After reading Maggie Stiefvater’s openly honest essay about the piracy of her Raven Cycle books I have some thoughts. First, GO READ HER EXPERIENCE.
Second, for those wondering where book four of Heroes and Villains is or a new Sam Rose story, the answer is: there probably won’t be one because of this. There aren’t enough sales on H&V to make it worth my time to go back to the villains. The books I have in the series are my most-pirated work.
When EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE was first released I found it downloaded over 800 times from a pirate website. Eight hundred, on my first novella… the average book sells less than 1000 copies, and in the first month EVFiL was downloaded 800 times.
Heroes and Villains originally published with Breathless Press. They closed because of piracy. Because more of their ebooks wound up on pirate sites than going to paid readers. Fans were mad when promised books were taken now or a series never finished. But a majority of those fans hadn’t bought the books. They’d stolen them. And they were demanding more free work.
The Time & Shadows series saw a similar trend to Maggie’s series. The books sold well enough for the niche they were in. I didn’t have the marketing Maggie does, and I wasn’t writing YA, but I see the same trend of fewer ebook sales and more print sales. And it’s for the same reason. No matter what I do I can’t get all the pirate copies of my books offline.
Which means that instead of writing another book, I’m spending my time looking for a second job. Instead of writing another book in a series fans love, I’m trying to convince a publisher that despite past numbers my books can sell. The thing is… publishers don’t look at pirated books. They aren’t sales. A pirated book won’t pay the rent. A pirated book won’t cover the cost of cover art. A pirated book isn’t freed advertising or a null sale from someone who would never buy the book anyway.
A pirated book is a lost sale.
A pirated book is a lost year of writing.
A pirated book is a lost order from the library.
A pirated book is a death sentence for small presses, midlist authors, and everyone else trying to get by.
For every author, making the next book – writing, editing, publishing – all depends on having the current book sell. Sales mean money for rent, groceries, and bills. Sales mean visibility for the next book. Sales mean a career doing what we love.
If you want books from your favorite authors: BUY BOOKS.