Digital Piracy: A Few Thoughts

750px-Flag_of_Edward_England.svgI regularly get emails from authors reporting that they’ve found their books on various piracy sites. The reaction to finding out you’re being pirated is different for everyone. It’s normal to feel cheated, used and irritated that someone would steal your hard work and share it around so easily.

In all honesty, this used to be my views of digital piracy, but after being in this business for several years — and being an avid user of digital entertainment for longer than that — my views now are very different. I don’t abide by or condone piracy, however, it is something that we have very little control over. The piracy sites I run across are often poorly run, offer inferior products and temporary. There are hundreds if not thousands of sites that are offering our books as free downloads. A lot of these sites just come to their own end after a while anyway. Only to be replaced by another one.

That said, the piracy of books has been around long before ebooks were invented and we all have done it. The license under which one buys a paper book means that you bought it for your own use, and it was not to be sold or transferred to anyone else. But who hasn’t borrowed a book from a friend, or sold/bought a book at a used bookstore? If you did, you were technically illegally obtaining or selling that book. Digital piracy is just so obvious because it is so easy to reach a multitude of people with just a simple upload. But it’s essentially the same thing.

Personally speaking, I feel that for a small press and relatively unknown authors that piracy is a good thing. If your book is being pirated, it means that people think enough about it to share it. If it’s being downloaded — which is something you can usually see on the site — then others are reading it. If they enjoy it, they’ll tell their friends about it. Isn’t that a good thing? No, you say?

Well, I suppose it’s not a good thing if the people they tell ONLY read pirated books. But most people are honest. Most people prefer the ease of their Kindle or nook. So they head over to Amazon or B&N and see that our books are fairly priced — less than that of a fancy coffee.

For myself, when I hear about a book that I want to read, I check out the price on my Kindle. If it’s overly priced (my personal threshold is about $7-$9), then I head to the library and get it sent to my Kindle or iPad from there. But you know what? The author and publisher still get paid for that borrow. If it’s below my threshold, then I click the little BUY button and I instantly have my book – and it’s well formatted and easy.

Central Avenue & Everheart books are priced low on purpose — to avoid piracy, and to encourage the purchase of taking a risk on a new author. Offering free content is likely one of the best things an unknown author can do for publicity. Some of the most successful authors are ones who actually offered their stuff for free, in some format or another. Famous authors like Neil Gaiman and Paulo Coelho are pro-piracy; simply to encourage word of mouth about their work.

Remember that if your books are being downloaded for free – they are not lost sales. The people who pirate books were never going to buy them in the first place. But they likely know people who do buy books. And they might post their thoughts of your book on Goodreads or their blog.

So for that reason, I do very little about piracy sites. I’d rather spend my time creating new books rather than limiting old ones. But as an author, if you still feel bad about your book being available on a particular site, by all means please file a complaint with them, there’s usually a link where you can do so. But if it were me, I’d leave them up there and count every download as a potential link to new fans.

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Sabrina Zollo: Woman of Wonder

9781926760797We are very proud of all our authors, but lately it seems like they’ve been getting some meaningful recognition from their peer groups and/or readers. Ellen L. Ekstrom was a finalist in a recent award; Molly Ringle’s new book has been reviewed scores of times and it’s only a week old; and Sabrina Zollo has just been named a Woman of Wonder.

We hope you’ve got a few minutes to read through her journey and leave a supportive comment or two.

Congratulations Sabrina, this recognition is well-deserved!

Sabrina ZolloSabrina Zollo is a marketing maven by day and a published author all other hours of the day. Meeting her was a great joy given how much I adore books and how much I love the writing process. 
Talk to as many people as possible; leverage your own network.
Sabrina was inspired to write her novel Why I Love My Gay Boyfriend from her experience working in marketing at a major, global, cosmetics company. “I have always wanted to be a writer,” Sabrina shares. “Even as a child I wrote stories.” With this passion in mind Sabrina was interested in journalism but quickly discovered traditional journalism wasn’t where her interest lay. “Most of what journalism covers is negative; it’s about covering often tragic, negative stories,” Sabrina says. “For me, reading is an escape; I want to bring joy into people’s lives. I want to make people laugh,” explains Sabrina.
 
Read the full article here

On Being a Small Press Author – Scott Burkhead

Running a small press is just like running a business with a group of employees – well almost. I don’t actually get to see them every day and we can’t gather around the water cooler to chat. Since we all see each other only virtually, I thought it might be nice to ‘introduce’ our authors to both each other and their readers via a series of short interviews. These interviews will run every couple of days for the next month or so – it’s a neat way of finding out how similar authors can be, and yet so different.

