Pay for art- or lose it.

Today, authors everywhere breathed a sigh of relief. Travis McCrea, of piracy fame, lost his case in court. He dared authors to sue him if they didn't 'agree' with being pirated, so one did. McCrea cited religious beliefs, DMCA privileges, and just about anything else he could in order to make a mockery of the judicial process, but cooler heads prevailed. Pirating media is a CRIME.

This sets a precedent, which can now be used to slowly fight this insidious underbelly we’ve all faced. Here’s the thing. When I got my first E-Reader, it was a cheapo one from Walmart and only accepted PDF’s. Well, at that time, no site sold those. I found a book group on Facebook that posted PDF book files, claiming they were legitimate copies of that specific file type. I didn’t know any better, so I gleefully filled my new E-Reader. Once I realized they were pirating copies, after reading some of them and realizing the formatting was awful and not publishing standard, I left that group and saved up to buy a Kindle, a ‘real’ E-Reader.

To many, Ebook piracy is a victim-less crime. It’s just a file, you figure, so taking it isn’t hurting anyone. The thing is, you wouldn’t work at your job for free, would you? So why in the world do you expect artists to? During this pandemic, imagine trying to do it without Netflix. Without books. Without movies, TV, music. Without anything created by artists. Get the picture of how important arts are now?

Authors make very little, and spend a whole lot. Even those that are traditionally published no longer get the ‘big’ advances you used to hear about. Those days are long gone. Most are responsible for their own marketing now, as well. Let me break it down for you. For one book, my costs are roughly as follows…

Cover- $125.00

Editing/Proofreading- $150.00

Marketing- $50.00

Swag/Giveaways- $50-$75.00

Proof Copies- $15.00-$20.00

Total- around $400.00

That’s for one book, and my costs are a lot lower than most as I bargain for deals, work with people I know, and we exchange services. Many authors spend roughly $1000 per book, if not more.

In 2019, my taxes show I made a grand total of $108.00 in royalties. I didn’t even make enough to earn back ONE book. Right now, my two newest are up on a pirate site, earning clicks and downloads. The person who posted them is getting ‘paid’ in site tokens which he can cash out as actual funds. His total right now? $766,318.20. It’s not a dollar for dollar cash out, of course, but the point remains- why is a thief getting paid more for my work than I am?

At this point, I haven’t made enough to write and publish the next book. So many authors and artists are in the same predicament. Without sales, we cannot continue working. If you love what your favorite artists do, you MUST support them. Traditionally published authors see their contracts canceled for books when there isn’t enough paid interest, even if pirates are having a feeding frenzy over the books. Piracy doesn’t pay the bills, and publishers don’t accept “Well, it’s doing great on the black market!” as justification for continuing a series that isn’t making them money.

Indie authors have to at least make back their investment, or they can’t pay to publish the next book. If a series isn’t doing well on sales, indie authors have to cut their losses and move on. Next time you think stealing an Ebook is a victim-less crime, think about how much of an escape reading gives you when you need it- and what that’s worth to you. Then pay for the damn book.

A Liliom Press Independent Author
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