author the most. But if not, be smart. I don’t agree with pirate sites charging money for my work, but I don’t care if they offer free downloads.

Amphibian Authors in no way condones or promotes the sale of stolen material. This post is directed at authors whose work might be pirated.

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