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Today, I’m happy to present Scott Burkhead, another one of our veterans. Scott has written some wonderful dystopian fiction, Sister Serenity and the War of 2059. What I love about this book are the strong female characters and the socio-political commentary. Back when I was getting started, I actively sought out writers and I ran across a short story that Scott had written on his blog – he had me in the first few words. Scott and I don’t talk a lot, but it’s great knowing he’s stuck with us and I always enjoy hearing from him.
1. The first book I can remember reading is: “Call of the Wild,” by Jack London.

2. The first book I ever wrote was: “The Dolphin Revelation”  Man learns to communicate with dolphins and discovers that the oceans are dying.

3. An average day in my life goes like this: 6:00AM: Walk dog.  Write.  read. Shower.  8:30AM: Go to work.  5:00PM: Yoga or swim.  7:30PM: Dinner with wife or friends.  8:00PM:  Write.  Read.  Watch NCIS or Newsroom.  11:00PM bed.

4. I found out about Central Avenue Publishing from: Michelle Halket.  I decided to submit my book because: I liked what she was doing with ebooks and trusted her.

5. The last book I read was:”Meditation”, by Eknath Easwaran.

6. In order for me to sit down and write, I need: Laptop; or pen and yellow pad; or pencil and napkin.

7. My ‘day job’ is: Advertising Agency boss

8. I carve out time to write by:  Finding nooks and crannies in my life.

9. In order to find time to write, I feel as though I sacrifice: I never feel writing is a sacrifice.

10. I am currently working on: A ‘Southern’ coming of age novel called “Roaddog”.

11. The best piece of advice I ever got was from:  My Aunt Margaret.  and it was: No matter how you feel Get up, Suit up, and Show up and you will feel better.

12. The best piece of advice I would give is: Do what you love.

On Being a Small Press Author – Sabrina Zollo

Running a small press is just like running a business with a group of employees – well almost. I don’t actually get to see them every day and we can’t gather around the water cooler to chat. Since we all see each other only virtually, I thought it might be nice to ‘introduce’ our authors to both each other and their readers via a series of short interviews. These interviews will run every couple of days for the next month or so – it’s a neat way of finding out how similar authors can be, and yet so different.

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Today I’m happy to present Sabrina Zollo, the newest author in our publishing house. Her book, WHY I LOVE MY GAY BOYFRIEND, was just released on Friday and it’s a fun story of a young woman’s new life as she enters the corporate world. I met Sabrina through a former mutual colleague who encouraged her to submit to our house, and I’m sure glad she did. She’s a fun, very professional gal who also happens to be Canadian! Please join me in welcoming her aboard.

1. The first book I can remember reading is: I was a reading monster growing up. I loved books. A WRINKLE IN TIME really stands out from my childhood. Before you’re impressed, note that I also owned the whole Sweet Valley High series.

2. The first book I ever wrote was: Actually, it’s the one that Central Avenue Publishing is publishing right now. I wrote a lot growing up but WHY I LOVE MY GAY BOYFRIEND is the first book I ever finished writing. A pretty good incentive for me to follow through on all my endeavours!

3. I found out about Central Avenue Publishing through my day job. I was presenting to a retailer and my colleague thought it would be fun to mention that I wrote a book. With a title like WHY I LOVE MY GAY BOYFRIEND, it was a little embarrassing to talk about in a corporate meeting with a customer, but it turned out the buyer knew Michelle and recommended that I submit my novel. I decided to submit my book to increase my odds.

I had gotten about twenty rejections before Michelle reached out to me. I read her email while I was away on business late at night and broke out in a celebration dance alone in my hotel room, contemplating whether I should contact my co-workers to go down to the hotel bar and celebrate. The next morning they were upset that I hadn’t!

4. The last book I read was the Steve Jobs biography. A fascinating book. What a true genius to have revolutionized everything he touched, despite possibly being the meanest person in the world.

5. In order for me to sit down and write, I need to feel so strongly about something and so connected to it that it just comes pouring out of me. I read in WRITING DOWN THE BONES that you need to let life experiences marinate within you before you realize what impact it had on you. WHY I LOVE MY GAY BOYFRIEND was inspired by a life event but it took me more than five years to realize what I wanted to say about it. And then as I wrote, I learned some more.

6. My ‘day job’ is:  I’m a brand manager at a health company. After marketing beauty, food and drug products, it’s so weird to be marketing myself!

7. I carve out time to write by forcing myself to write every Sunday afternoon no matter what. It’s amazing how efficient and productive you become when you restrict yourself to small windows.

8. I am currently working on marketing my first book – it’s my night/weekend job right now but I’m loving it. My second book is still marinating but I feel like it may be ready soon.

9. The best piece of advice I ever got regarding my writing was from my good friend Alysia. I was disappointed after a year of rejection for my book and she made me promise to keep submitting and not stop until I got a hundred rejections. Who knew that setting massive rejection as a goal would end up as the opposite?

