Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Piracy Information for Authors

(Well, this was my reaction, anyway.)

Your manuscript was accepted and is being published... woop woop!

Now what?

Once I had a publisher, I thought the hard part was over, but I was wrong. Just because your book is being published doesn't mean people will automatically read it. Yes, your friends and family will read it just to see if you're any good or what you have to say... or if they're in it. But how do you get a stranger to read it? Or better yet, how do you get a stranger to buy your book and not read it on a website that's published every single blood, sweat, and tear soaked chapter illegally? Well, I'd like to give you step-by-step tips on how to do just that, but sadly, I have no clue. Famously seasoned authors don't, either. Why? Because we can't control what others read or how/where they read it. However, we can control the amount of sites that enable people to illegally download or read our books for free... at least some of them.


The other day, I was trying to find a link to my novella, "Haunted", on iTunes, but instead of finding it, I came across something that boiled my blood—pirates; and not the sexy Johnny Depp kind. I knew there were probably some copies of my books illegally published out there in the pirate world, but to actually see it... uugh! My baby was being exploited!
I did a search and found another easily accessible site with my baby on it, so I decided to put a stop to it. We, as authors, have the right to contact these sites and have our books removed, which I've spent a lot of time doing, mainly for the principle of it all. Luckily, those sites were easy and my baby was taken down by the end of the day, but there are some that are tough, thinking we can't do anything because they're hidden, tucked away on the other side of a computer screen (or country) where they are untouchable, especially when they don't have any contact info listed. Or they think that 'file sharing' is not illegal—they are just sharing a book with their thousands/millions of internet friends. Well, it's not 'file sharing' when it's not theirs to share—it's stealing.  

How to Remove Your Book

No matter what anyone says, it is possible to take your book off of every sight that has illegally uploaded and published it... if it's worth it to you. Honestly, some of these sights are hard to find, and unless you know someone who uses them or spend a lot of time searching for them, you (and most readers) will never see them. And even though you probably won't be able to take down their site completely, you can take down your book. 
First, you need to find their contact information. This is usually the hardest part, since they obviously don't want you to know who they are... but there are ways to find out. If their contact isn't listed anywhere on their site, you can go to or and find it. It not only lists their name, but ALL of their info, including address, telephone number, and email.
Second, you'll need to contact the website owner with an email, which is the easiest and quickest way and is usually enough to have them remove it, especially when you address it to them personally, using their full name as owner of the website, which seems to get their attention. Make sure it's formal and includes the title that has been infringed upon and the website that it's illegally published on. Demand that it be removed immediately before legal action has to be taken. I also request that they notify me when it's been removed.
If you get no response, their information isn't listed on a look-up sight, or you don't want to have to deal with them directly, just send a DMCA takedown notice directly to their IP service provider, which is who they set up their website through and is on the look-up sites. You can find a sample DMCA letter HERE and a list of IP service providers and the EXACT person you need to contact HERE. You can also contact the DCMA and have them do a professional take-down for you, which will cost you $199.
You can also break bad on them and sue for damages if it comes to that. Most sites know this and will eventually give in and remove the copyrighted material before that happens.

To Wrap it Up

Our books are going to be pirated and we're not always going to be able to do something about it. It happens. Am I going to fret about it? Probably a little, but it's not the end of the world. If you are loyal to your readers, they will be loyal back. So treat your readers and book bloggers like the gems they are, letting them know you appreciate them whenever you can, sharing your stories and inspirations with them, letting them inside your world. Don't be the kind of author who practically goes off on a blogger because they mentioned you too much, blowing up your notifications. In my opinion, having my notifications blow up is the best thing EVER! And when they do blow you up, let them know you appreciate it. I always try to acknowledge readers' posts or comments and connect with them when I can. We are all book people, we just hang out on opposite ends of the book sometimes.

I hope this has provided enough information to help someone make the pirates walk their own page-covered plank...
because when they fall off the end and that book is removed,
the splash sounds so sweet; like victory.

One down, many to go.
But together, we can do it!