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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dr. Charm VS The Pirates

Pirates aren't uncommon in the choppy waters of publishing. Every remotely successful author is all but guaranteed their own pirate story.

Somehow I didn't think a niche genre novella selling for $2.99 from a small indie press would be the sort of thing to grab a pirate's attention. Frankly, I wasn't sure it was going to grab anyone's attention! It's my (very quiet) debut and authors are inclined to worry about things like this.

You can imagine my surprise when a Google Alert popped for a place I've never heard of: Mobilism.com

Someone was requesting the ePub version of my book (available from Breathless Press, All Romance e-Books, Book Strand, and 1 Place For Romance right now - it will be on Nook and KOBO in the next week or so) in exchange for 10 WRZ$, the currency of the Mobilism site. At first, checking from my phone, I thought this might be a book selling site that I just hadn't heard of. Stranger things have happened. I still don't know who buys book on Diesel, but I sell them there.

Alas, it wasn't to be. Someone wants to buy my $3 novella for $10 fake cash. That's quite a mark up, and out right theft. Most pirate sites either list the book for free, or the pirate changes the cover and sells a plagiarized text as their own. This is the first time I've run into a site where the pirates charge each other for the stolen copy. I guess it's Port Royal of the internet.

Mobilism claims it isn't a pirate site. This is from their welcome page:
Welcome to Mobilism...the single largest user-powered database of apps, games, movies and books for mobile device users of all platforms! With over half a million members and millions of users, over 100 000 releases, and more than 750 000 posts, Mobilism is one of the largest and oldest mobile platform sites, as well as, in our opinion, by far the most organized one.

So sit back, download some apps, learn something new, and enjoy your stay!

No pirated material is hosted on their site, only links. Which is a little like saying the pimp selling a ten-year-old on the street isn't really a pedophile, he's just enabling. Maybe the kid was 18, was he to be the judge? Did the pimp know a person paying for the kid's company for an hour wanted sex? Maybe they were going to play video games. It could happen...

Nor am I the first person to be violated by Mobilism. Lloyd Shepard, author of THE ENGLISH MONSTER found himself in a similar predicament. He asked the person why they were asking for a pirated copy, a legitimate question under the circumstances. The responses were actually polite, if a bit cliche. Pirating books is compared to the thrill of Robin Hood, or the dues authors owe society, or the fact that a person can get the book for free so they should be allowed to get the book for free.

There's even a page on the Kindle Boards going round and round on whether or not piracy is good for an author.

So, here's my 10 WRZ$ on the the subject of piracy...

I'm not flattered. I'm not happy. I don't think this will boost sales or help me in any way. It certainly isn't helping my Karma when I visualize the pirate being mauled and eaten by the bear in my backyard. Especially when I laugh at the idea of the pirate's skull showing up in tomorrow's pile of scat! (But, seriously, the look of surprise on your face, Pirate. He he he!)

Why would anyone steal my hard work?

Could the person asking honestly not find the ePub files? Were they impatient because Barnes and Noble and Kobo are lagging?

Could they not find my email address to ask me? I'm pretty sure I still have one author copy to give away.

If this were one of my short stories I don't think I'd be as upset. I give away my short stories to newsletter subscribers every month. And, in a sense, the short stories are already paid out. The only one who loses anything when I give away a short story is me.

But when EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE gets pirated, that's different. My editor suffers. My small press suffers. My cover artist suffers. My future career suffers because of lost sales. The misery is one eternal round.

If three dollars is really that far out of your budget, send me a sob story, I'll probably buy the book for you. And I will buy it, because that way my editor, my press, and my cover artist get their portion.

You see, that little book up there. I wrote it. I edited it. It's my creation, but I had help. The beautiful cover art was done by Dara England, who also did the cover design on SEVENTY. I had two editors, plus the copy editors and formatters and publicists and everyone else at Breathless Press who put time and energy into polishing the book and making it wonderful. They all deserve to get paid for their work. There is no argument you can make that makes their work something the public should have a right to for free.

