Deadly Sins Against Authors

One of the e-loops I’m on recently discussed the subject of piracy. I was shocked to discover that a newly published author (so new that her books have not yet hit the shelves), found her book on a pirate site. How could this happen? The suggestion was offered that the source was possibly from an ARC (Advance Reader Copy). These copies are distributed when the author does promotional tours, often virtually, and provides an ARC as the prize for a competition. So, in good faith an author provides a copy of his/her work and then bammo, it’s uploaded to a pirate site and the work is available for free. If the author wished to distribute his/her work for free he/she could quite easily accomplish that via their own website.

Writing a book is hard work. Writing a book good enough for publication is very hard work. It can take up to a year to create and that’s after all the years taken to learn the craft. So piracy is not only stealing someone’s work, it’s taking part of their life as well.

Talk about being morally bankrupt.

There’s a reason why theft ranks up there in the top ten.

What could be worse than piracy? Again theft – in the form of plagiarism. And worse than that? Plagiarism by someone you know. The integrity of authors, be they published or unpublished, experienced or newbies should remain above reproach – in this respect at least. To steal your fellow’s work is not just theft, it’s betrayal. It’s disrespectful, it’s egotistical to think it doesn’t matter and it’s illegal.

Some would advocate punishment by flogging. Well, let’s not get carried away, but ostracism? I think judgement should lean that way. As well as public notification of the crime. Maybe like the drink diving ‘bloody idiot’ add, a tattoo across the forehead proclaiming their sin should be introduced.

I’m living in a dream world? Possibly, no scratch that – probably. Maybe that’s why in my books I tend to kill off all the bad guys.

Well, that’s my rant for the day. Some things just push my buttons and theft is one of them.

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8 Responses to “Deadly Sins Against Authors”

  1. Helene Says:

    Lol, you made me laugh despite the serious nature of your post, Sandy. A writer does have fun killing off the people they don’t like!!

    Pirating is becoming more common. I’m a little more ambivalent then I used to be – if it spreads your readership far and wide then ultimately it may not be the tragedy it first appears. Sure you and your publisher miss out on royalties, but when I see the number of free or 99 cent books available on the internet I wonder if we’re not already seeing those returns diminished now. Readership is largely word of mouth so the more people who read your book the more who may buy it as a gift for a friend or relative – and that probably won’t be a pirated copy. The whole e-book dilemma, which has perplexed the traditional publishers, is bound up in making sure their property can’t be pirated. That may not be possible so perhaps a better way of dealing with it is to price e-books more sensibly and accept that there’s leakage.

    Plagiarism is another matter but Barb Hannay has reminded our group several times that there are no new stories, only new voices telling them a different way. Direct word copying is deplorable but it’s inevitable that some stories may end up being similar.

    Now back to editing – you’re the only blog visit I’m allowed until these copy edits are done!!!

  2. sandra Says:

    Hi, Helene! Yeah, you can do the ‘dirty deeds done dirt cheap’ anyway you like in a book! :) Your approach to pirating in sensible and stress free, I shall keep it in mind.

    I’m flattered to be your only diversion – wondered why you hadn’t posted any new blogs for a few days.

    Yes, plagiarism is a blot on the writing community. I heard of a case recently that had some pretty incriminating evidence and thought ‘how could one writer do that to another?’

    Hope the edits are going well. :)

  3. C.T. Green Says:

    Great post Sandy! I think you have a point Helene. I’d add that I think it’s up to the publisher to make sure the distribution of authors is world wide on or as close to the release date as they can get. I often buy books from overseas simply because they’re not available here. Sometimes not for another six months after release. I also suspect I’ve unknowingly bought pirated ebooks from what I thought were legitimate sites, because they had the titles I wanted when other booksellers didn’t. I live in regional Australia, a factor that makes purchasing books harder. I think availability is half the problem sometimes – not necessarily the cost of the books. I’ve become cannier about my book buying, but it annoys me when geographical location limits my ability to purchase a book I’d really like to read.

  4. sandra Says:

    So hear you on the distribution point, C.T. I think they should consider pricing as an issue as well. Recently I was after a latest release by a favourite author. When I finally managed to track one down in a book shop it was $50. I ended up getting it from Amazon, landed in Australia, for about $13. What’s that about?

  5. Helene Says:

    Those crazy prices are sometimes just because they can. The distributor doesn’t want to admit they don’t have the book but to get a copy will involve them paying full price and then adding their mark-up. I don’t think they actually expect anyone to pay that price (at least I hope not!!) but the winners are the big on-line traders like Amazon. Hachette have decided not to do a B format of Shattered Sky and will instead reduce the price of the e-book. They fully expect backlist to be bought for ereaders now instead of a smaller mass market book. Interesting times still around the corner:-)

  6. sandra Says:

    I actually found the book in-store, Helene. It was in Borders right about the time they went bust.

    What’s a B format? And can you explain what ‘backlist to be bought for ereaders’ means? :)

  7. Suzi Love Says:

    Sandy,
    Love your idea of killing off the bad guys.
    Book thieves should be dealt with, mercilessly!
    Suzi

  8. sandra Says:

    Thanks, Suzi. :) The power of the pen! Helene makes a good point about being mellow about it and at least if you’re with a publisher their legal department can do the dirty work.

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