Sale and Snippets

Earlier this week, I got the official acceptance for my story “Corrupted,” which will be in the anthology THE MODERN FAE’S GUIDE TO SURVIVING HUMANITY, edited by Patricia Bray and Joshua Palmatier.

To celebrate, have a pair of snippets. I’ve posted a bit from the short story beneath the cut, along with a bonus piece from LIBRIOMANCER.


Arguing Book Piracy

Last week, I saw a lot of authors linking to “Free” Books Aren’t Free, a blog post by author Saundra Mitchell talking about the costs of book piracy.

Let me state up front that illegally downloading books is stealing.  If you’re doing it, at least have the guts to admit you’re committing theft instead of spouting off excuses.

With that said, I disagree with some of Mitchell’s reasoning.  She argues:

If even HALF of those people who downloaded my book that week had bought it, I would have hit the New York Times Bestseller list. If the 800+ downloads a week of my book were only HALF converted into sales, I would earn out in one more month.

Yes, and if my dogs pooped gold, I could quit my day job.  But it ain’t going to happen.  Author Scott Nicholson guesses that 10,000 illegal downloads equates to maybe 5 lost sales.  I suspect he’s underestimating, and the true numbers are somewhere between his and Mitchell’s, but I don’t think there’s any way to say for certain.  I’m just not buying the argument that half of those downloaders would have actually bought Mitchell’s book (particularly since we’re talking about a hardcover.)

She goes on to say:

[M]y book is never going to be available in your $region, not for lack of trying. My foreign rights agent is a genius at what she does, and has actively tried to sell it everywhere- UK, AU, China, France, you name it, she tried to sell it there.  SHADOWED SUMMER will only be coming out in Italy, because that’s the only place there’s a market for it.

The implication being that piracy killed her chances at foreign sales?  I’m confused on this one.  Does the availability of a pirated English book really reduce demand for a Chinese edition of said book?  I suppose it’s possible … most countries are more multilingual than the U.S.  But it’s a stretch, and I’m not convinced.

[T]he sales figures on SHADOWED SUMMER had a seriously detrimental effect on my career. It took me almost two years to sell another book. I very nearly had to change my name and start over. And my second advance? Was exactly the same as the first because sales figures didn’t justify anything more.

The thing that makes me hesitate here is that piracy is an across-the-board problem.  Every commercially published author’s books end up on torrent sites.  Some authors are still doing quite well.  Others, not so much.  So does it make sense for struggling authors to blame book pirates for low sales when other authors are selling well despite said pirates?

Mitchell says a lot I agree with, too.  If you can’t afford books, go to the library.  Try to get review copies.  Or maybe if you can’t afford the books, you just don’t get them.  Wanting a book doesn’t give you the right to steal it.

I agree with her that, “People who illegally download books are more interested in their convenience than in supporting the authors they want to read.”

I’m NOT saying book piracy is harmless.  (To authors or to readers either, for that matter.  Laura Anne Gilman recently pointed another example of a torrent site which was installing malware with downloads.)  Bottom line, it’s a dickish thing to do.

And it does hurt authors.  How much, I don’t know.  I suspect it will hurt us more in coming years, as electronic reading becomes more widespread and book scanning technology improves.  Lost productivity alone is a serious cost for authors who try to keep up with DMCA notifications to various sites.

It pisses me off when I find people illegally sharing my books online.  And I think it’s important to educate readers.  But I don’t think it helps our cause to distort or exaggerate the problem.

Discussion welcome and appreciated.  I expect some disagreement on this one, and as always, I reserve the right to change my mind.

Quick Story Sale

I love you people.  We’re already at 70 or so warnings about Red Hood’s Revenge.  A few of my favorites:

From Christine: Surgeon General’s Warning: Red Hood’s Revenge may cause heroine addiction.

From bodlon: Warning: Red Hood’s Revenge contains princesses under pressure. Do not shake. Talia may explode and cause serious injury.

From several commenters: Do not taunt Red Hood’s Revenge.

If you’re looking for a laugh this morning, read through some of the entries.  (And if you want to win a free book, there’s still plenty of time to contribute your own!)


Yesterday I stumbled across the German cover art for The Mermaid’s Madness.  Or if Google Translator is to be trusted, The Nasty Mermaid.  (I’m told the actual translation is closer to “The Mean Mermaid.”)  Click the thumbnail for the full version.  I like this one — good color, lots of action, and we get to see the mermaid!


Publishing can be a slow business, especially when you’re a writer waiting to hear back from an agent or editor.  My personal record is two and a half years from submitting a manuscript to receiving an offer.  But it’s not always this way.  In fact, there are weeks that make you wish things would slow down a little…

  • May 10-11: Started drafting short story.
  • May 12-13: Decided short story sucked, and started over.  Finished 4000-word draft.
  • May 14-15: Rewrote and submitted story to editor.
  • May 18: Received e-mail accepting my zombie cop story “In the Line of Duty” for the DAW anthology Zombiesque.

Less than a week to write and submit the story, and three days to hear back on the sale.  Not bad, eh?  It’s a twisted little story.  Working titles were Z-men and ZSI, but both of those were a bit too silly.

There’s also been some further activity re: the secret project, but nothing I can talk about yet.  Soon, I suspect … one way or another.

Jim C. Hines