Avast! Ye Pirates! (Marketing Series #6)

Hello everyone! During my last post in this marketing series, I talked about Amazon Central and how important it is to set up your profile. At some point, I’ll continue the conversation about Amazon and how reviews impact sales ranks. It’s an interesting conversation. But today, I’m thinking about pirates.

Sadly, not the sexy kind.

Photo credit:  http://darkrising.co.uk

No, I’m talking about the type of piracy that involves torrent sites and exposure to some seriously nasty computer STDs.

What in the world does that have to do with marketing? It’s simple. Piracy has a HUGE negative impact on book sales. To that end, I wanted to talk about things authors can do pro-actively to discourage piracy.piracy-is-theft-typewriter

When facing down the monolithic wave that is piracy, it can feel a bit like pissing in the wind. Nonetheless, I encourage you to do what you can and focus on those things. Stay positive. If authors and other creators of intellectual property give up, we might as well hand them the keys to the cupboard and walk away.

With that in mind, here are some tips.

  1. Set up a Google alert for your author name, as well as for your book titles. If you don’t know how to do that, Google would love to teach you. Learn HERE. By doing this, you will receive an email notification each time you or your books are mentioned online. Okay, not every time. But everytime a Google bot comes across your name, you’ll be notified. The bot is smart and screens out stuff like Facebook entries and Amazon reviews. But it does pick up blog posts, torrent sites, etc.
  2. Challenge the pirates. Don’t just say, “It sucks, but there’s nothing I can do.” Take the time to fill out the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) form or send a take down notice. Each torrent site will have their own instructions for how to do this. Some will respond to a standard boilerplate take down notice. Others will have a specific format. Others still will have a form that you fill out and submit on their website. Whatever the instructions, follow them to the letter. Some sites are very particular and will ignore any notice that doesn’t follow their exact format.piracy
  3. Be charitable and kind. Here’s the truth, folks, not everyone can afford to buy books. Or, sometimes folks can afford to buy them, and other times they can’t. If you’re in touch with your readers, let them know that you are sympathetic. Sponsor some regular giveaways. Heck, I even know folks who will send you a copy of their books for free if you are having a hard time. All you have to do is ask. (Side note: We here at Women and Words enjoy setting up these types of giveaways and do so routinely. If you know someone in need, click on the “Contact” button up there and drop us a line.)
  4. Put some freebies up on your site. This gives folks a way to taste your writing, so to speak. Plus, it builds good will and fosters a strong community. We also have a list here of authors who offer freebies. See the tab at the top that says “Free Reads”? Click that. If you are an author who already does this, make sure you’re info is on our list. If you are a reader, check it out. We update the info periodically.ebook-piracy-300x4111
  5. Get your books into your local library. Libraries, just like bookstores, like to feature local authors. Go in. Talk to the librarian. Take your book(s) with you. It may be as simple as leaving a book right then, or there may be a specific process you must follow. I’m sorry to say that there is no universal way to do this. The procedure varies by library, but after you’ve done it once, you’ll be a pro. Also, don’t forget that libraries now include collections of e-books. Several of mine are available as e-book via the Seattle library. Talk to the acquisitions librarian. Figure out how to put your book(s) in their collection in multiple formats. After you do all this, let folks know about it. Include the info on your website.
  6. Don’t forget about your local LGBTQIA center. Most have a queer lending library and would LOVE to add your book to the collection. Same goes for the LGBTQIA club at your local university.

As with most areas of life, a little bit of knowledge can help make something seem not quite so big. That’s definitely the case with book pirates. If you have any questions about how you can pro-actively and positively approach piracy, drop a comment in the space below. I’ll do my very best to find the answer for you.

