Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kate Douglas's Thoughts

I dunno if piracy is the culprit or maybe just the poor economy, but I'm hearing from so many people asking me WHY Wolf Tales is ending after twelve novels and nine novellas over the past five years, and I wanted to give my take on it. The long and the short of it is, my publisher wants me to wrap it up. Sales have dropped off and it's time to end it. The question is, why have sales fallen so precipitously that I'm penning the final book in the series?

I've got my own theory, and it's not a pretty picture. I think digital piracy is to blame.

Wanting to write my stories and being able to afford to write them are two different things--and it's my publisher's call as to whether or not the books are selling well enough for them to be profitable. I'm not sure how much of the problem is due to piracy--stolen digital copies of our books--but the problem of pirated copies is rampant, and no one seems to realize that by downloading a free book, which is stealing a book (there IS no other name for it) they're taking the money directly out of the author's pocket. Those stolen copies affect sales and then the publisher can't afford to produce the book, and the series dies. It's a horribly unfortunate fact of life.

What's really awful is that I know there are readers of mine, insisting that the series HAS to keep going, who have never paid for a copy. They steal them. I know this because I see them talking about it on other lists and it infuriates me--especially when they're often the same people who write and complain about the poor quality of their pirated ebook! Other readers of mine are the guilty parties who are uploading my books to pirate sites--they buy their copy and share it with every thief around who wants to download a book. I'm not sure why they think their online generosity is so important that they would risk an author's career to make a few points with online friends, but it happens. A lot.

Is it frustrating? Yes, very, but, we live in an age of entitlement where too many people want something for nothing. Unfortunately, as an author living off her writing income, I can't afford to write a series and give it away, which is what I'm doing when people steal my books.

Kensington Publishing has hired a company to monitor piracy, but it's like playing whack a mole--you stop it at one site and someone else uploads the same file a day later. It makes me very angry and very sad, to think that something I love as much as I love writing Wolf Tales may be ending because too many people are stealing my books, but until people realize that stealing a pirated book is NOT a victimless crime, it's going to continue to be a problem. Trust me, I'm not the only victim here--the readers who want the series to continue are losing out, too. Content is not always free, no matter how much you want it to be. Someone has to create it, someone has to produce it, and that someone has to put food on the table and pay the bills.

Think about that next time you decide to download a free copy of a favorite book, just because it's there.

Okay...rant over. It's just been a very difficult week for me, writing these final scenes, and then when my "Google Alert" message showed up a bit ago, it was filled with sites making my pirated books available to anyone willing to steal a copy. On days like this, I wonder why I even try anymore.