Authors Answer 149 – eBook Piracy

Pretty much everything that’s been copyrighted or patented has been copied. There are bootleg copies of Rolex watches, bootlegged and pirated movies, sharing of music with peer-to-peer sharing software, and eBook piracy. It’s the last one we’re concerned about. This week’s question was asked by Gregory S. Close.

Question 149 – What are your thoughts on ebook piracy – is it a terrible scourge, a necessary evil, or potentially great viral exposure?

C E Aylett

That’s a tricky one. I mean, before ebooks were around how many times did you lend or were lent a book? We didn’t recognise it back then as piracy, but it amounts to the same thing — sharing a work you didn’t have the right to distribute. Of course, that’s small scale compared to how things are shared nowadays.

I came across one of my Kindle stories on a reading site the other day, actually. I thought I’d investigate further and hit the ‘read online’ button to see what happened. It asked me to register and give my credit card details, even though they promised they wouldn’t take any money from the card. Obviously, alarm bells were clanging and I declined, but it did make me wonder how it worked. If I had given my card number, would I have been able to access the story for free, and if so, how can that be when it’s a story solely on Kindle and should be behind a paywall? If they had scammed me and taken money from my card, would I have had access to the story for free and who the hell is making money on the back of my work and not paying me? Because Amazon are the only ones who pay me for those stories. It’s one thing having stuff out there for free because you want to share your work or gain readership but it’s something else entirely if people have access to unlimited content for a small fee that isn’t being paid to the authors of the material the hosts are profiting from. That is noxious. But it seems the life of an author, sadly. Most short fiction publications want you to donate your work to them for nothing, too. It’s attack on the author from all sides!

D. T. Nova

A mildly annoying scourge, maybe? It’s bad and should be discouraged, but I think the scale of it isn’t sufficient to be as big a concern as some people make it to be.

Paul B. Spence

*Shrug* I don’t feel like it affects me. I could see it being a strategy for viral marketing, if anyone wanted the book. The way I see it, people who want to buy my book will buy my book. If they are pirating lots of books, they probably won’t ever read mine anyway.

Cyrus Keith

Any kind of intellectual piracy is the kind of arrogance I’d relegate to someone with the mentality and moral compass of a fly. The worst part is, they don’t respect anyone else’s privacy and property, and think nothing of stealing from others, justifying their theft through entitlement thinking. They don’t care how much blood, sweat and tears we have to pour out to create our work, they just want a free ride on our coattails. My blood pressure goes up even thinking about these cretins, these leeches, taking food from my table, stealing from my pocket, not caring that I struggle to meet my own bills. They may as well be coming through my window and making off with my wallet. There is no excuse, no good reason for what they do, and I wish I could implant something in every one of my books that could detect a piracy attempt and fry out their hard drive. I believe I’ve answered the question.

Gregory S. Close

I think piracy sucks, and there’s (generally) no excuse for it. I have no problem with friends sharing individual copies of paperback or ebooks, but actual piracy, where the book is taken and distributed to millions upon millions with one click – no. I don’t buy the “it gets you more exposure” or “there’s nothing you can do about it” arguments. It’s stealing. You are taking something that an author worked very hard to create and produce in a qualify way, and you’re not compensating the artist. That sucks. It’s also a bad way to ensure ever getting further creative content from that artist. If someone really wanted a free copy of my book, for example, they might try ASKING me for it vs. torrenting it.

Eric Wood

At first, my initial thought is that it’s a terrible scourge. I wouldn’t walk into a bookstore and walk out with a (or many) book without paying for it. Why I would I do that online? I might as well take the money right from the author’s pockets. However, with the internet being the internet, it’s going to happen. So perhaps it’s more a necessary evil? It will help word of your work spread when one reads it (for free or otherwise) and tells others that they read it and liked it and encourage others to read it who then go out and buy it.

Jean Davis

As much as it might potentially be great exposure, I work for months, sometimes years on a book. Giving that effort away for free doesn’t pay my bills. It’s not like I’m working for some giant book making company that pays me regardless and can absorb the losses piracy creates. When you don’t purchase the book in one way or another, that’s lunch money for my kid, my electric bill, etc, that falls short.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

That’s a tough one. I don’t know if I’d call it a “scourge” any more than I’d use the same word to describe the thousands of people who pirate each episode of Game of Thrones (hey, if HBO is going to make it effectively impossible to legally obtain episodes in Canada, I’m calling the piracy fair game!). A necessary evil? Perhaps, because it’s simply one of those things that’s nearly impossible to avoid, so why bother worrying too much about it? Potentially great viral exposure? I guess that depends on a number of factors. All in all, I can personally say that, as an indie author with little-to-no royalty income to her name, I do find the idea that people might be passing around pirated copies of my book to be very vexing. But then again, these pirates who are reading the book probably wouldn’t have ever read the book if they hadn’t been able to pirate it. So it’s one of those situations in which you almost have to just be happy with the less crappy option; either way I’m not getting paid, but at least someone is reading the book. Was my thought process bouncy enough for you on that one?

