So, romanticized, shirtless, sexy pirates with pet parrots and secret hearts shinier than all the gold in their treasure troves on Tortuga island? Great, we love them, more of that please. But book pirates? No thanks.
To be clear: I have pirated things before, all sorts of media too–just so much stealing for one little person who didn’t even consume it all. Growing up with the wild west version of the internet and then transitioning from cable TV to a million different individual streaming services will do that to a person.
But I’m grown now, and even in my darkest, most thief-iest times, I never stole from a small creator. You can argue the definitions all you want, but illegally streaming Friends doesn’t have anywhere near the same impact as what I’m about to talk to you, Dear Reader, about, and apologies for the incoming rant, but if you want to skip it and get to the good stuff, scroll down to the links–you can hop onto any of those sites to get free books directly from the creators, and they’re awesome!
Okay, onto the rant…
Pirating books is wrong. Especially the books of indie authors. Yet it seems like every self-published book somehow ends up on those illegal download sites, including every single one of my own. (I’ve appealed directly to google to remove the links to those books from searches of my titles because the sites themselves won’t take them down–DCMA requests are bullshit and do nothing, so I really don’t have any recourse except to whine about it here, hence this post, to get it all out.)
The words I’ve spent years cobbling together, the money I’ve poured into software, covers, readers, marketing, etc., the time I’ve spent building worlds and characters and plots, the heart and soul I’ve breathed into these manuscripts to make them whole–I know all of that means very, very little to anyone who’s not me, and I know all of that doesn’t matter a single ounce when it comes to critique or even expectation of others to read my work, but I also know that I have the absolute right to expect anything I’ve curated and posted for sale should not be stolen from me.
But it is. A lot.
My books are incredibly cheap. As of this post, five out of six are in Kindle Unlimited, which is free for those users, or priced at $3.99 or less, and the sixth book is $0.99 on Amazon or completely free by signing up for my newsletter. But even if they were as expensive as a traditional ebooks, there would still be no reason to steal them.
Is reading essential to life? I believe so. Should access to literature be a human right? I also believe so, which is why I support public libraries and am thrilled to pay taxes. There are, of course, those without access to libraries, though, and I do my teeny, tiny part by giving away a book for free, and four of my currently released books have all been free on Amazon for multiple days resulting in thousands of downloaded copies.
And I am by no means in the minority of authors who do this. The most common practice new authors are taught is to give away a free book when they start out. We learn that this is also a double-edged sword: things people get for free are rarely valued very highly, so sometimes it bites us in the ass, this thing we do to help others and ourselves. Many of our giveaways just sit on someone’s ereader to rot, others are read and rated very low because the reader picked it up seeing it was free but didn’t pay attention to the genre, and then there are the readers who are only looking for free books, so the conversion rate to future buyers isn’t super high. But we still hand out hundreds of thousands of our words daily in order to find that tiny percentage of future fans and to provide a service: free books for any reader.
And I post about them every month in my newsletter. I use StoryOrigin to promote my books and giveaways, but there are loads of sites where, as a reader, you can grab books for free:
So, there’s no excuse for piracy. You should be able to read, you should have access to great reading material, but you don’t have a right to every single book you want for free just because you want it. I’m a massive socialist, and even I don’t believe that! Sometimes artists need to be paid for their work so they can, ya know, keep creating art. So, please, don’t pirate books. Especially not from small creators. Look for giveaways from authors you love, ask your local library to get a copy of a book you want, check out any of the sites I listed, just be a good steward of words. Please.