[LMB] E-book piracy - was "on topic"

Judy R. Johnson jrj at fidalgo.net
Sat Jan 29 18:07:42 GMT 2011

Answers slipped in below, as "29jan11 Reply from JRJ"

-----Original Message-----
From: lois-bujold-bounces at lists.herald.co.uk
[mailto:lois-bujold-bounces at lists.herald.co.uk] On Behalf Of Anke Wehner
Sent: Saturday, January 29, 2011 1:18 AM

> Sounds like you are really convinced piracy would hurt your sales.

Judy R. Johnson :
> Well, I'm old.  I won't have a long list of books and a long time to 
> earn royalties.

Quite apart from the bit where one doesn't start out as a midlist writer...
Aren't those two contradictory scenarios?
Publisher: "Here is your advance for you to write another book for us [based
on the synopsis you sent us]"
Author: *starts writing*
=> debt

Author: *writes book, then submits it*
Publisher (hopefully): Yes, wel'll print that, here's your advance.
=> no debt
I mean, yeah, there's the bit where they might not sell enough books to earn
out the advance, which would make it less likely they'd buy your next book,
but you don't have to pay them back anything.

Am I missing something here?

29jan11 Reply from JRJ
Well, yes you are.  Some publishing houses put it into the contracts that
writers have to pay back unearned advance.  And the books get remaindered
within days sometimes, no time to earn it out, let alone counteract pirates,
if any.  New writers, desperate for affirmation, fall for this, and for
paying for their own promotion expenses.  And, lately, midlist writers are
finding that their sixth or seventh on-spec book can't find a conventional
publisher, or it is refused and the advance taken back.

An online-friend of mine self-published two books.
One earned him $30 over 4 years.
The other earned him $65 over 2 years.

Biggest problem with self-publishing seems to be to get publicity.
Going with a traditional publisher means your book gets into bookshops,
shows up on the publisher's website...

29jan11 Reply from JRJ
Well, there ain't no money out there; most everybody's buying bigger TVs and
keeping up with gadget fads, expensively.  I do agree that having your book
on a publisher's website might be helpful in getting to the remaining
readers, but not so much now when a websearch brings up things on Amazon
(here's hoping there will be meaningful competitors soon).  I don't expect
to make big money, in fact will probably lose some or a lot even if I don't
count my time, but what I do make I don't want to share just so I can claim
that I am conventionally published.  (Yes, yes - first finish the darn

Back to piracy: When nobody knows you, ...snip...

IF your book got pirated, it might show up in someone's search ...snip...

Besides, being relaxed about DRM and such is good publicity for an author.

29jan11 Reply from JRJ
I try not to buy anything with DRM, but I'm not fanatical about it.
Certainly wouldn't pay to put it on my own work.  (Have I mentioned there
isn't enough money in the first place?)

On the other hand, if I remember the name of that one self-published author
who on the mobileread forum argues that ebook readers should have
fingerprint scanners and identification with such should be required to open
an ebook file, I certainly won't read any of that guy's books. ;)

29jan11 Reply from JRJ
Well, he's looking for a tech fix but being ham-handed about it.  I know
many people who resent his type of solution and fear any control or
restriction of the internet even if they don't care about piracy; the
present use of popular technology to end-run tyranny worldwide makes their
point.  As I write, CNN is calling it "Social Media."

Anyway, pirate ebook readers would probably appear, or a "can-opener" chip
or app to do the trick.  It wouldn't work unless it were darn near universal
and readers became resigned to it.  Figure I won't live that long.  Unless
worldwide government fiat imposes some such and can enforce it, my best bet
is to flog my work (when and if) within the SF community - cons and blogs
and such - and publish in pay-as-you-go segments on my own website, linking
to Amazon and its competitors.   Some already-established midlist writers
have had some success with this, and I'm hoping the method will become
popular enough so even a newbie has a chance.

> But being in creative control of my writing hobby is a hoot.

Yes. :)

What kind of book are you working on?

29jan11 Reply from JRJ
Mundane SF set in the Solar System.  Hoping to get my website revised soon
and direct people to it to see the advance work on technical design of the
asteroid habitats and space ships (already made it an Open Universe, if
anybody cares).  ...Advance peer review.  And fun in itself - it's a hobby,

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