>Open Letter on eBook Piracy

>Reposted – An open letter to the Executive Director/President of RWA, Presidents of SFWA, and Authors’ Guild concerning copyright infringement.

Dear Allison Kelley, Michelle Monkou, John Scalzi, Scott Turow:

Thank you very much for everything you do to defend authors’ copyrights against copyright infringement. We very much appreciate having an address to which to send our complaints, and the comfort of knowing that you compile a database of the most egregious “pirates” and pirate sites.

Despite small triumphs, ignorance persists among honest readers; lies about the legality of “sharing” go unchallenged, and the problem is getting much worse.

Please Ms. Kelley, Ms. Monkou, Mr. Scalzi and Mr. Turow, will you talk to one another, set up one powerhouse task force, meet regularly, share resources, engage your members, give authors one central “Go To” address where we can submit complaints, report piracy sites, blogs and yahoogroups, cc our individual take-down notices.

One forceful industry voice could shut down an entire account and insist on a hosting site complying with their own terms of service (TOS) where their TOS has been repeatedly violated, instead of requiring individual authors to request the removal of one file at a time.

Thank you.
Rowena Cherry (IWOFA)

Permission granted to forward, share, repost, or use as a template for other open letters.

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A Note From Monica

Authors are people who want to write for a living, but many of us have to hold down full-time jobs to keep writing. With the continued push by all publishers to provide consumers with the content they want in the format they desire, the number of illegal downloads is growing exponentially. As someone who came up the ranks from ePub, I am excited to see eBooks taking the industry by storm. What I am NOT excited about is the number of illegal copies of digital books downloaded every day. Some readers don’t realize it’s illegal to download an eBook off a torrent site, and unfortunately there are others who don’t care.

To give you an example of how it affects authors. My book Obsession that was released in 2006 has been uploaded on numerous torrent sites with an amazing number of downloads. On one site alone, there were 8300 downloads. That equates to a lot of money for me. If all those copies of the book had been downloaded direct from the publisher I would have earned more than $18,000. If all those copies had been downloaded from a legitimate eBook distributor, I would have made $8052. As it is, I earned less than $3000 on the book overall. If you were to take that amount and multiply it by four books a year, that’s $12,000. Poverty level for a family of four in 2009 was about $22,000. Clearly there’s a reason for the image that artists suffer for their art.

I’m certain that this might sound like whining to some readers. I don’t see it that way. I want to write stories that please readers, but when some people unfairly download books they don’t pay for it’s wrong. It’s also wrong to assume my work should be available for pennies on the dollar simply because the format is cheaper to produce the work in. It’s important to pay the author their worth.

Far too many people see all the celebs getting all these multi-million dollar contracts and automatically assume that the rest of us are making big bucks as well. Not true. If you’re in ePub you don’t get big advances, although you do get monthly checks, which I really like. If you write for NY you get a nice advance, but when you break it down, you get very little because you’re still doing your own advertising and promotion. Between 2007 and present, I’ve spent more than $13,000 on advertising and promo. That put a HUGE dent in my advances and royalties.

I want to write for a living. IOWs I want to make enough money off my writing to live above the poverty level. I’m not looking to be rich, I’ll be satisfied earning what I earn now in my state gov’t job (which isn’t much). But I would like to work ONE job instead of two.

So help authors out, spread the word that piracy is wrong. I don’t mind sharing if you own a Nook or Kindle, because if you really like my work, you’ll eventually buy your own copy. But sharing for free on a torrent site is wrong, because when I see my $5 book going for nothing on a torrent site and realize that the loss is running between $8k and $18k, well lets just say it ticks me off. Not just because it makes me wonder if it’s all worth it. But first and foremost, I know that if I didn’t have to work the day job, I’d be writing MORE STORIES for readers. I’d be able to produce a lot more books than I can now. And isn’t that what most readers want? They want their favorite authors to have more stories available. Right now, I can’t accommodate that, which is frustrating.

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About Monica Burns

A bestselling author of erotic romance, Monica Burns penned her first short romance story at the age of nine when she selected the pseudonym she uses today. From the days when she hid her stories from her sisters to her first completed full-length manuscript, she always believed in her dream despite rejections and setbacks. A workaholic wife and mother, Monica believes it’s possible for the good guy to win if they work hard enough.

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