Authors are always terrified of their work being “stolen”. They think that somehow they are losing a sale because someone may have read their work without paying the paltry few dollars for the privilege. I happen to disagree.
I see piracy as the best free marketing plan EVER! I’m not some big shot who can command millions of people to line up in wait for the release of my next book. I’m just an author – a rather average one – like so many other authors out in this new age of digital books. I write stories that grab people and shake them, refusing to let go until they have read the entire series. I pride myself on books that almost force the reader to get the next and spend nights laying in bed wondering what is happening to the characters. This is my forte. Marketing? Not so much.
So when someone wants to recommend my book to a friend? That’s golden. It’s the best way to spread my “brand”. It’s also how I found every author I love. I can honestly say that I didn’t buy my first Harry Potter book. Nope, I was loaned it by a friend. I didn’t buy my first Anne McCaffrey book, I was allowed to read my mother’s copy. I didn’t buy my first Lewis Carrol book. I picked it up at the library.
And then I became addicted.
I found authors to love based on a single “free” copy of a book. I’ve found others through less “acceptable” means. One of my current favorites, Anne Bishop, is such an example. I was researching something for one of my books and stumbled upon one of those links. Being Captain Oblivious, I clicked it, and began reading this story on the web. It was an amazing tale of our world – but in an alternate timeline where things were much more magical. The characters, the setting, and everything sucked me in! So, I bought the first three books and began waiting for the rest of the series to be finished.
Yes, I found my most recent preferred author from a pirated book. The horrors! Now, keep in mind that I had no idea she existed otherwise, and hence wouldn’t have bought any of her books. That “free to read online” copy of her book sold me on four novels, and I plan to read her other series as well.
So now, every time I have to decide whether to click the DRM box or not, I don’t. If someone is too poor to afford my book, then let them read it however they can. If they love it, maybe they will tell a friend. If enough people do that, maybe more people will read. The libraries are closing. The ability for people to read for free is vanishing. I want to make sure it never truly disappears. To me, that means more than a couple of dollars from people who wouldn’t have bought my book anyway.
And maybe, now that they know I exist, they’ll buy the next one.