Two days ago, I learned that a reader of my Leigh M. Lane novel World-Mart had uploaded the novel to two different file-sharing sites. Moreover, this person had the audacity to advertise the offending files on a message board designed specifically for pirated books. Of course, Google alerted me to this almost immediately, and I’ve taken appropriate action, but enough damage has already been done.
As a writer, it is my mission to enrich others’ lives through my words. I take great delight in knowing my work has touched a certain percentage of my readers. To learn that someone has enjoyed what I’ve written brings me joy nearly unparalleled on any other front. To learn that one of those people has betrayed me so intimately, as to strive for a moment of heroism on a pirating site with the sharing of my work—so painstakingly pieced together word by word—leaves me despondent and empty. They say a person knows he or she has “made it” once their work has appeared on a pirating site, but that is little consolation. I have been betrayed by one of my readers, by someone who enjoyed my work and chose—instead of leaving a positive review on Goodreads and Amazon and sharing buy links with his or her social network—to share my work as if it were his or her own.
These books belong to me. I wrote them. I gave up a piece of my soul and hundreds of hours of my time to transform them from ideas into something tangible, and they are no one else’s to distribute. I already make peanuts off my many works, despite my firm desire to find a way to turn this into a respectable living. When people share my work without my permission or that of my publishers among others who have no intention of paying for the hours of enrichment and pleasure said work has to offer, it is nothing short of a slap in the face.
The feeling is bittersweet. I am glad that my writing had been deemed good enough to share with others. On the same token, I’m pissed. I’m pissed that these same people feel that I’m good enough to read and share, but not good enough to promote on a legitimate basis. I’m pissed that someone feels the need to work vicariously through me, to play hero for the day, by offering my books for free to his or her friends. I must ask the person in question: Was it worth it?
Good readers out there, please take heed: writing a book worth reading is no easy task. It takes blood, sweat, and tears to create. When you pirate such a book, you demean not only the work, but the person behind it. You are a thief. You are the reason people like me cannot live off writing alone. I am an artist. I was placed on this earth to write, to create, to enhance and deepen others’ lives through my words. Take it for whatever it’s worth, but do not belittle my efforts by sharing them as if you had the right.