TO MY LOYAL READERS: This is not a rant about you, who buy my books and email me, and have joined the new Edge of Peril group only for those who’ve read all six books. This is to another crowd altogether.
However, one of them asked recently, what’s the difference between giving away a paperback you want to share with a friend, and sharing an ebook. Good question! When someone gives away a paperback, it can be given to one person at a time only. One single ebook can be passed indefinitely. With each unauthorized download, the author, publisher, cover artist, and editor each lose a percentage of the value of the book, known as royalties. Plus, when you purchase an ebook, it comes with certain limitations, among which are the prohibition of sharing the book in any form whatsoever, including emailing it.
The complacent era of “oh, you can’t stop online pirates; shut one down and another pops up” is outdated and quickly being abandoned. The group I founded, Marketing for Romance Writers, makes me privy to inside information from author-victims. There are many small presses that simply do not see the danger of e-piracy, or understand how serious the loss of business is not only to their authors, but to them.
For example, say a small press has 50 authors in its stable. For the sake of argument, let’s suppose in one quarter, each author has one ebook pirated, at an average loss of $1.75 per unit, and 100 units per author are downloaded without payment. I did the math:
$1.75 (royalty) X 100 (units) X 50 (authors) = $8, 750 (loss of royalties per quarter)
Now, considering the average royalty is 30-45% depending on contracts, that leaves 55-70% loss of sales for the publisher. Assuming the ebook sells at the publisher’s site for $5, and the author’s royalty is 35% , that means a loss for the publisher of $3.25 per unit pirated. The math for that is even more alarming.
$3.25 (pub profit) X 100 (units) X 50 (authors) = $16,250 (loss of profit per quarter)
When looking at the black and white numbers, it’s pretty obvious that unchecked, pirates would soon drive the very authors they claim to enjoy (and their publishers) out of business.
No publisher, however large, can afford to ignore theft.
MAJOR KUDOS TO READERS who email authors when they see this type of site. WE LOVE YOU!
Authors also advise one another in several ways. One way is a new group formed by author D.J. Manly called AACT – Authors Against Copyright Theft. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/authorsagainstcopyrighttheft/ We would be delighted to have you join us. We also advise our publishers, whose legal departments go to work immediately.
Is this a losing battle? NOT AT ALL.
Authors and readers are not the only ones out there who take a strong view of this crime. Everyone who has a stake in royalties is a victim and those who understand the seriousness of this attack on our financial standing are becoming involved. This includes Interpol’s Anti-Piracy Division founded September 8, 1977 (as you can see — this has been around awhile). It includes pirated videos/CDs/DVDs and no doubt Blu-Ray soon.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Crimes Division is also becoming increasingly active. They started out protecting their own cyber network and material. However, a consortium of publishers are now working with them to push a bill through Congress that will make ebook theft a federal crime, with full prosecution involved not only for the site providing links to downloads, those who provide the download, and each person who actually does download a book. High time. It must stop.
Why? Who does it hurt? Let me tell you how it hurt me. My most recent release, Surrender Love was downloaded at one spot 148 times, costing me personally $400 in lost royalties.
You don’t know me, so why should you care? Maybe if you considered there was a person behind that book it would make a difference, so here’s a little bit about me that I hope you’ll consider the next time you see a Kayelle Allen book offered for free.
That $400 would have provided me with enough money to afford two medications I should take daily, but can only afford every other day. Each person who downloaded my book took a life-preserving pill out of my mouth.
My husband and I have been married 34 years, but due to job losses, we now make too much for medicaid and we’re not old enough for medicare. What else about me would you like to know? My unemployed husband is going to college on a scholarship, receiving unemployment so long as he maintains a 3.0 average. He’s making a 3.6 and going strong. He was in manufacturing for years, but most of the local jobs are being shipped overseas or south of the border. He can no longer work in call centers like he did years ago due to moderate hearing loss. Being a certified nurse’s assistant with a stethoscope that works with his hearing aids will mean we can afford food in the house and perhaps have insurance again.
So when you ask who it hurts, it’s people like me. People like me who write because they’re passionate and work up to and above 80 hours a week to churn out books for an audience, while also promoting my books and inviting guests to join me on chats on my yahoo group, Romance Lives Forever. I’d hate to think that any of my members would steal one of my books by downloading it without pay and then attend my chats, hoping to win something for free.
I’m grateful for the huge majority of honest people who appreciate my work and are honorable enough to pay for what was a labor of love and passion from the heart.
I’ll be launching a new contest soon that will enable group members to gain recognition for reporting thieves they find on the internet. I’m fine tuning this now, and want to recognize you because you are one the true heroes out there!
“Pirates” is too glamorous a word for what these thieves do. Let’s save that term for characters like Cap’n Jack from Pirates of the Caribbean, and the hot heroes who turn out to be good men pushed so hard they make mistakes, but are redeemed by the love of their heroine (or hero);) in our books.
Since several of my characters are members of the Thieves’ Guild in the Tarthian Empire, I have to be careful about throwing around the word “thief” as if it’s a dirty word. Goodness knows I don’t need my thief-muses making me pay dearly for that, because their type of theft is under contract and strictly legal. (that’s right. go read my first book! lol) =^_^=
I say we call those who steal our royalties what they really are. Criminals.
Time to take a bite out of crime. Don’t download freebies unless the author gives it to you! These are hard times, and we work just as hard as you do. Some of us have day jobs and write as well.
We create these worlds and stories for you because it’s our passion and we love it. Please, if you respect our work, do the honorable thing and respect us enough as a person to pay for it.