I’ve been awake since 5:00 a.m. I’m still so angry after yesterday’s events that not even watching the sun come up with a cup of coffee in my hands has alleviated the ache in my gut. Instead of calming down and putting my mind in gear to write, I’m sitting here getting angry all over again.
I write for a living. It is not my hobby. I pay bills, put food on our table, and I pay contractors (editors and cover designers) who work with me. I’m not a best-selling author. I’m barely mid-list so it’s not like I’m rolling in money. I don’t get six figures a month, much less in a year. Some months I’m lucky to get three figures. When self-publishing was just hitting it’s stride, I made a decent living. Then the scammers and pirates hit the scene.
Scammers figured out the algorithms and ways to game the system to rake in the big bucks with mostly drivel. In some cases, there is outright plagiarism and sadly, the burden of proof is on the plagiarized author to prove their original work. Then came the piracy sites who entice the unwary with “free and cheap” reads but are mainly cesspools of computer viruses and phishing for credit card info.
And now? Now the bastards have gone to a whole new level of perfidy. They’s STOLEN my whole book–the cover, I assume the interior because I’m not going to buy my own book to check, and my author name. They uploaded my newest indie book, NIGHT FIRE, to iBooks on iTunes, lock, stock and barrel listing DIVERSITY PRESS as the publisher. I’m sure they put their bank account information into their account so any royalty earned goes to them, not me. I just freaking published this book the first part of June. I published it exclusively to Amazon in their KDP SELECT program. Part of the terms of service is I CAN’T PUBLISH THAT BOOK AT ANY OTHER VENDOR!!!!! These asshats are jeopardizing my contract with Amazon. The bulk of my sales come from Amazon. THEY ARE TAKING FOOD OUT OF MY FAMILY’S MOUTH!!!
Yes, I’m taking steps but the on-line retailers don’t feel any pressure to “get right on this issue.” Yes, I have an attorney involved. Yes, I’m small potatoes compared to some of the authors I know who are caught in this, too. Some have lost THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS.
THIS IS NOT A VICTIMLESS CRIME.
So, what can you as a reader do? PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE check the information before you buy. If there are TWO (or more) listings for the same book, with a difference in price, LOOK at the publisher name. Make sure you are buying the legitimate copy! If only one books is listed, check for author, publisher, and seller. As for me, I work with two publishers–my early books are still published by Wild Rose Press. My contemporary romances are all published by Harlequin. My indie books will have ME listed as publisher and in some cases, a seller (either Smashwords or Draft2Digital) will be listed. These are legitimate. Any other publisher? NO!
Conscientious authors want to create the best product we can. Yes, a book is a product and you readers are consumers. While we love what we do, we can’t afford to do this for free. Some of us have to put a “loss-leader” book out there for free or at a reduced price in order to attract new readers. I won’t give you a lesson in writing economics except to say this: Yes, funds are tight. I want my readers to be able to afford my books but in order to offer my books at a lower price, I have to sell a certain number of books to make up the loss. That’s been really tough the past year and pirates stealing royalty by stealing my book exacerbates the problem. You can help by reporting any suspicious listings to the author so we can check to see if we’re getting ripped off. Again.
I started out really angry. I still am but by laying this out in a semi-logical way, I’ve calmed enough to maybe fix the book I’m currently writing. I’d just figured out where I went wrong with the time/plot line yesterday when this whole mess blew up. I don’t have a staff. I don’t have a PA. When this
shitstuff happens, I have to stop and deal with it. Most of my day was lost yesterday. If I don’t write, I don’t publish. If I don’t publish, I don’t get paid. Funny how it works that way.