I originally wrote this post on Monday. I’ve been considering whether or not to post it since, because I share some pretty detailed information about my income as a writer. After making sure I’ve had time to cool down and stop seething from Monday, I’ve decided that I do want to share this with people. I think this is something that the ebook reading community should know.
Until Monday, March 2nd, 2015, I thought I was done talking about the whole ebook piracy “thing” on the internet. Some people, usually the rational, reasonable ones, understand why ebook piracy is a bad thing and don’t need any convincing why people shouldn’t. One the other side of the coin, you’ve got those people who are going to come up with reasons to justify ebook piracy, because they are the kind of people who want to get something for free. Ultimately, getting into discussions about it online aren’t really worth the time and emotional energy, and so I’d given up on participating in discussions about it online…
Monday afternoon, my editor sent me a couple links from an ebook piracy site. The site had a number of my books available for free download. More than that, each book listed has the total number of downloads it has gotten. Having seen how much potential income I’m losing from ONE piracy site, I feel the need to speak up about it.
Now, before I get ranting, I understand that some writers don’t have a problem with the whole piracy thing. Two of the very vocal ones are Neil Gaiman and Hugh Howey. I’ve met both Neil and Hugh. They are nice guys. Love chatting with them. Love their books. Wish they would stop talking about how much of a benefit getting books for free can be, because some of us don’t have thousands and thousands of book sales to help counteract the amount of downloads of our books people are helping themselves to on piracy sites.
Okay, one of the reasons I waited to days to post this is because I’m going to disclose some personal information about my income from book sales. I have craptastic online sales. Like abysmal sales. I make most of my money from book sales at my storytelling show and at live appearances such as science fiction and comic conventions. Just so we have an idea about how craptastic I’m talking, let’s take a look at my income from ebooks from amazon for 2014, shall we.
So, for the sake of this post, I’m not going to separate it by book, and I’m only going to count sales from Amazon. First, I don’t want to do all the work of sifting through my records to calculate income by individual book. Second, I think limiting this to one retailer and combining income from all my books together will better illustrate the disparity between my ebook book sales and the damage from ebook piracy.
Counting all my books sold through Amazon’s Kindle Store in the U.S. for 2014, I made a grand total of… $1404.51. I know that I said my sales were abyssal, and that’s more than a lot of self-published authors make, but considering that sometimes I make close to that in print book sales some weekends at my live appearances. I also tend to do two to three weekend events a month from January to November. Aside from my storytelling show, I have no other source of income. So, taking all that into account, my online sales aren’t too great. As, as we get into the numbers of ebooks people have illegally downloaded, please remember this is from ALL of my ebooks sold on Amazon during 2014. Also, by the end of the 2014, I had eleven ebooks available.
Now that we have the numbers Let’s take a gander at the numbers of downloads from this piracy cite, by book and by how much potential income I’d lost .
BOOK DOWNLOADS ROYALTY TOTAL
TEARS OF RAGE #1 759 $2.75 $2087.25
TEARS OF RAGE #2 573 $3.44 $1971.12
TEARS OF RAGE #3 396 $4.13 $1635.48
TEARS OF RAGE #4 337 $4.13 $1391.81
DEAD WEIGHT #1 811 $2.06 $1670.66
DEAD WEIGHT #2 959 $2.06 $1975.54
HALLOWEEN JACK #1 695 $2.06 $1431.70
DRAGON FLUTE #1 465 $0.35 $162.75
DRAGON FLUTE #2 587 $2.06 $1209.22
So..putting it all together…unless my math is off… that’s… $13,535.53 or 9.6 times what I bring in in a YEAR from Amazon.
Wow… Just… Wow…
Please don’t try to tell me about how wouldn’t some, or even most, of those downloads if people had had to pay for them. Don’t talk to me about exposure, because I doubt I’m going to get any from these downloads, because I really don’t think it works that way. You’ll have a hard time convincing me that people who illegally download books are going to suddenly start singing an author’s praises after the fact. Don’t talk to me about how those people probably wouldn’t have bought the book anyway. Cool. Fine. Not every book is for every reader. If you’re not going to put down money for an author’s hard word, don’t read their books. That’s how this whole thing works. Writers provide a product. If someone is interested in owning the product, then pay the asking price set by the writer or publisher.
I know some of you might try to point out that I’m comparing these numbers for total downloads against only may earnings from 2014. Here’s the thing: The two books with the most downloads got published this year. Also. between the time my editor sent me the link and when I started to write this article, I went to put my daughter to down for a nap. In the time it took me to get her to sleep, each of my books had several HUNDRED more downloads than before I tucked her in.That took less than an hour, which leaves me to believe my books haven’t been up there terribly long. Also, and I’m going to put this in its own line:
These number are from one, that’s right ONE, pirate site. I don’t want to think about how many other copies of my books are floating around from other piracy sites out there.
So… there you have it. The affect one piracy site has on one little indie author trying to make a living in the wide world of publishing. I can’t imagine how many hundreds of thousands of dollars a year piracy sites are costing writers in income every year. My mind boggles.
For those of you out there who actually purchased writers’ books, thank you for helping us live our dreams. If you care about writers’ ability to continue writing, please help support writers by not pirating our work. If you have pirated books in the past, please stop, and maybe you might consider retroactively purchasing the books you downloaded from a legitimate ebook retailer.
If you have pirated books, have read this, and still plan to pirate books in the future, I would like to ask one small favor of you: Please take your preferred ebook reading device (Kindle, Nook, iPad, phone, whatevs), place that device on a hard, flat surface, take a solid object (hammer, rock, iron, hachet, whatevs) in your dominant hand, then proceed to bludgeon your preferred reading device with that solid object until it is no longer recognizable as your preferred reading device. Have a nice day.