Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Week of Firsts

I've been wondering when my charmed publishing life of the last two and a half years would come to an end. The truth is I'd never seen a bad review of my novel, just lots of 4 and 5 star ratings, a preponderance of fulsome praise and the occasional 3 star. I've listened to my fellow authors commiserate about having their books trashed and each time I wondered when my turn would come. Last week it did with the discovery of a 1 star rating and a simple averral that the book was trash. There was nothing else to indicate that the reviewer had even read the story.

My initiation is now complete. I can commiserate with the best of 'em.

And the firsts just kept on coming. I stumbled across my novel on one of those document sharing sites, the ones that seek to 'liberate' and 'democratize' the written word - the written word stolen from someone else, that is. Not only was it sitting there with a whole web page to itself, but it was being sold for $5.99 a pop. Don't know how long it had been gracing the site but it had scored 126 pops when I discovered it. Sweet.

That was bad enough, but it gets worse. On the page there was a comprehensive - and I mean comprehensive - 'preview' of the book. I scrolled down the pages in horror - down, down, down... and I abruptly left the site. I couldn't deal with it.

If you haven't seen your story, your words, the result of years of work just sitting there on the web being sold or shared illegally, you can't imagine how wrenching this discovery can be. I knew the day would come. I didn't know it would feel like that.

I wrote my very first DMCA takedown letter. My agent's legal department also sent one. The web page was removed the very next day.

Just like I knew it was only a matter of time before some 'reviewer' trashed the novel, I know it won't be long before I discover other sites where people are stealing my work in the full public glare of the Internet. That DMCA letter was the first of many in the cards for me. Not only do authors in the brave new digital world have to write, promote and everything else, we also have to hunt pirates and chop off their heads only to have them, Hydra-style, grow ten more for each one we take down.

So - have you scored any firsts lately?



16 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

More reasons to wonder why we go through all the effort. I commisserate with you.

Jen said...

Oh my goodness, that really is shocking - I had no idea that such a thing could even happen. Wish I had some nugget to make things seem better; beheading is simply too good for them.

Sorry it's the turn of rotten firsts. Hopefully your run of 'fab' will return very soon.

Phyllis Bourne said...

Yikes! Sorry about the crappy firsts, Liane.

Both of those would REALLY piss me off too, but try not to let two losers ruin the coolness of being a published author.

Chennette said...

re the liberation of the written word, I've always liked Neil Gaiman's comment that "No, that's pizza...Pizza wants to be free. Concentrate on liberating pizza from evil pizzerias."
http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2002/04/reading-your-blog-on-fan-fiction-you.asp
Sorry to hear about that theft! And how do you liberate by selling the stolen works?
As for that one star review, any discerning person would recognise that as a valueless review. Seriously.

Liane Spicer said...

Charles, I often wonder why we do it. I'll be better from here on in, I think. The first time has to be the worst.

Liane Spicer said...

Jen, not only does it happen, it's snowballing as we speak. I know authors who have done dozens of takedowns, including takedowns of sellers on eBay who sell their (the authors') books on discs. Of course the sellers just pop up again using different names.

I'm thanking goodness those dreaded 'firsts' of mine are out of the way so I don't have to dread them any longer!

Liane Spicer said...

Phyllis, believe it or not I'm already over this. Sharing helps!

Liane Spicer said...

Chennette, thank you so much for the Neil Gaiman link. That pizza analogy is priceless! Stealing is stealing. Period.

Jewel Amethyst said...

I guess I can get upset when I see piracy, or I can join the authors like those at www.achapteramonth.com in finding ways to utilize these same tools used for piracy to legitimately make money from my writing. In this new age of immediate access, I think we authors who want to make it in the business need to rethink our publishing and marketing strategies.

Liane Spicer said...

Jewel, I agree that novel situations demand novel approaches and I applaud achapteramonth.com and others who apply their creativity to making the most of the new publishing environment.

The piracy situation is a problem any way you look at it. Those 126 downloads on the site I found are 126 books I'll never be paid for. As I've said elsewhere, walk out of a store with a book under your arm and you get arrested. Steal an ebook and people want to know what the fuss is about.

Until one of those sites gets sued a la Napster the pirates will continue to flourish - and rob us blind - with impunity.

Cynthia said...

Liane, I commiserate. I know the feeling of seeing one's work elaborately displayed on another website and you are right, the feeling is awful. Glad you managed to set the site taken down.

Liane Spicer said...

Cynthia, the site is still there 'liberating' the written word but the web page with my book is gone.

Awful it is indeed. Thank you for the sympathy - much appreciated!

Debs Carr said...

How horrible for you. Glad you managed to have your work removed from the site.

Anyhow, I loved your book, so raspberries to them!

Liane Spicer said...

Debs, thank you! (There should be an emoticon for raspberries... :)

akalol said...

With pirate music, the musicians can always rely on live performances as a way to earn money but that means they have to work harder. Unfortunately, authors are not that fortunate.

Liane Spicer said...

akalol, no we aren't. Well, we can do live readings but nobody pays for those. :) Which is why we all have day jobs...