H. Anthe Davis

As someone who doesn’t write for the money, it doesn’t really mean anything to me. So long as people are reading it, I’m happy. Though I’d like it if they’d leave a review somewhere…

Jay Dee Archer

Necessary evil? No, it’s not necessary at all. Scourge? Probably not as bad as people may think, but it would be incredibly irritating for me to find that one of my (future) books is pirated. Potentially great viral exposure? Exactly how is it going to go viral? Thousands of people download the pirated copy, and I don’t see a single penny? No. Absolutely not. I’ve been working on this for years. I want my money. Am I greedy? No. Any artist who works on something for a long time, putting so much time and energy into something, would want a return in their investment. While I don’t expect to be a bestseller, I want to be able to pay bills. I have a family to support. Just like I’m not going to write for someone for free just for the exposure. I write for you, you pay me. Same thing if I was doing photography. You want me to take pictures for you, you pay me. You want me to paint a picture for you, you pay me. I write a book and spend a large amount of time and effort on it, I expect to be paid for it. So, eBook piracy is stealing. It’s that simple.

How about you?

Are you an author? How do you feel about eBook piracy? If you’re not an author, but you’re a reader, how do you feel about obtaining books through questionable means without giving compensation to the author? Let us know in the comments below.

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Authors Answer 148 – Selling Your Book’s Film Rights

Popular books are most likely to be filmed. Lord of the Rings became arguably some of the best film adaptations. The Hobbit is another matter. Jurassic Park became a fun action and special effects movie, but lost the intelligence of the book. When authors sell the film rights to their books, they have to consider who’s going to make the movie and how closely they’ll adhere to the original story of the book. Do it for money, or do it for the integrity of the story? This week’s question was asked by C E Aylett.

Question 148 – Given the opportunity, would you sell film rights to your book without question or risk waiting for the right production team to come along later down the line, even if there were no other offers on the table?

H. Anthe Davis

I would certainly want to wait for the right production team. A big part of my series, its themes and its world is the multi-racial and especially the mixed-racial aspect, to the point that I’d want most of the cast to be of mixed heritage. Considering Hollywood’s long-standing whitewashing issues, I would need to trust the casting department of whatever production team I sold it to, or else the whole point of the story would be adulterated.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

It’s entirely possible that my answer would change down the road, based on my present situation, but right now, at this exact moment in time, if someone wanted to buy the film rights to one of my books I’d probably have the contract signed before they could finish forming the sentence. For one thing, I assume the money for selling film rights would be a fairly nice little paycheck, which I could definitely use at this junction in my life. For another thing, I jut think it would be amazing to have someone make a movie of one of my stories. Perhaps they’d butcher it beyond belief, but I guess just the idea that someone would even consider one of my stories worth adapting to film sounds incredible to me.

Jean Davis

That would be like accepting a publisher’s offer without question just so you can be published. No thanks. As awesome as an offer on film rights would be, I have questions and I need answers before signing anything.

Eric Wood

If it were my first book turned movie I would probably sell the rights to the first comer. I would just be so excited to see my work on the big screen that I wouldn’t want to wait for another team to come along. If later books were to become movies I would hold out for the right production team. After the novelty of the silver screen wore off after the first movie, I would want to see my next one done bigger and better and as professionally as possible with an A list cast.

Gregory S. Close

I’m not sure that I’d sell the film rights “without question” but I would probably make some sacrifice in creative control/oversight if the payout meant that I could choose to write full-time. I would rather wait for the right team/studio to make the most faithful adaptation possible for the chosen medium, but I’m too old and have too many bills and obligations to be too picky. I’m in more of a Han Solo frame of mind than Luke Skywalker on this point, I guess!

Cyrus Keith

I have a huge personal stake on my reputation as a person as well as a writer. Opening Hollywood to do the same to my work as what they did to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and so many other novels makes my skin crawl. I couldn’t bring myself to sign off carte-blanche creative control to someone who would make my work mean something totally different from what I wrote.

Paul B. Spence

Hmm. Tough question. I might sell an option without question, but not the rights altogether. I suppose the answer is no, unless they offered me some ridiculous sum of money, in which case they are probably right for the production anyway.

D. T. Nova

I’d definitely have some standards.

I particularly don’t like the thought of having to turn down a later offer because the rights are tied up with something that might not even be made and won’t be good even if it is.

