When my wife found herself out of work a few years back, she took the opportunity to fulfill a life-long ambition of becoming a novelist.
For hours, days, weeks, months on end, she was squirreled away in her office-cum-spare bedroom working on an eight-book arc of romance novels set on the Caribbean island of St. Barts. The books were great, featuring well-drawn characters in exotic locations who were involved in celebrity, cooking, travel and sex. Lots and lots of sex.
But there’s a glut of writers these days and finding an agent proved to be impossible, so it became a total DIY project. We tried self-publishing through Amazon, but fighting for attention amongst hundreds of thousands of other novels proved discouraging. She did manage to find a small online-only publisher in the UK, but given his size and the competition, there was only so much he could do. The last biannual royalty cheque was for $186.
And then there are the pirates. Even though the ebooks were often priced at less than a dollar each, scumbags from Russia, Ukraine, and other points east stole all the books and made them available for free PDF downloads.
She complained to the publisher, but there was nothing he could do. Yelling at the pirates was useless. Emails to the sites went unanswered, of course. All we can do now is watch people all over the world download her books for free.
All those hours, all that thinking, all that imagining, all that emotion and any rightful revenue streams are being sucked away by book pirates. It’s beyond discouraging. And unlike what we see with the movie, TV and music industries, there’s no one going to bat for authors who are having their work stolen.
If you have even acquired a book this way, stop. It’s immoral and unconscionable that you’d rather steal a book than pay $1.99 (or less!) for a legal copy. And just like those who spend money and time to make art of any sort, your theft is just serving to drive creative people away.
And it’s not just first-time authors that are suffering. I have a good friend who is a well-known horror novelist who once had a book optioned by Tom Cruise’s production company. She’s given up writing entirely and is now doing something else. Too much work, too much grief, too little return. She’s an amazing talent and has fans all over the world but can’t make ends meet as a writer. It’s a sad, depressing loss for the Canadian cultural landscape.
Meanwhile, if there are any agents out there looking for a turnkey series of modern, sexy romance novels to promote (and yes, my wife will happily entertain any movie options), just drop me a line.