Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A New Way To Look At Piracy

Authors bitch and moan about piracy because they’re being so royally violated by publishers and distribution companies. To a traditionally published author, those few extra dollars really matter.

Publishers treat writers with roughly the same respect sweatshops treat their workers.

I’m not talking about editors, mind you, as most authors love their editors. However the publishing houses as a whole, look at authors as if they are a filthy, shameful plague that they unfortunately have to deal with to sell their product.

“But Talitha, publishing houses are a business. They’re designed to make money.”

Yeah, so are sweat shops. Thus the analogy. Saying something is geared toward profit does not make it moral or humane. I could optimise a business where I slowly tortured kittens to death on webcam, but meeting my forecasted profit increase would not justify kitten killing.

Publishing houses make massive profits on their products and pay their authors—who you might remember wrote the damn books—a pittance. Then they act like authors should be grateful for it.

Lots of authors think Amazon is a white knight, galloping in to give authors better profit margins as if they were equals! As if they mattered! However distribution sites, like Amazon, don’t provide the services publishing houses do, like typesetting, cover art and formatting. The author has to do those themselves. Distribution companies just rip off authors the same way they were already screwing publishers.

With authors scrambling to find two dimes to rub together, it’s not surprising to see a lot of hostility toward piraters. However studies show that people who pirate also, on average, SPEND more on books, games, music etc than people who don’t. So if a non pirater spends $10 a week on entertainment, a pirater will spend $15 a week. Probably because they are finding a lot more things they like enough to buy.

Piraters are also spreading the word about their favourite artists and shows, often by giving a download link and sharing the work itself. More lost profits, right?

I suppose. If you’re stupid about it.

How about, instead of saying: “Don’t pirate my work! You’re terrible people! I’m going to starve because you can’t spend $7 on something I spent a year writing!”

We start saying this: “You pirated my stuff. If you like it, maybe you can help me out by ‘paying’ for it. You can do that by writing reviews, giving it five stars on Goodreads and Amazon, visiting my blog and telling your friends how awesome it was.”

Or maybe we can even say this: “My book is for sale for $7 on Amazon, but I only get $2 of that. If you want me, the artist, to get my money while we both FUCK Amazon because they’re turd-heads, here’s my pay pal address. You pirate, send me $2 and we’re all square. You’re a good person and I can afford to keep writing/singing/playing naked banjo in the rain.”

You want a direct link with your readers? Piracy can do that. Upload your own damn books and songs to torrent sites. Ask people to support you and tell them you support them.

Is everyone going to pay? No. Is everyone going to even bother to give you a review? No. Some people are douche-cannons.  That’s okay, some are better than none. Your stuff is going to get pirated—you can’t stop that. You can do damage control. You can even turn it into a positive.

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