I used to crack the joke that you know you’ve arrived when your work appears on the major BitTorrent piracy sites and I’ve seeded things (legally) in the past myself but I had a chuckle this morning to note that a book by one of Scotland’s best journalists, the Daily Record’s Gary Ralston – a book about the founding of Rangers Football Club (link to book’s official, content-rich site) – has turned up on one of them.
I’m not going to name the link for obvious reasons (here’s the legal Amazon link) but you know that digital is becoming more and more a part of everyday life when this happens to Scottish sports authors! And I think – think – Gary is the first Scottish reporter to be torrented/pirated this way! (Don’t know if he’ll see it as a compliment though).
Having said that, how should authors handle their books appearing on piracy sites? Read on for some tips for authors dealing with piracy and some surprising case studies.
If you want, get in touch with the people who run the site(s) and ask them to take it down – most will as they comply when people get in touch. But before you do that, have a think about this – is this costing you sales or taking your work to another market?
For example, I buy books digitally. I’ve read free (legal) stuff online by the likes of Charlie Stross, Peter Watts and others. And very often I’ve then gone and bought other items by these authors – for myself or family/friends. Some authors even report a spike in sales after seeing their material pirated.
Steve Lieber saw sales go up – and he started to give the book away after it had been pirated (and sales still rose) while Paulo Coelho thinks BitTorrent has had a huge positive effect on his 100million sales too.
Totally surprise them by going online and chatting with them. Ask if they enjoyed the book, could they buy a copy for a non-digital savvy relative. Ask people what they would have liked to have seen more of (giving you the chance to do a sequel later). Be nice about it.
Don’t think of it as a sale lost, think of it as a way of getting in front of a new reader, perhaps then following up with a chat or discussion via Facebook/Twitter/blogs. You may lose one sale but you may gain a fan for life who buys the rest of your books.
And if you’re an author, make sure people can reach you digitally – it works for the likes of Charlie Stross, Mark Millar and Warren Ellis as I mentioned recently in my free social media workshop downloads for authors and others. (So Gary, get the Record to fix the RSS stream and update your Twitter account while at it big man!)
And as it’s a book about Rangers, is it to crass to suggest a cry of “We arra Torrents?” (Sorry, football joke)