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.

New Release: I WROTE THIS FOR YOU: JUST THE WORDS by pleasefindthis

Digital Cover for I WROTE THIS FOR YOU: JUST THE WORDS
Digital Cover for I WROTE THIS FOR YOU: JUST THE WORDS

It is to great anticipation that we release the digital version of I Wrote This For You: Just the Words by pleasefindthis. Pleasefindthis is the work of two very talented individuals, poet Iain S. Thomas and photographer, Jon Ellis. These two gentlemen, who live across the world from each other, created the blogging phenomenon I Wrote This For You back in 2007. Since that time, they have won the hearts of countless thousands of fans from around the world with haunting prose and vivid and poignant photography.

Their first book: a full colour version of the photos and selected poems from the blog was released in 2011; and we now are happy to present a more full collection of the poetry with select new photography. It presents twice the number of entries with over 400 works, including several new and never before seen poems. Each section of the book portrays aspects of our journey through life in all aspects of the human experience.

The ebook will become available the weekend of Dec 6 with the print book following in a few weeks. Enjoy…

New Release: Match Point by Chelsea Dorsette

9781771680110As the holidays kick off, it is our pleasure to present the third book by erotica author, Chelsea Dorsette. Chelsea’s work is full of all the kinds of things one looks for in erotica, hot scenes coupled with intense emotion and drama. You might also notice a new look to all of Chelsea’s books – both Escape and Longing have gotten make-overs which we feel capture the sensual nature of her books.

In Match Point, we follow the adventures of Kelly and Patrick. After losing her mother to cancer, Kelly musters up the courage to move to South Carolina to pursue her dream of becoming a mystery writer. In those wildest dreams she never imagined she would meet – let alone fall in love with – Patrick, her sexy tennis instructor. What starts as innocent flirting quickly becomes the most erotic sexual relationship she has ever had. When things start heating up, two jealous tennis club employees hatch a plot to break them apart. When Patrick thinks there’s no hope of ever getting Kelly back, an unexpected conversation gives him the information he needs to exact revenge. But will it be enough to get Kelly back into his life and his bed again?

We are also running a giveaway! Click here to win a copy of all her books and an iTunes Gift Card!

31 Pieces of Advice for Writers

DSC_0078I’m no author. I’ve never written a single thing – well, maybe in high school for an English class, I might have composed a short story or two.

However, I have published almost 100 books and along the way, I have had the pleasure of working with lots of great authors. I am an editor, proofreader, cover designer, bookkeeper, marketer, ebook coder, typesetter and publicist. I love some of those aspects of my job and loathe others. One of the things I have to do that I really dislike is being a cheerleader. The reason I dislike it is not because I don’t like encouraging people, but because the people I encourage often feel they need it – and without reason.

I believe that the authors I work with are all talented, they possess a gift that I lack – and I respect them greatly. So it bothers me when I hear them get down on themselves, their work or their sales. I suppose it is a curse of being creatively gifted. Don’t get me wrong, there are times that I doubt myself and what I’m doing, but I plug away and keep looking ahead and then gently remind myself of the things I’ve done right. When I remember what I’ve done wrong, I tell myself I won’t make the same mistake again.

At any rate, because I write a lot of cheerleading emails, I thought I would post some of the points here that perhaps some other authors could use. Some years back, I read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield – I strongly recommend it. Some of the things I tell authors come from him – and I thus credit his wisdom.

As NaNoWriMo gets started, perhaps the timing of this blog post is good. So here goes, the things I would tell any person who is compelled to write.

