I've recently read a few blogs and articles by authors complaining about the fact that fiction is being pirated online in much the same way that music and movies have been being pirated (wow, that's a crappy sentence construction. And I call myself a writer. Yuck.) for the past few years.
Today, while working on some stuff for the science fiction book I'm trying to write (fingers crossed, people. I'm REALLY excited about this one, which means I won't say anything else about it. This writer's block has been KILLING me.) I stumbled across a google books result for Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. After reading the excerpt, I determined that the book was pretty sound and that I'd like to read the whole thing. Of course, child of the 21st century that I am, I wanted to read it NOW, not in a week. So I checked out Amazon--no Kindle edition. I just downloaded Kindle for PC, and I dig it. Saddened, but still not willing to order the book and wait for it to ship to me, I googled the title and ebook. About five search results in, I was directed to megaupload.
And there it was. The whole book. For free. Just waiting for me to wait 45 seconds and then click the download button.
What did I do? Did I say to myself, "Now Valerie, if you download this book, you'll be cheating poor Mr. Card out of his $.45 royalty. Don't do it!"
Um, of course I didn't. (And I also know that had I actually bought the print book, I would have bought it used, so Mr. Card would never have actually gotten his royalty anyway.) This, of course, begs the question, how would I feel if I knew that readers were downloading my stuff for free and not paying me.
On some levels, this is kind of silly. After all, Breathless and Tortured are available for free online. Trembling and Mischief aren't, but they will both eventually be available for free. Since I do provide free content, I can't get too bent out of shape when it's offered for free somewhere else.
In fact, Breathless's pdf versions have been uploaded to both scribd and wattpad. In neither case was I asked before the versions appeared, nor has the person who did it contacted me. Furthermore, if I google my name, I run into someone who's asked on yahoo answers where to download Trembling for free.
Overall, this does not bother me. It makes me feel pretty excited, actually. The scribd business is further exposure for my book. More people get to read it. Yay! The business about someone trying to "steal" Trembling just makes me feel like I've arrived. I look at it this way. There are people out there who are so into my work that they are making it available on alternate sources or looking for it. Either way, these people are investing time in my product. Time is valuable, like money. A person who invests time in my product is a fan. I can use as many fans as I can get.
(That's not to say that I don't wish the scribd stuff would link back to my page. I do.)
The way I figure it, if a person is going to take the time and effort to figure out how to download your book for free, that person wasn't ever going to spend money on you anyway. At least this way, I get a reader.
Furthermore, in the case of indie authors like myself, I doubt that many people even KNOW WHO I AM. Let alone try to "steal" my books. The more people "stealing," I figure, the more people buying.
Overall, you can't fight this kind of technology. You HAVE to embrace it. If you don't, you become Lars from Metallica, who I used to find really attractive. Oddly enough now, I really, really don't.