5 How-to Tips: Handling the Dreaded eBook Pirates by guest @macpetreshock
As you can see from the photo on this blog post, my book FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS has been pirated.
No. The photo has not been Photoshopped.
Yes. That really is over twenty-five THOUSAND downloads shown.
For reasons of contractual nondisclosure, I can’t tell you how much money that lost me, not to mention my publisher, but you can imagine I could have bought SOMETHING with what I would have earned from those possible sales as opposed to the NOTHING from the illegally downloaded copies people stole.
Stole. That’s what downloading pirated copies of eBooks is: stealing. Don’t sugarcoat it, readers. The taking of that which is not rightfully yours equals theft.
As authors, we’re well aware what piracy means. We know what it means to our bank accounts and what it means to our publishers, particularly those of us with indie publishers. Big blow to the potential revenue. For those of you self-publishing, I can’t even imagine how hard it is to see that painful loss. And I’m certainly not pretending the Big 5 aren’t affected by piracy.
I am not an attorney and am not dispensing legal advice, but I can share some helpful hints as one author to another based on my personal experience and acquired knowledge.
- Set Google Alerts. Google makes it simple to keep an eye on the happenings with your books and potential piracy. I set alerts for both my name and book title so anytime they show up in Google’s search engine, I receive an email notification. I’ve found several incidences of piracy this way.On the positive side of life, I’ve also been notified of book reviews on blogs I wouldn’t have otherwise known about and have enjoyed sending out a tweet to promote the loveliness that popped into my inbox from such finds.These alerts aren’t all doom and gloom, folks, but they are hugely helpful.
- Have a “cease and desist” letter prepared. As I said above, I’m not an attorney and cannot dispense legal advice, but a simple cease and desist letter isn’t difficult to write up. You can find the skeleton for one on various websites, but I’ll share the simple version I use.
Dear owner or operator of (insert web address), I am the copyright holder of (insert title here), and as such, must ask that you immediately cease and desist offering illegal and free downloads of (insert title here) published by (insert publisher name here) in the United States on (insert date of publication here).This letter shall serve as official notice of your infringement on my copyright on (insert title here) and my request to have (insert title here) removed from your site immediately and without hesitation.You are in violation of US copyright law. Please remove (insert title here) from your site immediately.This can be tweaked to your suit your needs as self-published books wouldn’t need quite the same wording in the section regarding publisher.
Whatever version of a cease and desist letter you need, you should definitely keep one on file to email to any site owner where you find your book(s) available for download.
Keep records of the emails you send, who you send them to, and replies received. Expect to get the run around. A lot.
- Know your way around YouTube. One of my biggest shockers was to find out how eBook piracy has adopted the popularity of YouTube as a means to advertise. I’ve repeatedly had to file claims of copyright infringement with YouTube when videos advertising pirated copies of FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS have popped up.First of all, be aware of this problem. Second of all, be familiar with YouTube’s copyright infringement policy and how to report it.It’s seriously easy. The little flag below videos on their site? Yeah. Click that.The step-by-step process from there is self-explanatory, and you can report multiple videos at once. I’ve yet to find results to take more than 24-48 hours, and they’re always in my favor. When I fill out the form with “This video advertises pirated copies of my ebook.” and give the reason I have to file a complaint as “I am the author of this book.” they act without hesitation. I doubt you’ll have any trouble either.
- Monitor your titles. Google is not the only search engine out there. Google alerts are wonderful, but don’t “set it and forget it”.From time to time, run searches on other search engines such as Yahoo, Ask, Bing to see what pops up. The results may differ, providing additional sites that need your attention in this unfortunate matter.Also under the “monitor your titles” category: be careful to whom you provide free (non DRM) copies to for reviews or other purposes. These are high risk for piracy. Certainly, there are good and reputable reviewers. And there are not. Be mindful.PDF copies are even more easily given away and converted into a variety of versions. Be wary of reviewers/bloggers who say they can only accept a PDF copy. eReaders for mobi and ePub files are freely downloadable apps on just about any smartphone, tablet, laptop, or PC. Trust me. I’m not paranoid. I’m cautious.
You can’t STOP giving copies of your book to reviewers/book bloggers, but don’t blindly pass out copies to every person who calls themselves a book blogger. If you have a publisher/publicist, it is best to let them make the decisions as to who receives these copies unless the reviewer/blogger is someone with whom you have an established relationship in some way.
And always, Always, ALWAYS know your publisher’s policy on this before giving copies to anyone for anything. You know, all that breech of contract and other basic DON’T BE STUPID stuff we authors must be aware of. Take heed.
- Know your limits. US Copyright laws, cease and desist letters, careful monitoring, and all the actions you take can only get you so far. *big fat sad face*Not all sites make it easy or even possible for the average author (or publisher) to find their source or any means to email a letter demanding they stop providing these illegal copies of your books. (Read that as “STEALING FROM YOU.”)You can (and should) tweet and Facebook, blog and Tumblr, and any other means of shouting from the internet rooftops, (I highly encourage this behavior.) letting readers know that the illegal downloading of eBooks is wrong. It hurts authors. It hurts publishers. It hurts the industry.
This is by no means a fully comprehensive list of information and/or resources, but I hope it helps. eBook piracy continues to run rampant. As authors, we can’t necessarily be proactive in any way to prevent it, but we can actively monitor and quickly react to do whatever possible to stop illegal downloads of our books.
A little knowledge goes a long way in arming ourselves with the tools to fight back.
Best of luck to you all. May the Force be with you.
About the Author:
Melissa A. Petreshock is a full-time wife, mom, and author of FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS (Stars and Souls Trilogy #1), an Amazon bestselling New Adult Dark Fantasy Romance. Look for her on Twitter,Facebook, and melissapetreshock.com, where you’ll find her blog. You can pick up a copy of FOSAD at these online retailers: Amazon, BN, iBooks, Kobo. Watch for BLOOD OF STARS AND GODS to release Winter 2014.