I'm not one to use the internet to rant overly much. I make snide, snarky, and sarcastic comments on Facebook and Twitter, but I tend to leave my ranting to my real life interactions with people. I've never considered exactly why. Perhaps it's because I prefer to see the expressions on people's faces when I go fully into "Harlan Ellison Mode" because so few people are as candid as I am about so many things. On the other side of the coin, maybe it's because so many other people seem to use the interwebz as a perpetual rant machine that makes me avoid this habit. Or, both of the above.
That being said...
Over the last few months, I've been involved in several discussion concerning ebook piracy. I haven't started any of these discussions, but I have piped up when I've seen people express the opinion that writers shouldn't care so much about it. Until now, I've not felt the need to bring the topic up...
This last weekend I attended the San Jose Fantasy Festival. I had a great time. Did my shows, hung out with fellow writers, sold and signed some books. Great time. Then I came home and did an inventory. Over the course of the weekend, three of my 1st editions of First Chosen went walkabout. I will not speculate on exactly who it was that helped themselves to these irreplaceable copies of my first print novel. Rather, I will use this to discuss what eBook piracy actually is.
Contrary too what some people in several Facebook discussions believe, file sharing is not sharing; it is theft. While I'm upset that my very rare first editions are gone, that's not really what has me fuming. (The value of those 1st editions at this point is all in my mind, and based on a dream that one day, I'll be big enough that those books actually become valuable outside of my own ego.) I'm not even really upset that I'm out the printing cost for those volumes. I've spent the better part of ten years working on the Tears of Rage story in it's current form. And now someone got their grubby little hands on it for free.
At this point, those paying close attention might ask, "But Mr. Gallowglas, didn't you just have a promotion where you were giving away free copies of several of your books leading up to the Fantasy Festival?"
And that's correct. I did. Just as many publishers offer free copies of books at conventions, signings, events, etc. I've given away free copies of all my books. I will give away copies of all my books in the future. I gave away print copies of Halloween Jack and the Devil's Gate at my shows this weekend. The point is, those giveaways are on my terms, my choice. I did not volunteer those three copies, just like I don't volunteer to give away any of my books that people might steal via some file "sharing" site. I do not harbor the illusion that I'm that big yet; however, I number some writers who are that big among my close friends and we've had conversations about this among ourselves and with readers.
Here's the deal: Writing is hard work. Really hard work. It's even hard to write will over the course of sixty thousand, eighty thousand, several hundred thousand words. Those of us who can do that and keep readers coming back should be paid for our ability to entertain. For the most part, if we calculate all the time we put into rough drafts, learning our craft to the point where our writing is publishable, we make pennies on the hour once we actually start publishing and getting paid for our work. Fiction writing is one of the few professions where you don't get paid training. We writers slog through on a dream, a labor of love, the hope that one day we'll be able to pay ourselves back for all the hours and hours we've neglected other parts of our life.
Theft is theft, no matter what form it comes in. Even though I'm pretty sure it's unlikely that the individual(s) enjoying First Chosen and/or any other stolen book reads this blog, I'd like to put this little nugget out into the universe: I hope that any book that you desperately needed so bad that you felt so compelled to take my work without any form of compensation has something to offer you, that you need some of the jewel lights within so badly that you need to steal it. When I started this post, I thought by this point I would have some choice words for the type of individual that engages in epiracy, but now I find I have only pity.
To anyone who helped themselves to my 1st editions of First Chosen, because I do have a dream that they will become rare collectors' items someday. I hope you are a book lover and you find yourself in a special place in Hell where you're in a room with only books you haven't read, and every time you get halfway through a book, the book bursts into flames, so you'll never be able to get to the end. Have a nice day.
"In these pages many mysteries are hinted at.
What if you come to understand one of them?"
"Words let water from an unseen, infinite ocean
Come into this place as energy for the dying and even the dead."
"Bored onlookers, but with such Light in our eyes!
As we read this book, the jewel-lights intensify."