Back in 2016, I wrote a heartfelt post about something that was taking place on Facebook: a reader, claiming to be too poor to buy books, wanted to know the best sites to locate bootleg sources of her favorite author’s stories. When confronted about her behavior, she laughed it off and blocked anyone who tried to get her to see why this was wrong.
My response to this outrageous attitude was to write Dear Broke Reader: Your Sense of Entitlement is Killing Me, and the follow up post, Dear Broke Reader and Your Sense of Entitlement (Part 2). To my surprise, the post went viral, was shared by Wil Wheaton, and then several of my favorite authors came by to show their support, including Dana Stabenow and Elizabeth Moon. Believe me, no one was more shocked than I was at how this post resonated with so many.
Tonight, once again, I learned of another pirate site offering several of my stories as free downloads. They do not have the right to do this. I will be contacting them and filing a DCMA notice with them, not that I think it will do much good. I’m not listing the site here because I don’t want to send more traffic to a site that is infringing upon my copyright (unless it is to share with fellow authors so they, too, can send takedown notices).
I just have to say one thing. I get that times are tough. I get that people need their escapism. It’s why I write in the first place. Or I did.
See, I haven’t published anything in the last four years. Why? Well, for starters, I’ve experienced an avalanche of personal loss since the end of 2016. (Funny how everything wrong in my life seems to coincide perfectly with the current administration, but that’s a post for another day…) I’ve jokingly said elsewhere that if I put all the things that have happened to me in one story, I’d be run out of town for such an unrealistic plot. But the truth is I’ve lost and buried more than I wish to share here, and I went into a deep dark place as a result. I worked, came home, fell into bed, got up, and went to work again. There was no creativity, no joy. I’m not saying this to beg for sympathy or even to explain my failure to finish the Sixth Sense series. It’s just a simple fact: when you are severely depressed, you might be able to function, but you can’t necessarily create. In my case, this was true.
Just when I began pulling out of this dark hole, the pandemic struck. I am an essential worker. I don’t get to stay home: I’ve had to continue to go into work with the added stress of wondering if I’m going to get exposed to a disease that would probably kill me if I caught it. Guess what? It’s hard to be creative in that environment, too. I’m not saying this to complain–I know I’m lucky to still have income coming in–I’m stating the facts.
And the fact is, even though you know in your heart that people need stories of hope and encouragement more than ever–stories that make them forget their fears–stories that end well–it’s hard to feel that anything you write could possibly matter when the world feels like its ending and everything you love is threatened. When you find out once again that something you created is being downloaded for free by a site that doesn’t give a rat’s ass if they have the right to do so or not, it’s hard to see the point in continuing to publish your work.
That’s ultimately my decision. But I have to tell you, unchecked piracy makes the likelihood of my continuing to write much, much lower.
And I dearly wish someone would tell Nora Roberts her books are there as well. I’d love to see that site go down in the flames of her wrath.