Listen, Captain Jack Sparrow. We need to talk.

 In the days immediately following Wild One‘s release, I did what I imagine many people with newly released books do: relentlessly Googled myself. I told myself I would not do this thing. That doing the thing would only lead to my sobs and pain. But of course I still did it because I’m a glutton for punishment and might be a little bit of a masochist and honestly, I just couldn’t resist.

And, as predicted, I was immediately met with sites where my book was illegally uploaded.
Now, I’m not going to lie. There was a part of me that was flattered. Really flattered. Because, to me, books are a drug and there was something kinda romantic about the idea that people considered something I’d written to be good enough to swap in back alleys. But then I saw a few sites where it showed how many times my book had been downloaded and one of those sites, just one, had nearly a thousand downloads.
Man. That– that sat kinda funny. That’s — that’s a lot of money.

I honestly, hand to God, didn’t do this for the money. I never set out to write a book with the intentions of becoming a millionaire. Which, of course, is a very, very good thing, since that rarely happens. But now my book is out there, and there are more following, of course I’d like to make money. It’s a very cool thing (I feel like the Eleventh Doctor every time I say that, for the record. “BOOKS ARE COOL. MAKING MONEY FOR WRITING BOOKS IS COOL.”) to be able to say, “Yeah, I write for a living” and that mean I get paid for my words. Money isn’t everything to me, it factors in very low on my scale, but it’s nice, and, you know, I do like having it. Who doesn’t? Everyone wants to be paid when they do work. And writing a book, while insanely fun, is work. So, yeah, doing the quick math in my head, those thousand downloads, that loss of my cut for a thousand books, sat in my gut weird.

I’m talking to those of you who do download books illegally now, okay? Directly to you. We’re gonna wave the others away and huddle here together for just a minute, cool? I don’t think I need to say piracy is stealing and stealing is wrong. You know that, right? Of course you do. We all do. So I won’t preach at you or scold you for it. I won’t even tell you about how I have a special needs child and while we were blessed with wonderful insurance coverage, there are still many things we have to pay for out of pocket. I won’t even cluck my tongue and say, look, y’all, $2.51 is pretty damn cheap. I won’t say or do any of these things because you know and also I’m mostly a nobody on the other side of this screen and, hey, maybe you’re on a budget and $2.51 isn’t that cheap. It’s a risk. I’m a newbie and you might hate my words. You might decide you hate me. That would suck, I know. To be out that money and have no kind of return on your investment. Sure, I’m not getting a return on my investment, all that time and effort I put into writing this book you’re reading for free, but, really, you and yours vs. me and mine? I get it. I do. Yours comes first. We’re all kinda built that way, aren’t we? We worry about ours because if we don’t, who will? So I sympathize and to a degree, I even understand.

And, hey. They call it piracy for shit’s sake. Who doesn’t want to be a pirate, amirite?
But while I may nod and say, grudgingly, “okay, yeah, I see where you’re coming from,” other authors don’t. With good reason. Because, at the end of the day, while you’re looking out for yours, you’re stealing from ours. It’s not some massive corporation who isn’t going to miss it. You’re stealing from the writers who agonize over every single word you’re reading and go without sleep to hit those deadlines to put it in your hands as soon as possible. Whose kids might need corrective shoes or sensory tools they have to pay for out of pocket (wait, I said I wouldn’t do that, didn’t I?) and, really, $2.51 is not that bad.
But listen, while I’m not necessarily fussing at you right now, maybe do a girl a favor? Next time you’re thinking about hitting download on a book from one of these pirate sites, maybe stop. Maybe think. Ask yourself, can I afford this? Is it going to break the bank? There are other, legal, ways to get your hands on that book if your answer is yes. Ask around. See if a friend has it you can borrow. Amazon does lending, you know. Or libraries. You know many, many libraries have ebook lending now. You know these things, right? I mean, sure you do. We all do.
Or, I don’t know, if you do reviews, try getting a hold of me. I’m all over the web. I even have a contact form, to make it super easy for you. Maybe we can work something out, yeah? You can do that with any author, you know. Try getting a hold of them. They might direct you elsewhere. They might flat out say no. But that’s the worse they can say. And I guarantee many, many of them would much rather give you a book in exchange for a review than for you to pirate it.
And, hey, even if we can’t work something out, I bet I could at least point you in the direction of dirt cheap sales.
So, there it is. My first, inevitable, post on piracy. It’ll probably be my last. I hope you’ll forgive me for it. I think we all have to talk about it at some point.
One last thing before I go. If you do illegally download a book, which you absolutely shouldn’t, seriously, that’s really, really bad, at least review said book. You know what? Go ahead and throw on an extra star too. It’s the least you can do, right? Even if you absolutely hated the book. Throw an extra star on there anyway. You don’t have to say why. I won’t tell. But it’s a nice gesture for doing a kinda awful thing.
However, if you’re one of those ones that upload the books for the masses to get for free?

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