10. The best piece of advice I would give is: Ask yourself what gives you joy and happiness and what you are truly passionate about in life. If you’re not doing it then ask yourself what the hell you’re waiting for.  Asking myself this question is what inspired me to actually write my book.

New Release: Why I Love My Gay Boyfriend by Sabrina Zollo

Today, it gives me great pleasure to introduce Sabrina Zollo, the first new author we’ve brought into the Central Avenue fold in a long, long time. We were captured by Sabrina’s great story when she submitted it – well, after we found it. It seems as though cyberspace claimed a few of our submissions late last year and we didn’t find this out till months later. I’m sure happy we found it – it’s one of the most fun stories I’ve read in a while.

It’s the story of Veronica Lopez, a young, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed MBA grad who’s looking to save the world. Faced with a lack of job prospects, she accepts a marketing position at Gisele, a global cosmetics empire. When she’s faced with female co-workers who instantly hate her, she finds solace in the only person who is nice to her, a gay man named Stevie. Stevie becomes her fashion consultant, and guide to all things corporate. When Veronica starts to get herself into trouble by performing a few career limiting moves and alienating her best girl friends, Stevie sticks by her.

It’s a fantastic tale, told with the wit of someone who is just a great story-teller. Sabrina has created characters full of flaws and redeeming qualities, as all good characters should be. Why I Love My Gay Boyfriend is a guaranteed fun read.

Sabrina Zollo is a marketer and author who lives in Toronto, Canada. She has been compulsively writing stories since childhood. She graduated with an MBA from York University and has worked in brand management for almost ten years. Sabrina is a consummate lover of Pinot Grigio, dark chocolate, shoes and spin class.

Why I Love My Gay Boyfriend is available in both print and digital editions.

On Being a Small Press Author – Deborah Riley-Magnus

Running a small press is just like running a business with a group of employees – well almost. I don’t actually get to see them every day and we can’t gather around the water cooler to chat. Since we all see each other only virtually, I thought it might be nice to ‘introduce’ our authors to both each other and their readers via a series of short interviews. These interviews will run every couple of days for the next month or so – it’s a neat way of finding out how similar authors can be, and yet so different.

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On this Monday morning, I’m happy to present Deborah Riley-Magnus. She is the author of The Twice-Baked Vampire Series and Finding Author Success. Deborah’s novels are fun and different – a mix of fantasy, paranormal and mystery with characters unlike anything I’ve read before. I met Deborah over Twitter, her wonderful interviews and advice on publishing were what caught my eye. She’s a great gal, and a great chef – and I wish we lived a little closer so we could get together to share ideas and recipes.

1. The first book I can remember reading is: The first book I remember reading will age me greatly! But I will tell you that the author who most influenced me over the years is Barbara Kingsolver. She’s amazing and her work always touches me deeply and inspires me to write better and better.

2. The first book I ever wrote was:  The first book I ever wrote was a contemporary fiction entitled “Blind in the Light”, the story of a Catholic priest struggling with a crisis of faith that takes him through an amazing journey of spirituality. Someday I’ll polish that book and look for publication.

3. An average day in my life goes like this: Oh my, let’s see. Of course my first intention is to write, I’m always working on my fiction and the next book in The Twice-Baked Vampire Series … but the reality is that I’m not just an author, I’m also an Author Success Coach. In any given week I could be teaching online or doing live workshops on marketing, promotions or publicity for authors, doing one-on-one coaching with an author, speaking live or doing various author chats. Sometimes more than one of these activities happen in a day. I forget to eat lunch almost every day, LOL. I’m a retired chef, so my roommate expects dinner when she gets home from work. In the evenings I love my Pittsburgh Pirates if it’s summer, and the Steelers and Penguins in the winter. Oh, and I’m also addicted to most reality contests shows like Top Chef, Project Runway, The Voice, etc. Before bed, I write, of course.

4. I found out about Central Avenue Publishing from:  I met Michelle Halket on Twitter and was extremely impressed with her approach to the publishing industry, her authors and her business. Central Avenue Publishing became my choice for publication.  I decided to submit my book because: Because of the Central Avenue Publishing attitude, I wanted Michelle to publish my first non-fiction, Finding Author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Marketing Power within your Manuscript. After talking at length by phone with her, I also offered Cold in California, book #1 of The Twice-Baked Vampire Series. The rest is history.

5. The last book I read was: I read several books and review them on one of my blogs. The last book I read was Touching Smoke by Airicka Phoenix. I’m currently reading Amber Polo’s Released, Book #1 of The Shapeshifters’ Library.

6. In order for me to sit down and write, I need:  TIME and QUIET. I carefully block off time to write, I don’t answer the phone or emails during those hours every day. It’s easier, of course, at night time. I listen to no music, no radio, and I even turn off that bonking noise that tells me there’s another email.