C E Aylett

Ha-ha! My own question and I have no idea. I think maybe it would depend on which book. Some would probably have a higher emotion investment than others (on my part). Also, it might depend on how popular the book was. I mean, let’s say it turned into a cult classic or huge like 50 Shades, then maybe you could afford to wait it out. George R.R Martin says that by the time film options came to him he’d made so much money from the book series he could afford to say no to Hollywood, and did. And aren’t we all grateful for that!

Jay Dee Archer

Without question? No. I don’t think authors are likely to do that. There will be questions. Who wouldn’t ask questions? I’d want to make sure that they aren’t going to completely change the story. If it turns out totally different than the book, I probably wouldn’t want it connected to my book, especially if it flops. Ideally, I’d like to have some creative control with the script of the movie. I’d want to work with the scriptwriters. No, I’d probably want to wait, unless that first offer is actually pretty good.

How about you?

If you’re an author, would you sell the movie rights to your books to the first studio that gives you an offer without question, or would you wait for the right offer? Let us know in the comments below.

Where’s Authors Answer?

You may have noticed that the last three Authors Answer haven’t gone up. Never fear, they will all be up this week! This is going to be a big Authors Answer week, so plenty of answers to read. What happened? Life, generally. I won’t go into details, but a lot happened.

What’s in store for October? Normalcy! Actually, it’ll be Authors Answer’s third anniversary at the end of this month, and if you’ve been following it for a long time, you’ll know what we do for our anniversary questions. Guest authors! I don’t know who’s going to be a guest yet, but I have a lot of people I want to ask. In the past, we’ve had Michael J. Sullivan, Django Wexler, Janny Wurts, Mark Lawrence, and more! I’m hoping for some more authors this month.

Who do you think I should ask? Keep in mind that most books I read are fantasy and science fiction, so I’d be more inclined to ask fantasy and science fiction authors.  Let me know in the comments section below.

The Slow Month! The Jay Dee Show 39

September is done, and I’m finally doing another video digest. August was VEDA, so I was doing a video every day. But in September, I did fewer videos on my main channel than an entire week in August! Let’s just say that I had a bit of a video-making overload in August, and September was my month to recover. But I was able to make a video for my science channel, too! I did a total of 6 videos on my main channel and 1 on my science channel.

On my main channel, I made mostly Authors Answer videos, but also a couple Star Trek Discovery videos!

First up is Authors Answer #44, all about money! Check it out.

And then came another Authors Answer. But this one is about using real life events to influence writing fiction.

Continuing on with some Japan videos, I visited Meigetsuin, a temple known for its hydrangea. Beautiful place!

And then another Authors Answer, one talking about this blog!

And finally, the two Star Trek Discovery episode reviews. Here’s episode 1:

And episode 2:

Moving on to my science channel, there was a big news story coming from Saturn. Cassini is no more! It’s now burned up in the atmosphere of Saturn. I talked about what happened and looked at some of Cassini’s discoveries.

Coming in the next couple days, I’ll be opening up a new channel! This new channel is all about English. As you may know, I was an English teacher in Japan. I’ve got the itch to teach English again, and I thought, why not make quick lessons on YouTube? So, stay tuned for that!

What did you think of the videos for September? Let me know which ones you liked the most.

Star Trek Discovery Episode Reviews!

Star Trek Discovery has premiered, and I’ve now watched the first two episodes. This has been a controversial series, mainly due to the fact that it’s only available from CBS All Access in the US, CraveTV and Space (broadcast on TV!) in Canada, and Netflix elsewhere. Luckily for me, I can see it on TV and stream it through the Space website.

There have been a lot of people bashing the show, as well. They were saying a lot of things about how it’ll be garbage. Keep in mind that this is before a single episode even aired. The same thing happened before Star Trek: The Next Generation started, and we know how that series went (extremely successful). I’m the kind of person who wants to keep an open mind about the series.

The first two episodes are more like a prologue to the rest of the series. Nothing takes place on the USS Discovery. We have yet to meet most of the cast. It was an interesting start, I’d say. I reviewed the first two episodes, which you can watch below.

Will I continue to watch it? Of course! It is my goal to review every single Star Trek episode and movie. But I already like Star Trek Discovery! And having watched the preview of episode 3, this is looking very interesting indeed.

What did you think of the first two episodes? Do you agree or disagree with my reviews? Let me know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer 147 – Considering Economic Factors When Writing

Creativity is probably the leading reason authors write. They want to create stories that people enjoy. But how much does economics factor into writing books? There are several factors that may figure into how a person writes, including book length and more. This week’s question comes from Gregory S. Close.

Question 147 – Do you write purely creatively, or do you consider economic factors, such as how long the book will be, and how that would effect production/distribution costs?

