YO, HO, HO AND A BOTTLE OF TORRENT (or my contribution to International Please Don’t Pirate My Book DaY)

The other day, hell yesterday, the abominable snowman that is Chuck Wendig did a kick ass post on internet piracy. He ask for authors to join in the discussion and post up a blog with their thoughts. Here’s mine:

Okay I’ll admit it. I’ve pirated a lot of stuff in my day. Clicked it, downloaded it, thought nothing of it.  Music, tv shows, movies, damn near nothing was safe from my greedy grasp.

I had a lot of reasons, some where that ti didn’t matter, some were that stuff was unavailable in a way that would benefit the artist (I mean, did Muddy Waters really care that I downloaded his performance in London? I mean, being dead and all he probably didn’t care)

I heard a lot of talk from pirates about the fan aspect. The “if I try it and I like it then it helps get the word out.”

Well that works for music but it does almost nothing for an author.

I’ve worked in the music industry in clubs and owning a tiny (and I mean freaking tiny) record label with my best friend Kevin in the 90’s.

HERE is a link to one of the albums we put out.

And now I’m an author.

Here’s the gig: If you download a band’s record (one released through a label, not independant) then often they don’t care. The reason for this is that the band made their money on the record already. They got an advance which is theirs. Yes it goes to the recording of the album but if they get 10 grand and spend 2 then they pocket the rest.

This advance is recouped by the record label keeping the royalties earned from sales.

So far, this is the same way it is in the publishing industry.

But that shit is about to change.

Now the band has their record out. It’s up on Itunes, Amazon, on the shelves of the few Best Buys out there. If they are big enough they go in Walmart and all the other places CD’s still live. The band then books a tour, hit the road, and play gigs. Sometimes they get paid for the gig, sometimes not, but while they are out there they are hawking t-shirts and other merchandise.

This is where a band makes a living.

They get in front of fans, even the fans who pirated their album, and then sell them the two things that CANNOT be pirated, a live performance and a piece of merchandise.

Now remember how I said that this was just like publishing? Well, here’s where it ain’t.

An author gets their book out. It goes live on Amazon, B&N, and on bookshelves across the world. The author hits the road promoting the book. They work conventions and do book signings and speak. They bust their ass to entertain the fans who come, even the ones who pirated their book.


If you go see an author live at a convention or a signing then they are NOT getting paid for that. It is coming out of their pocket. It COSTS them money to be where you are, even if they are local.

So now you know. Buy the book. It’s the only real way that supports an author. The only way that matters.

And don’t pull the “I want to try it to see if I like it first” crap. There isn’t a book out there that you can’t read a preview for free. If you pirate it and it doesn’t blow your socks off then you won’t pay for it.

But you like books. You like writers. Put the money on the table.

We all appreciate it.



  1. The past LibertyCon I sat in on a panel about self-publishing, and the issue of pirating and plagiarism popped up. One of the panelist said he was ecstatic that his book popped up on the torrent sites. To him, that meant his book had gained some traction. That there was even an audience *willing* to pirate it.

    Which then brings me to a point I often think about. Can a pirate be turned into a fan? Who then buys the books later? Or what are the chances of them turning a friend onto your series/work? Obviously these are the big question marks, as we have no way of tracking them.

    For my money, I hope to see my work on the torrent sites per the reason above. Are those people pirating it lost sales? Probably not. I assume they had no intention of buying it anyway. Instead I like to think of it as a measure of success 🙂

  2. So true. You made points I haven’t thought of. I’ve never pirated a book, but now I know how to argue against someone who might use the music industry as an example of how piracy works for the artist. You’re right. A book the one shot an author has to make some coin, everything else comes out of his/her pocket to promote his/her self. Great post, James.

  3. Would never pirate a book and rob an author of their hard earned money. Really, is $10 or so too much to spend for hours of entertainment?

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