Thank you to everyone who commented and e-mailed about my ASD post on Friday. I tried to keep up and respond to everything, but there was just no way. I read and appreciated them all.
So on Saturday, Google Alerts brought up an individual who had reposted my entire First Novel Survey on his blog. Then on Sunday, someone posted a heads up link to an e-book “lending” site.
I’m not a rabid pirate-hunter, nor am I terribly fond of or impressed by DRM. That said, I spent a month working on that survey, doing the research, writing it all up, putting the graphs and graphics together.
I’ve also sold reprint rights for that article. I.e., as a professional writer, this is one of my sources of income. Not a major one, but that reprint sale will pay for a week’s worth of groceries for my family.
If you want to link back to it, great. Quote a snippet, no problem. But to copy and post the whole thing without permission? Illegality aside, that’s a dick move. An unintentional one, perhaps. Sometimes this sort of thing happens from ignorance or cluelessness. But still highly annoying to the writer who did the actual work.
I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the blogger. Not so with the e-book “library.” Our so-called librarian even begs for donations on the site, because you see, he has bills to pay. He goes on to explain that since he (allegedly) bought these e-books, “[the] authors and thieving publishers have received their due.”
This makes me cranky, in part because I’ve been busting my ass even more than usual this month. I’ve written, revised, and submitted a 4000-word short story, a 2000-word sample chapter for a possible novel deal, and continued to work on Snow Queen.
My “thieving” publisher will read my work, write up editing notes, pay for the book to be copy-edited, typeset, and sent to me for final proofing. This is before their sales force heads out to do their thing, before the hire a professional cover artist, and before the publicist starts working to build word of mouth.
You can argue that obscurity is a greater threat than piracy, and you might be right. You can argue that piracy doesn’t actually cost writers sales, that people who download these files probably wouldn’t have paid for the book anyway. That this could be good for writers, because it can be a way to get new readers.
All of that might be true. But when that “help” comes from someone who calls authors/publishers thieves for the crime of wanting to be paid for our work? Someone who at the same time begs for donations to pay his own bills? I’m perfectly happy to build my career without that kind of help, thank you.