by Charisse Howard
Cybercrime. That’s a problem for high-profile corporations, right? Not for an author of historical romantic suspense novels.
So I thought until this morning, when I Googled to check if the audio version of Lady Barbara & the Buccaneer is out yet, and discovered someone’s stealing my books.
It appears my second Regency Rakes & Rebels romance is quite the hot ticket. Currently exclusive to KindleUnlimited, Lady Barbara & the Buccaneer‘s sales for September on Amazon (list price $2.99) are zero. That’s surprised me, since the comments I’ve heard from friends, as well as the online ratings at Goodreads and elsewhere, have been very positive. Could the reason I’m not earning any royalties be those illegal pdf copies? which were downloaded for free by 106 readers today, and 776 readers so far this week?
Here’s a peek at the pirates’ website, which I hope WordPress.com will have taken offline by the time you read this:
For me, the most galling datum on this page is that 214 readers rate the book 9.1 out of 10; yet Lady Barbara & the Buccaneer hasn’t got a single review out of all that enthusiasm.
One can argue that freebies are a popular, even essential, part of book promotion. To that I’d counter: How likely are thieves to turn into buyers? Aren’t the people who deliberately stole a book they could have bought for le$$ than a slice of pizza liable to be the same freeloaders who e-mail me to say they loved my last book, and will I please tell them when I do a giveaway of my next one?
What I’d like to tell them is this. Writing a book, especially a good book, takes time–a lot more time than reading one. Your favorite author has bills to pay, same as you do. If you want her/him to keep entertaining you, then shell out a few bucks to help keep him/her at the keyboard. If you can’t afford to buy the print book, buy the e-book. If you can’t afford the e-book, check out a copy from your local library, or pick it up for free with an Amazon Prime, KindleUnlimited, Scribd, or Oyster subscription.
And what I’d like to tell my fellow writers is: Keep an eye on your books. We can’t track them everywhere; that way lies madness. But with Amazon encouraging readers (and authors) to believe Free Is Cool, who but us cares if we get paid for our work?
We have other (and better) choices besides KDP Select giveaways. One is the contests and lotteries on Goodreads and other sites where you can donate a limited number of free copies to be won by people who truly want to read your book, and are likely to review it. Another is Kindle Countdown. Another is Smashwords’s “choose your price” setting, where the author can recommend a price but allow readers to pay whatever they can afford. This tactic recently shot to the top of my faves list when it brought Lady Caroline, the Corsair’s Captive a glowing 5-star review.
If I ever figure out how to earn a living from writing books that nobody pays for, I’ll happily join up with the 21st century’s Abbie Hoffmans. Until then, literature has enough problems without being plundered by latter-day Jean Laffites.