This Writer’s Life

I recently learned that all of my books are on Torrents, a site popular for downloading pirated works. The person I spoke with hit me with some brutal facts that I have a hard time accepting, but they are true.

Sure, I can do the usual DMCA notices and demand these Torrent sites take down my books. For all the good it will do me.

As soon as that Torrent site takes down the books, ten other sites will soon have my books available for download.

I can’t stop this. Why? Because people would rather take a book than pay for it.

Okay. Maybe little old me has no power to stop this type of theft on my own. Maybe many little old mes, authors around the world, can’t stop this problem. But I’m betting we can find a lot of people willing to understand and listen to why it’s important to purchase a book from an authorized sales venue instead of downloading from a “free” site.

We all have jobs. Most of those jobs give us a decent paycheck on a regular basis. Well, being an author is my regular job. Receiving a royalty payment each month is my paycheck. This isn’t a luxury for my family. It’s a necessity.

To make my point, I checked out some of those sites and took one of the claimed number of downloads to show exactly what my family is missing out on every month while we try to make our very small income meet the needs of a world where the cost of everything is out of our reach.

This book retails for $4.99 on Amazon, the most you’ll pay for any of my ebooks. That’s right. My ebooks are all less than five dollars. This particular site claimed 1,945 downloads. I’ll take that as the truth, although I think they’re being overly generous. Now, I don’t actually receive $4.99 per book sold through Amazon. There are fees to be paid before the royalty reaches me for both the sales venue and my publisher. That’s how this system works. We’re going to break down the earnings in total and then what I should receive, just so you get an idea what one of my forty-two books can bring in for a month.

One thousand-nine hundred-forty-five books sold in a month is a total of $9705.55 in gross earnings. Once we take out all the fees, the actual earnings that I would receive is $1941.11. Nope, that’s not how much I have to spend, because then I have to subtract taxes. Yes, authors pay taxes, just like everyone else. Basically, I have about $970.56 to spend in earnings from that one book, if everyone had actually purchased this book.

Well, that’s not too bad. Estimating all forty-two of my books selling like this and their differing prices, I could potentially earn in the range of about $5,000 a month. That’s a fair living wage. I can actually do a few things with that.

I’m sure at this point, you’re pretty bored. You’re thinking that I’m whining about not getting all that money every month. But hang around, because you’re about to learn a few facts.

First of all, my real monthly royalty payments now might buy me a latte. I might be able to pick up a loaf of bread. Or put a couple of gallons of gas in my truck. That would be for a full month, might I remind you.

Now, if I received $5,000 a month, based on this information from sites that offer you my books free, things might be a little different in our household.

My family wouldn’t have to scratch and juggle to pay utilities, insurance, and buy groceries.

We could afford to purchase gifts for each other on special occasions.

Promoting my books to new fans would become a reality. (Yes, book promoters get paid too, but not if I don’t.)

Maybe we could take a vacation for a few days.

It would be nice to get some new clothes when the old ones wear out.

Yeah, I get it. You’re still bored. So let me make this point.

All of you have an income that comes from working all week every month. You already pay for all of these things. You might even have a nice little savings set aside for emergencies, because you receive a regular paycheck that reflects your hard work. Usually for a 40 hour week.

My work week is seven days long, upwards of fifteen to twenty hours a day. Will I give up what appears to be a losing proposition because I’m not making enough? It doesn’t work like that for authors. Those stories I wouldn’t write won’t go away just because I find a job in the “real” world. They’ll still be in my head, demanding a release. If all authors quit tomorrow, people would suddenly find themselves without inexpensive entertainment.

That’s right. Authors provide you with entertainment for your whole family without the necessity of taking out a second mortgage on your house. All we ask is that you purchase our books from an authorized sales venue rather from a site offering a “free” download.

Remember, we’re real people too.


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