On ebook piracy

There’s something weirdly flattering when you see that your books have popped up on a torrent site. It’s a bit like: “Hey! I’m well-known enough that people want to make my books available illegally in the shadowy corners of the Internet! That must mean I’m doing something right.”

That feeling lasts about two seconds. It’s immediately followed by: “Wait a minute. People are making my books illegally available in the shadowy corners of the Internet. There’s something really wrong with this picture.”

Like a lot of authors, I have a Google Alert set up for my name. Usually, when I get a Google Alert, it’s something like a new review of one of my books that was posted on a blog somewhere. But sometimes, it lets me know that someone has made one of my books available for free download–which, as I’m sure you know, is both totally rude and totally illegal.

I got one of those alerts last night.

A few times, in situations like this, I’ve been able to leave a comment in the thread linking to the illegal download and successfully guilt and shame the original poster into taking it down. (I guess it’s nice to know that a few pirates out there have a conscience, at least when confronted with the person they’re stealing from.) A few other times, I got banned from forums for doing just that. Funny how that works.

Ninety percent of the time, when my books crop up on “free download” sites, there’s nothing I can do about it. And it sucks.


Please remember that I’m an indie author, so it’s all on me. I have to handle all aspects of publication myself. I put countless hours into writing my books–and that’s just the first step!

After that, I hire my own editor. I procure my own cover art. I format my own ebooks and paperbacks. I do all my own marketing. I pay for any expenses out of pocket. The only way I get paid for those countless hours of work is through legal book sales.

I didn’t enter the wild world of self-publishing because I want to be rich or famous. (If that was my goal, I’d pick a different profession!) I did it because I had a story I wanted to share, one I thought other people might like.

By and large, I’ve been deeply satisfied with my experience as a self-published author. Nothing makes me happier than hearing from a reader who enjoyed Flicker or Brightly, or from someone who’s eagerly anticipating Lights (which is coming very soon, I promise). That’s what it’s all about, truly.

But I don’t think it’s too much to ask that I be compensated for my work–and I think that the 0.99 cents I charge for Flicker and the $2.99 I charge for Brightly are more than fair prices. Buying one of my books is cheaper than going to the movies, and when you’re done, you can reread them as many times as you like. Not a bad deal, if you ask me.

It really weighs on me that some readers out there disagree.

If you’ve downloaded my books legally, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You help make it possible for me to keep writing. (I’m not a full-time author by any stretch of the imagination; I have to do other paid work as a necessity, and fit my creative writing into that schedule.) I appreciate each and every one of you.

If you’ve downloaded my books illegally and you’ve found your way to my blog–well, I hope you’ll take this post to heart. Consider buying my books legally. It’s good for me as a creator, and it’s good for your conscience and karma.

Remember: Stealing books doesn’t make you a fan. It just makes you a thief, and it hurts the authors who create the books you enjoy. Instead, show your support for authors everywhere and buy your ebooks legally.

One thought on “On ebook piracy

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