  1. You were put on this world to write. To not do so would be cheating all of us.
  2. Very few authors are overnight successes. Most write for their whole lives to achieve only a small degree of financial success.
  3. Define your vision of success. Is it to be the next Rowling, or to simply write down the words inside you on a piece of paper? Or is it something in between? Be specific.
  4. Write the stories inside you. Don’t write to the current trends – if you do, it will always come out disingenuous and poorly done.
  5. When you are in active writing mode, work every day on your writing. You might not write words, but think about your story, research or make notes.
  6. Connect with other like-minded authors and share ideas – either creative or business. I stress the word “like-minded”.
  7. If you consider yourself a professional published author, then treat your books like a small business. Be active in all aspects of the business and don’t expect instant fame and fortune. Remember that small businesses take a few years to get off the ground.
  8. Strive for organic, slow growth. To come out of the gates and sell a 100,000 copies would be great, but for most authors, it’s akin to winning the lottery. Write a book, publish it and market it. Then write another one and do the same. Then write another one. The best thing you can do is to keep writing and to have a bunch of books in your portfolio.
  9. Put yourself out there. Not just in marketing sense, but apply for grants or awards or attend writer’s festivals.
  10. Share your gift – for free: do a reading at your local library, share your stories on a blog or give away a few copies your books to a shelter.
  11. Tell others you write books but don’t force your books on your friends. If they want to know more or support you, they’ll let you know.
  12. Don’t rely on family and friends to support you in this part of your life, the support will come from other places.
  13. Acknowledge your gift to yourself and be thankful for it. Whether you think it’s one or not – it is a gift that not all of us possess.
  14. Be supportive of other authors. Offer advice, encourage writing in young people who show interest, and connect in the ways that are meaningful to you.
  15. Research what other authors do. How do they conduct their writing business? Find out what their website looks like? How do the conduct themselves online? Choose the ones you respect and mimic aspects of what they do. Learn from the mistakes of others.
  16. Never publicly respond to a review – good or bad.
  17. Don’t compare yourself to any other writer. To do so is to invite jealousy, insecurity or a false sense of superiority.
  18. Read reviews, digest the opinion, apply what’s relevant and important to you and then discard it. Don’t hold on to, quote or spend any more time thinking about them.
  19. Write. A lot. Publish it any way you want to. Get it out there into the world. Offer some things for free and sell others.
  20. Don’t be afraid of pirating. There’s very little you can do to stop it and to spend your energy on trying to thwart pirates will take it away from where it should be: creating. And often, good books that are highly pirated end up selling more anyway.
  21. Creativity can foster wallowing. Keep all this in perspective. While you are a writer, you are also many other things. Remember that writing is just one aspect of you.
  22. Did anyone buy your books? Then you are a professional author. The amount you made is irrelevant.
  23. I define a great book as having great writing, great characters and a great plot. Take the time to learn about how to make each of those three things happen. Writing is also about research and learning not just getting the book onto paper/computer.
  24. Not all your works will be good. Some might be kind of bad. That’s okay. Learn from them.
  25. Believe in yourself. I know it’s cliche, but if you don’t – then why would anyone else?
  26. Do your best to avoid feeling too high and too low. When something great happens, take it in stride. Do the same when something bad happens.
  27. There will always be haters.
  28. Disregard them.
  29. I am proud of you.
  30. So are many others.
  31. Now go and write me a story.

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

A Knight on Horseback: Award Finalist

ida-winner-header

We are very pleased and proud to announce that a title by Ellen L. Ekstrom has placed in the OKRWA International Digital Awards for Contemporary Romance Novel.

On June 30, the OKRWA announced the winners and finalists in their well-respected awards and we were very proud to see A KNIGHT ON HORSEBACK place in this category among scores of entries. It’s a well deserved recognition for this veteran writer of enthralling stories of not only romance, but fantasy and historical fiction. Her characters are always multi-dimensional and she brings a realism to her tales that make them relatable to readers. So please join me in congratulating Ellen for this fantastic acknowledgement of her hard work.

9781926760193medEkstrom’s book tells the story of Violet Ellison,  a woman who seemingly has it all: three adorable kids, a handsome – but distant – husband and a home in a good neighborhood. But her life is falling apart: she’s burning the candle at both ends to look after her family, finish a history degree and working a full-time job to keep the bill collectors at bay. The morning she finds a chess piece on the sidewalk, a knight on horseback, things start to change. While not one for fairy tales, Violet’s life takes a Cinderella turn and in finding the perfect dress for a society event, she runs into the perfect man: a rock star she’s had a crush on since her teens. A family friend who reminds her of everything she’s been trying to forget suddenly returns, and Violet has some difficult decisions before her. When it all comes crashing down, she realizes that she really didn’t need a knight in shining armor – just some time and space to figure things out, and maybe some sleep.

Ellen Ekstrom

Ellen L. Ekstrom has been intrigued by all things medieval since seeing Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” as a five-year old—when it was first run in theaters. Now that she is in her own middle ages, her passion for all things medieval is still strong. She is a member of the clergy in the Episcopal Church and serves as the parish deacon in a local church in Berkeley, California. To support her family and frenetic lifestyle, she works as a legal secretary. Once in a while, she sleeps.

Ellen is also the author of Armor of LightTallis’ Third TuneScarborough; and The Legacy

New Release: The Regenesis Cluster by Dean Mayes

As spring breaks across the northern hemisphere, we are pleased to present a short story on rebirth. The Regenesis Cluster is written by Dean Mayes and skilfully examines what reincarnation might look like.

A fascinating and visceral view of life, death and life is told as a dolphin intently watches the phenomenon unfold. Available on all digital book stores on Friday, April 19.

Dean Mayes has established himself as an author of greatDeanMayes passion and literary style since releasing his first novel “The Hambledown Dream” in 2010. When not writing, Dean practices Intensive Care Nursing in Pediatrics. He lives in Adelaide, Australia with his partner Emily and his children Xavier and Lucy.