Saturday, April 23, 2016

Something funny happened this week....

We all know eBooks will be pirated from now until they become obsolete, taken over by some other up-and-coming new technological breakthrough. As much as authors and publishers try to fight it, contacting the pirating sights, sending DMCA take-down notices, it's still just a small drop in the vast bucket book pirates. (I've written an entire blog post with DMCA info & tips--you can find it HERE.) What usually doesn't happen, though, is to have book pirates connect with you, the author. Well, that's exactly what happened this week.

For the most part, I know most readers, including myself, use the proper book purchasing etiquette; buy book from appropriate authorized site, read book, leave book sitting on virtual eBook shelf. On the other hand, you have those who (may or may not) buy the book, (may or may not) read it, then resell it or add it to their illegal pirating site... or social media site.

I had some notifications on one of my social media sites saying someone followed me. Since I don't want to follow nutters (a rule I apply to my life, as well), I went to their profile to see who they were, and guess what? It was a pirate, and not the sexy kind! She had any eBook series you want for just $5, single eBooks for $2, and the first request was free, just message her with the book(s) you want. Hmmm... interesting.

The fact that she'd followed me was a bit funny and ironic--not smart, but funny, nonetheless. I wondered how many other authors, or even worse, publishers, she'd followed. That's like downloading a movie of Harry Potter and befriending someone at Warner Bros., offering to sell them a copy for $5.  O_o

Well, once I looked further, I saw that she was conveniently sending files in an attachment, which could then be forwarded to hundreds of people, if the person receiving them wanted to do that, or could be resold to someone else. She had posted screenshots of actual transaction conversations (not smart) and seemed nice enough, so I decided to just send her a polite message asking if she had permission to sell the eBooks she had listed (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, etc.) and if DRM was applied to them, which I already knew the answers to.

If her profile picture was actually her, which I'm thinking it was, since she soon deleted it, she looked young, maybe in her early 20's, if I had to guess, so I didn't want her to get in trouble. The fact that she was going about it so publicly, following thousands of people (including authors) to gain followers, I knew she had no clue what she was possibly getting herself into. Because of this, I shouldn't have been surprised when she didn't reply and blocked me, which made me mad. Here I was, an author she was (potentially) trying to make money off of, trying to be nice to her... and she blocked me!

A while later, after I reported her account (Yes, I did--her reaction angered me slightly), she unblocked me and messaged me back. This was her reply:
Sorry but what's the difference between me selling ebooks and people selling regular books? I see people doing that all the time. I actually buy these books with my own money so what's wrong with me reselling them? It seems that selling or giving away your copy of a print book that is under copyright is not a problem, so how is that different than passing on your copy of an ebook?

At first I had to laugh, knowing that what she was saying was ridiculous, but then, once I though about it, I'm sure a lot of people think that way. If so-and-so can sell paperbacks, why can't I sell eBooks? Well, I politely let her know the exact reason why. YOU CAN'T SELL AN EBOOK IF YOU DON'T OWN THE RIGHTS TO IT OR DON'T HAVE PERMISSION TO SELL IT. Simple as that. (Well, my reply was much longer, but that was the gist of it.)

In the US, I make anywhere from $1.05-$2.05 for the most expensive book I have self-published on Amazon, which is Life Can Change, listed for $2.99. For my For Always series, which Limitless Publishing owns the rights to, I much less. If I tried to sell any eBooks from that series, even though I'm the one who wrote them, I would get a nice little phone call from Jennifer O'Neill, the owner of LP, requesting that I stop. If I didn't, I'm sure she'd take legal action against me. Why? Because I don't own the rights to them or have permission from them to sell them, just like the average person who buys an eBook doesn't have the right to resell them. So, when someone else tries to do that, usually making even more than the authors do for their own book, it angers them (i.e. me).

EBooks are NOT like print books in the fact that print books aren't digital. One print book can only be bought and sold as many times as it passes through ONE person's hands or ONE book store's doors. However, one eBook file can be given/sold electronically to THOUSANDS of people at once, who can then share it with THOUSANDS more. See the difference? See the money lost for authors right there?

When 'Jane Doe' is selling an entire Harry Potter series ($56.64 on Amazon) for only $5 on her social media site and word gets out about it, who wants to pay over ten times as much? (I would, but I'm a book lover/author supporter.) Yes, I'm sure J.K. Rowling may not miss a few bucks here and there, but most authors, like myself, would. Many authors don't make enough money from writing books to keep doing it. After three years of being published, I made my largest profit last month, and it was from my self-published books. Three years! When authors--the ones who've poured their blood, sweat, and tears into their work--can barely make it as it is, why make it worse just to make a quick (illegal) buck for yourself? Why support that and buy/download from them? Why should some random girl get paid for my books when she has no right to be selling them? When I can't even sell them, myself, and I wrote them?

There's a process for selling eBooks, and unless you do your research and abide by that process, don't sell (or buy) them. 

For those who don't understand what the big deal is, why authors get mad, THIS is why we get mad. And for me to be nice to someone who is, in fact, making an illegal profit off authors' work--my work--only to have them block ME, then unblock me just to try to tell me what they are doing is okay and they don't see a problem with it... that's not cool. Funny that they followed me, yes, but still not cool.