7. My ‘day job’ is:  Author Success Coach. Luckily I do this at home, over the phone, on skype or on MSN Live. I write tons of guest blogs for groups. I teach workshops through my own website, The Author Success Coach, through Savvy Authors, WOW (Women on Writing) and with a few state writing organizations and individual RWA chapters. It takes up a lot of time, but it’s so rewarding! I especially love speaking at writers’ groups and conferences and signing books. It’s a blast!

8. I carve out time to write by:  Prayer? No, What I do (because I need it) is block off hours every day to write or plot. I don’t worry about word count, I just make sure I’m on track and faithful to the time I’ve promised myself.

9. In order to find time to write, I feel as though I sacrifice:  Absolutely NOTHING!

10. I am currently working on: I’m working on several books right now. Book #3 of the Twice-Baked Vampire Series entitled Amsterdamned is being plotted. I’m working on a women’s fiction, and a romance as well as my next non-fiction which focuses on Cross Marketing for authors.

11. The best piece of advice I ever got was from:  My chef instructor in culinary school. and it was: Don’t sweat the silly stuff … after all, it’s only a meatball, not brain surgery, just a few simple ingredients mixed together and rolled for saucy deliciousness. That simple statement changed the way I look at life!

12. The best piece of advice I would give is: Two things. First, remember the most important four letter word in the world is … N E X T. So it didn’t work, try again or try something else! And second … Hey, it’s only a meatball!

What Happened at the Conference: “Finding Author Success” SCORES!

This post is reposted from Deborah Riley-Magnus’ blog – one of our authors and an Author Success Coach. We were so proud of what she accomplished, we asked her to write about it.

Last weekend I was at the Pennwriters Conference. The last time I went to this particular writer’s conference, things were quite different. I was one of a few hundred writers desperately hoping to have a good face-to-face meeting with a literary agent so I could pitch my book. The stress level was high and I was, naturally, a nervous wreck. I got through it but what I learned there reshaped my entire idea of being an author forever. That was eight years ago, it was a good experience and I did get a request for a full manuscript, but my oh my, how the industry has changed since then.

This time I was at the conference to speak, teach workshops and sign books.

Have you ever had one of those moments when you wonder what you’re doing with your life and if it matters to anyone? With the shifts in the publishing industry, of course I continued to write and after several years, finally found publication. But something else happened. The deeper I got into the true dynamics of creating success for myself, I discovered that many other authors were struggling with the same problem. With nearly all of the marketing, promotion and publicity required to make our books successful sellers on our own shoulders these days, I realized that I had something unique and powerful to offer. I have more than two decades of experience in all those elusive conundrums that baffle authors – marketing, promotions and publicity – it was suddenly obvious that I had a lot of the answers. It all began by answering authors questions on twitter about how to market and grew into Finding Author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Marketing Power within your Manuscript. It’s gone even further since the book was released last November.

Yes, I’ve had two novels published, but this time the conference for me was all about author sales success and what it takes to attain it. Armed with copies of Finding Author Success I taught a pre-conference workshop on Building a Book Business Plan. I then did a three hour workshop covering the 10 Tools for Author Success. I was asked to do a read and critique session with literary agent Miriam Kriss of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, and I sat and signed books in the hospitality suite. Sounds like lots of fun and great exposure and one would think I’d be thrilled with how far I’d come since the last Pennwriters Conference I attended … but it goes much deeper than that.

This was a wonderful experience for reasons that have nothing to do with being asked to speak in cities like Boston, Chicago, New York and all around my own state of Pennsylvania. It had to do with something even more exciting! Success … for several of the authors I chatted with, taught in the workshops or simply met in the halls.

Part of both the Book Business Plan workshop and the 10 Tools for Author Success lecture has to do with helping the authors attending to polish, tighten and add power to their 25 word core pitch. What I feared would be boring to them, turned out to be magic and five of them, using the pitch they’d perfected during the classes (and one simply through a brief conversation at breakfast) all managed to have wonderful results with the agents … and they all tracked me down to let me know that the agent they’d pitch had requested full manuscripts! I felt like a proud momma! I felt like dancing in the streets for them! And … I finally knew that what I’m doing really does make a difference.

I’m not one for shouting from the rooftops but my publisher encouraged me to do a little horn tooting about this. Finding Author Success is truly a book that helps authors in many ways, from getting an agent or publisher’s attention to letting the whole world know they have a book for sale.

Another thing that came from the conference was the fact that as much as I love writing fiction and will continue to do so, there’s much more on the horizon for me as an Author Success Coach. I can help authors find the sales success they need by taking them deeper into the simple but unique areas of marketing most authors never explore. I’m starting another book for Author Success that will focus on the power and push of serious cross marketing that can take an author’s book sales from mediocre to the stars.

Now all I have to do is write it.

FREE Ten Tools for Author Success Handbook available for download at The Author Success Coach website.

“Finding Author Success” available in print and ebook on Amazon, B&N, Apple and Sony!