In the age of digital content, piracy is something we’re all familiar with, whether it’s music, movies, or TV shows. Did you know that e-books are also a target for piracy? It’s not something you hear about, but it happens. As an avid reader and someone who hasn’t always had the money to afford the latest book release, I understand the urge to do this, but you have to understand how harmful this action is to writers, whether they’re traditionally or independently published.
Let’s start at the beginning. Writing a book isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a process that can easily take a year, and that’s just for the first draft. Then the manuscript needs to go through beta readers and several rounds of edits before it’s at all ready for publishing. If a writer is self-publishing, the rest of the process isn’t as lengthy, but it’s more expensive. For those seeking to enter the traditional market, it’s a much lengthier process and can take years and numerous rejections before they find a publishing house that will take them.
Now that we’ve covered the time factor, let’s talk cost.
What do you mean, it costs money to write a book?
Well, no. You can write books until our alien overlords come to enslave us and not spend a dime. To write a book that doesn’t suck sweaty donkey balls, that’s going to cost you. How much is ultimately up to you and up to which publishing route you take, but there are costs involved. Generally, you can get betas to help you for free, so that’s not an issue. Hiring an editor is expensive. How much depends on the level of editing, how experienced the editor is, and what kind of book you’re working on. I’ve seen prices range from $900 to $4000. For the self-published authors, they need to hire a cover artist.
But what if I want to make my own cover?
I’m an artist and a self-published author. Except in rare cases, I don’t recommend making your own. Seriously. Don’t. Most self-made covers are obvious and tacky. I’ve seen some gorgeous self-made covers that are clearly the exception to this rule. As a general rule, though, hire an artist.
Also for the self-published crowd, there’s the need for formatting. It’s possible to format your manuscript without forking out money for it, but it’s a long and often tedious process. There’s software for it, but again there’s often a cost involved. The free software isn’t 100% reliable and some of the paid software is on the expensive side. There’s also the option of paying someone to format your book for you. I don’t know what the cost there is but I know it requires a lot of communication and time.
Regardless of what route you take, you need to market your book, and the cost of that varies as far as time and money goes.
After all this effort and cost, authors often don’t make a whole lot per sale of each book. It doesn’t matter which route you take. There are pros and cons to each as far as royalties go. By pirating a book, you’re not only robbing an author of a sale, but of many potential sales. If you’re so desperate to read a book but not buy a copy, go to the library.
But my local library doesn’t have a copy of (insert book title here).
Oh no, I’m dreadfully sorry to hear that. But you know what? There’s a solution to your problem. One option is to see if any of the on-line library systems have it (Libby, Overdrive, Hoopla, etc). Another is to see if another branch in your area has it and it can be sent to you. If a copy just doesn’t exist in your region, librarians have this awesome power where they can order books through their regional headquarters. Not only does this mean you can get the book and read it, it’s a sale for the author. You can make requests for paperback, hardcover, audiobook, and e-book versions. How do I know this? Again, I’m an avid reader and have made these requests. I’m also the head librarian of my local library and have been buying books for it for many years now. Librarians are amazing and cool people who are generally delighted to get feedback from their patrons on what to add to their collections.
In summary, don’t be a dick by pirating books. Sure, you might think that you’re only costing an author a small amount, but your impact is much larger and hurts the entire industry. Think before you pirate someone’s hard work. There are more ethical solutions than pirating.