Don't pirate my work, please. You're killing my zen, damaging my karma, and generally making life darker for everyone who put work into this book.

If you really, truly, desperately want to spend $10 on EVFIL, send me an email. You can send me $10USD and I will send you EVFIL in any format you like plus a signed thank you note. It's really not that hard. Promise.

- Liana


  1. I just can't believe it. Well, I can. But it's so scary! People just don't realize how much work a novel actually takes nor how many people are involved in its making.
    I hope things steer our of negativity's path!

    1. I've done the rounds on this argument... "Writers like writing so it should be free." - "An ebook isn't a physical thing, it's an idea, so no one should pay for it." - "Pirates aren't your target audience, so you aren't losing sales."

      The last one might have some merit. I listen to the radio, but that doesn't mean I buy MP3s. I'm a casual consumer of whatever music happens to be playing, but the artist has been paid. So have the musicians, song writer, and producer.

      Really, if someone wants a free book it's easy enough: Go write your own.

  2. Can I just download it for $2.99 three times and keep a dollar?
    I think that math makes more sense. :)
    Seriously though, I'm really amazed and appalled. Not only are they stealing, but they want to PROFIT from stealing. It's like breaking into your house, stealing your DVD, just so they can copy it a million times and sell the DVD on the black market. I mean REALLY? That's just brazen.
    I feel a need for retribution. I hope this gets fixed.

  3. That's a bummer! I can't understand why anyone would go to the trouble of ripping off a novel when it's so easy and inexpensive to download legally.

  4. The message I took away is that this person values a hackers skill at destroying DRM more than they value my writing skills. They want to enjoy the world I created, but they aren't willing to acknowledge the time, effort, or creativity that was put into building that world.

    I might be over thinking this. Maybe the requester just didn't know where to find a legitimate ePub version of the book. Maybe. I'll probably never know.

  5. Some people take pleasure in getting anything they want for no price or work on their own part. I call them spoiled brats but pirates and hackers are just as descriptive.

    I've watched my husband and daughter do art over the years. I write myself as well as do other crafts. I know how much work goes into anything. My brother-in-law can sit down and draw a fantastic picture in 30 mins but that doesn't mean he shouldn't get paid for his work.

    I have no sympathy or respect for anyone who is not willing to pay for someone else's work. It's different when the author or artist is giving away something for a contest or charity because then that's their choice.

    Using fake money is an insult. Anyone who can find one website to buy something through can find other websites. The requester didn't want to look for legitimate versions. If he or she didn't know that the site was pirating before your email back then he or she certainly did for the response. The response alone indicates that the person knew the site was for pirating copies.

    As for the radio analogy, radio stations know that they are providing a service to their listeners and are paid through the advertisers instead of by their listeners. It is what they are there to do and while recording companies hope people will buy the cds and mp3s after hearing the songs on the radio, they know it is but one method of getting their product out there. A radio station is like a library, it allows you to sample the work but you can't own it.

    1. I've seen the argument that e-books aren't owned either. And... I get it.

      People hitting pirate sites do it for a variety of reasons, maybe they get a thrill out of doing Something Bad and get addicted. Maybe they do it for the attention and response. Maybe they'll wake up one day and realizing that hurting people for cheap thrills is an unhealthy attitude and finally go see a therapist.

      In the meantime, I'm visualizing happy things. *bears chasing pirates*

  6. I am dreading finding mine pirated. I almost hope people won't be interested enough to do so. I've been seeing in the stats of my blog that people have put in the search term 'download free copy of ' and that's a bit worrying. So they may be looking for that book on a special offer. Many authors do free promos of their books for a day or two. But just maybe they think and expect to be able to get that book for free anywhere, anytime.
    I have a short story up for free. But I want to be paid for the blood, sweat and tears that went into my novel, and the hours and efforts that my editor and publisher spent on it, on the cover, on the conversion, on polishing it and promoting it. They're owed, even if a pirate doesn't think the author should be paid for it. Computer programs don't have a physical form but have to be paid for. MP3 tracks have no physical form, but have to be paid for. So pay for the damn book. Or wait for a promo day.