I have Google Alerts set up to notify me when my name or one of my book titles comes up online. Mostly I do this so I can see if/when book bloggers post about my book – I don’t stalk bloggers or anything (that’s not cool), but I have offered free review copies of other books to bloggers because of reviews they’ve written. If they “get” what I’m trying to do with my books, and they enjoy them, I’m happy to provide review copies. They get free books, I get good reviews from unbiased readers, and we’re all happy.
However, recently I’ve gotten a number of alerts for forum posts where people (presumably different people, but possibly only one person using different screen names, I suppose) are asking where they can download The King’s Sword for free. Other forum users recommend various torrent sites (pirating) or sometimes recommend libraries (better than pirating!).
I have a few thoughts on this, but I’m not calling out anyone specifically. Here goes:
- Buy it: Please buy the book if you want to read it. It’s $4.99 as an ebook. Is that really more than you can afford for several hours of entertainment? Do you think that all the time put into writing, editing, formatting, and publishing a book isn’t even worth $4.99? I don’t think that is an unreasonable price. However, if $4.99 is somehow impossible for you, you still have a few options:
- Wait for a Discount: The King’s Sword, along with my other books, is occasionally discounted below $4.99. If you want to find out when it’s discounted, you can sign up for my mailing list. I don’t spam you or anything, but I do send out occasional sale alerts and let you know when I’ve published something new.
- Win It: I regularly hold giveaways of signed copies of my books, generally The King’s Sword or Things Unseen. You can find the signup form here.
- Buy It in a Bundle: The King’s Sword is in a StoryBundle right now. It’s pay-what-you-want. The King’s Sword is one of the bonus books, so you won’t get it unless you pay at least $12, but you also get 7 other books for that $12 (or more!), or you get just the first four books if you pay less than $12.
- Borrow It from Your Library: I really appreciate the people recommending that readers find The King’s Sword at their local library. Library copies have been paid for, unlike pirated copies. Unfortunately, because I am an indie author and not a big name bestseller, my books are not in very many libraries, even as ebooks. I’m very sorry about that – I wish my books were more widely available in libraries. You can help me, and possibly your local library, by recommending that the library purchase a copy of the book you want. Through Smashwords, your library can even get a copy of The King’s Sword for FREE – not all libraries are willing to acquire books through Smashwords, but if yours will, that is a good option.
- Borrow It from a Friend: Do you have a friend who has bought it from Amazon? If so, The King’s Sword (as well as my other books) are enrolled in Kindle Lending, so you can easily borrow it from a friend as an ebook.
Please try these options first. I know that $4.99 isn’t a lot (and I receive even less than that on a sale after fees are taken out, etc.), but maybe it really is hard for you. I’d hope it isn’t a deal-breaker, but I know that financial situations can be difficult.
If all else fails, just ask the author. If you genuinely cannot obtain a legitimate copy, please email me and just let me know that $4.99 is impossible for you, but you’re interested in reading it. I would much rather send you a free copy than have you pirate it.
I would appreciate a review when you’ve read it, but it’s not an obligation. It’s just a request from an author who wants to be generous.
The Effect of Piracy on Authors
There’s a big debate about the effect of pirating on authors in general and on indie authors specifically. Some people say that pirating is a net loss–that the readers gained are offset by the lost sales and overall the author loses money. Others say that pirating is a net gain, despite the lost sales–the biggest hurdle for indie authors (and all authors, really) is discoverability, and pirating helps make books more discoverable. Some authors and other artists pursue every incident of piracy that they can, while others put their own work on torrent sites in hopes of gaining more readers.
I’m undecided on the overall effect. I imagine authors may get different results. I have requested that my books be removed from piracy sites but I have not undertaken any legal action.
For me, the biggest frustration is the sting. Piracy probably doesn’t cost me a lot of money (yet), but it does hurt. It bothers me that people want to enjoy the result of hours upon hours of my work (and my monetary investment in cover art, editing, etc.) without paying the very reasonable price. I’m willing to give away copies for reviews and for promotional purposes, but that’s a choice I want to make. Yet at the same time, I realize that even $4.99 is a lot for some people. It’s less than a fancy coffee, but then again, coffee at a shop is something of a splurge. I also realize that the average cost of living is different around the world… just because $4.99 isn’t much here doesn’t mean it’s not a lot where you’re living.
Piracy is, fundamentally, stealing. Even if the effect on the author’s career is negligible or even ultimately beneficial, at the micro level, individual transaction level, it’s stealing (unless the author put the book up for stealing on purpose, in which case… go for it, I guess).
Please don’t pirate my books.
If you can’t afford one of my books, can’t buy it, can’t borrow it, and can’t win it, please just ask me and I’d be glad to give you a copy. Seriously.