Until next time…



  1. Jove, I must admit that marketing series leave me in cold sweats, for the most part, but I thoroughly enjoyed this post (in my own weird and twisted way.) When I saw the topic was pirating, I knew I had to read it because I know so little about how to address the problem even though my impulse is to ignore the entire issue. You did a fabulous job. I came away feeling informed and empowered, not overwhelmed or dejected at all. Thank you for your thoughtful and encouraging look at something authors can do. I especially like the focus on creating community and remembering libraries and community centers at the end. Thank you again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ona,

      I’m sorry that the marketing stuff makes you want to run away. Boo. But I’m glad you were able to stick around for this one! Yay for being informed and empowered. If you ever have questions about marketing in general, feel free to drop me a line. If I know the answer, I will share. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve lost thousands of dollars to piracy and unfortunately, sometimes it’s really freaking difficult to get a pirate site to take your stuff down because they require absolutely ridiculous things to do it. Some won’t even look at your letter if it doesn’t come from an email address that is tied directly to a website. E.G. “author@author.com”. They won’t accept hotmail, gmail, or yahoo accounts. Which is a major pain in the ass for me, because I use gmail. Others require very specific wording, and I’m guessing that the harder they make it to file a claim, chances are you’ll just give up and go away.

    One of the other options authors can engage in is to hire an anti-piracy watchdog to file claims for you. Mark Monitor (part of Thomson Reuters) offers these services. Muso is another. This option can be a bit pricey, depending on the services, but having someone else monitor the web and file the takedowns for your titles takes a huge burden off you, the author.

    I also strongly recommend that you file copyrights on your works (through the Library of Congress). That, too, is a pain in the ass and it’ll run you about $45 a pop, if you do it online. However, keep in mind you’ll need to file copyright on e-formats AND print, if you have both. And when you file on a print book, you must mail copies of the print book to the LOC. I recommend you file for copyrights because it provides an actual record of that intellectual property, should an issue arise. It’s basically insurance, and I tend to err on the side of insurance.

    For more info on filing for copyright, see HERE and HERE.

    Here’s the direct link to the LOC online copyright filing tutorial. You’ll need to create an account at the LOC, which isn’t hard.

    Filing copyright isn’t going to stop pirates. But having a paper trail with the LOC sure lends credence to any claims you might have in some matters. So that’s why I recommend it. And filing copyright is a tax write-off. 😀


    Liked by 2 people

  3. An ongoing issue I have is telling the difference between a real torrent site that has a copy of the book and the rampantly huge number of sites that are merely pointers or scams. They don’t have the book and never did. Google doesn’t know the difference and it is a lot to wade through.

    Love the focus on positive ways to make your books free, especially the library. There is almost no lesfic in Overdrive, for example, and maybe if enough readers and authors ask their locals to order the access it will let us point people to a very easy way to read for free if you’ll practice a little patience.

    All that said, the most difficult part isn’t the supply, it’s the demand. Much of the piracy demand isn’t about finances, it’s about entitlement. Too many people believes that movies, games and books become free when you buy a device and an Internet connection. End of story. They don’t have to pay so they don’t. There’s not much we can do to change the mind of someone who believes that. /rant

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed about the torrent versus sites pointing to torrent sites. Not only will they not take down the file (because they can’t), they won’t remove the link to it either. It’s enormously frustrating. But I’m a big believer that a person should focus on what she can change and let the rest go. And the only thing I can change with torrent sites, potentially, is whether or not I respond. So, I do.

      As for the entitlement, I agree. But, I also believe that we can change the minds of some, thus the need for ongoing conversations, such as this one. If we change the way one person thinks about intellectual property, then I’m calling that a victory. Plus, I really want authors to know that they are not completely powerless. There are pro-active steps to take. The options aren’t perfect, but they are something.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I lived through early days when it was hard to find lesbian reading material … the days when receiving the Naiad catalog was a huge event! Because of the scarcity of writers I wanted to read and the difficulty of finding their writing – not in libraries, not in bookstores – I continue to have a great appreciation for what exists today.

        PEOPLE! PLEASE! SUPPORT OUR WRITERS! We do not want to return to the “old days!” Buy direct when possible. Buy from the publishers who support our writers. Buy from Amazon if that is easiest for you … but do buy, don’t cheat them!

        And, then, something I have started trying to do (because it is pretty easy to contact people through their websites, blogs, etc.) is to write to the authors I have enjoyed reading and telling them that! Everyone needs encouragement and positive feedback! Treat people right … it does comes back around!


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