C E Aylett

Purely creatively. If you approach it from the other direction you are boxing in your muse. And there’s nothing worse than a story that feels contrived to fit size (think of TV series Game of Thrones — wouldn’t we have liked a little more time to develop the Jon/ Dany relationship? Now it feels inauthentic because it wasn’t afforded the proper amount of time to develop, unlike him and Ygritte.)

D. T. Nova

I’ve paid attention to the length, but with more focus on pacing and tension than on economics.

Paul B. Spence

A little of both, of course. I write the book as creatively as you could wish. I do, however, keep in mind a certain size for the book. I try for ninety thousand to one hundred-fifty thousand words per book. So far so good…

Cyrus Keith

Word count is a factor. Many publishers today don’t want to even look at works less than 75,000 words for a novel. After that, I write what I want to write.

Gregory S. Close

Once upon a time I wrote purely creatively, and assumed that the merit of the work would drive how it was published, rather than things like page count, trim, how much shelf-space it would take up, etc. I thought that I was being economically responsible, but I really didn’t know how things worked until my first experience self-publishing. After surviving that, and realizing how much the size of a book effects the production cost, and thus the potential profit for the publisher and/or author (I only get pennies for every paperback of In Siege of Daylight that I sell, because of the print/production costs of a 600+ page, 240k word beast of a tome that it is), I changed my tune.

Now, I’m a lot more practical in how I consider my writing. I know that the sequel to Daylight will probably be equally huge. I can’t afford to invest the time in another epic and the money in the editing, cover art, trim etc. for another economically doomed novel. So, to be strategic, I have decided that if/when I write at all now, it is to be focused on the shorter, more contained, and potentially more profitable books (Greyspace, short stories and a couple of other ideas I’ve got kicking around). In theory, strategically marketing those more profitable works should allow for me to then pivot back to the GIANT TOTALLY EPIC SERIES. Back and forth I must go, if I ever want to make this work. It takes some of the fun out of it, but ultimately, planning ahead might make the difference between getting a chance to write full time or continuing to write part time, part of the time.

Eric Wood

Seeing as how I’m not published yet, I write solely creatively. I write for free right now, so if someone were to offer to pay me double I’d still make nothing. Perhaps one day I’ll have keep those factors in mind.

Jean Davis

When I set out to write a book, I just write the book. The story is how long it is. However, when it comes to editing that story, I then consider the overall length and what publishing goal would be the best for that particular project. I find it’s easier to focus on embellishing or streamlining after the initial creative process has had its way with the story. Too much pressure to meet a specific word goal makes it more difficult to get that first draft out. I get too hung up on specific word choices, efficient sentence structures or adding sufficient wordy depth to the plot, description, and characters.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

For the overwhelming part, I write purely creatively. I consider small factors, such as ensuring that the book is at least a certain length, but in general I don’t really let that affect my writing. Some would probably say that I should, because it might make my books more attractive to readers/publishers/etc, but for the most part I write because I love it and because I have stories to tell, and I don’t feel like obsessing over those “economic factors” do anything toward writing a good story. Creating something that is enjoyed by the people who read it is more important to me than creating something that checks off all the proper boxes as far as “proper” creation of a book.

H. Anthe Davis

While I’m aware of length and production issues (being an Amazon CreateSpace self-publisher in the print version, and therefore able to see what it costs per unit at certain sizes), I believe a book has to be the length it deserves to be. Can’t shortchange the plot or the characters just for space considerations. That said, there are always tweaks that can be made and extraneous bits that can be trimmed to keep the page count more manageable. I do what I can.

Jay Dee Archer

At the moment, I’m writing purely creatively. I’m not at the point where I’m considering economic factors, such as length of the book. I believe it’s more important to write what I think is a great story. Of course, I have the length of the book in the back of my mind, but also things like cover art. But if I’m thinking about economic factors, it will interfere with my creative process. Write first, worry about the other things later. But once I am considering economic factors, then I will look at what’s best in terms of being published, both independently and traditionally.

How about you?

If you’re an author, do you consider economic aspects while writing, or do you focus on it entirely creatively? Let us know in the comments section below.

The End of Cassini: Crashing Into Saturn

On September 15, the Cassini spacecraft will come to an end. It’s going to crash into Saturn after orbiting it for more than 13 years. That’s a long time.

Cassini has brought us an incredible amount of information. Some of it has been extremely exciting. Lakes on Titan, liquid water ocean on Enceladus, the spongy-looking surface of Hyperion, and the split personality of Iapetus. And then there are the rings and the atmosphere of Saturn. I talk all about that and why Cassini is crashing into Saturn in my most recent science video.

What are some of your best memories of the Cassini mission? Let me know in the comments section below.

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