November 14th, 2008


Heartsick, depressed, and PO'd as hell.

Brace for incoming kvetching. I don't have the energy to rant. I'm too tired and depressed.race

I've lost a lot of writing time in the last few days.

Blame e-piracy.

Yar, ahoy thar, me hearty, here's some free books to download, enjoy!

Yep, nothing like a free e-book, right?

Only it is not free.

I was sent notice that ALL my novels had been put up on some mega-douchbag's website for free downloading.  My books and those of 100s of other writers were up.

How this asshat thought he could get away with it for long is a mystery. Why he did it is a bigger mystery, 'cause I didn't see him getting any income for it.  In the Elrod-verse "just because" is never a good excuse.

I notified my editors. One told me she'd already gotten mails from 10 other writers concerning that site.

There are other sites. I went to several, and put in the formal request to each that my books were up in violation of the Digital Media Copyright Act, please take them down, thank you. The hosts don't make it easy, either.  I'm the only one who can legally do this, since I'm the copyright holder.

It's like playing Whack-a-Mole--take one down and more pop up. It eats my time.  I'd rather be writing, dammit.

SFWA got involved, and someone on the host server yanked the jerk's website down as it was in violation of their TOS, not to mention the DMCA.

This was just one moron offering books he neither owns nor has a right to give away. He has friends. They proudly proclaim themselves to be e-pirates. Yar.

Sounds sexy, adventurous, fun--but let's remember that the old time pirates were only badly dressed, rather smelly thieves, just as scummy as any skank shoplifter taking a five-finger discount from a store. Nothing fun about 'em, and yes, it IS a crime.

They can holler and scream all they like about how cool it is to share information freely, but down and dirty--they are thieves pimping to other thieves. Downloading a book without paying for it is theft.

Ironically, fans are stealing from the very writers they profess to love so much.

Guess what--that kind of thing can wreck a career. Specifically, MINE.

Here's what happens when people download books illegally instead of (gasp) buying a download from Amazon or B&N or even getting a temporary download via the public library.

An illegal download is not recorded as a sale for P.N. Elrod. The publisher's bean-counters notice this when sales of my books don't happen.  "Hey, Elrod's books aren't moving, we better not buy new ones from her. Call her editor, get those titles remaindered, and cut that deadbeat loose."

(For those who have trouble finding my books, it is because slow sales sent them out of print and into the remainder pile. They're still to be found on Amazon and in used stores, I don't have a problem with any of that. I don't have a problem with you loaning books to each other. As some point in its life it was bought and the sale was counted.)

But a lot of mid-list writers like me are getting the professional chop due to low sales. I've been afraid myself. I am STILL afraid.  My next book could be rejected, not because it's a bad book, but because my sales figures aren't up to snuff.

I worried that Dark Road Rising would not be bought by Ace because my sales haven't been that hot.  It was a close thing. Next time it might not happen.

Bean-counters don't care about how good a writer might be or how much you may love a certain writer's books--they only care about the sales. No sales = no writer.

A free download also means no royalty for me.  It's only a few cents, though. I'm a rich and famous writer, I won't miss it; it can't really hurt me, right?


I am hardly famous and absolutely NOT rich. I have to struggle to meet my bills same as anyone. I work two jobs to just barely keep up with monthly living expenses. I have no health insurance, no savings, no retirement plan, forget vacations, and I pray every night that I and my dogs don't get sick. I can't afford it.

My writing keeps me sane, but it does not pay well. I write slow, another strike against me.

I'm not whining, I chose this life, and I love it.

But free downloads means no royalty check, and rather than lose my house I have to consider looking for full-time work again. (Yeah, the corporate world is headhunting for middle-aged, dumpy-looking untrained women with so-so word-processing skills.)  Full-time work means I won't have time or energy to write.  (Been there, tried that, crashed and burned.)

It's like voting--every sale counts. I need them ALL, because my sales are marginal in a highly competitive market.

One of my friends--who is not rich, but sells more books than I (she has more in print) estimates that free downloads (she counted them based on info from several sites) have lost her 8,000.00 in royalties from those sales, and trust me, she needs the money.

I wish I made that much in royalties!  I don't.  My last royalty check (representing a year's worth of sales for a title) was 233.75.  I was glad to get it!

I'm sure I will hear from defenders of illegal downloading, but don't bother posting here. I have no sympathy for thieves.

Yeah-yeah, I GET that some will sample the book, then go buy a copy, I'm delighted and sincerely grateful.  I GET that some just want a free copy to carry in their e-reader and they have the original book at home.  There are gray areas, but I can't afford 'em.

Right now my current nemesis is a pea-brained asshat who has put all 11 books of the Vampire Files up on half a dozen sites. I spent half a day sending notice to them all, and the other half feeling like hammered whale shit because it's just going to get worse tomorrow.

Mr. E-pirate --you're a thief and a pimp, and I hate you. Really, I do. I worked hard to write and sell those words. You have no right to steal them and offer them to other thieves.

I have alerts in place now, so when my books pop up for a free download I can immediately inform the host server that they're in violation of their TOS and the DMCA--MY copyright.

Maybe you're a fan of my words and just want to share the joy, but you make me sick. You do. I'm living on aspirin and Maalox. There's a human being on the other end of this who never did you any harm, so what's your problem? You can stop now. I'd take it as a personal favor if you would.

If you like my books so much, then blog about them instead. Spread the word, not the piracy.

rachelcaine   --who has a lot more energy than I do about this topic has blogged about it at length. Check it out.

You readers who actually buy my books?

I love you.  Really.

I love you LOTS. Hugs and kisses from a tired and discouraged lady.

Thank you for buying my words. I know you don't have to, but you did, and I'm grateful.

Thank you.