I really need to update more often.

Today I encountered one of the ugly sides of the digital age after I read about someone googling their book, and finding sites with redirect links offering free downloads, and leading to spam/malware, that sort of thing. Curious, I decided to google my first novel, Realm Wraith. First page of results was fairly normal; Amazon link, a link to this website, Goodreads, and a bunch of Tolkien sites because the title sounds a lot like Ring Wraith (something I didn’t consider when naming the book, haha, whoops.)

The second page, on the other hand, started getting skeevier, and I found a link to my novel on some aggregator forum that offers free downloads of eBooks. I have to say I was surprised, since I didn’t consider I was even far enough on anybody’s radar to start getting pirated. But it was, and according to the still-working mirror link, at least 23 people downloaded it. Not a high number, but that’s 23 people that didn’t think my work was worth obtaining legitimately.

It’s absurd. It’s a three dollar book that occasionally gets offered for free when I decide to do a promotional sale. There is literally no reason not to just get the book legitimately unless you are just so cheap and lazy you expect every form of content to be spoon-fed to you. I mean I know piracy is rampant. I know DRM and other anti-piracy measures some people take are so invasive and annoying it drives people to want to pirate, because they’re being punished for buying it legitimately. And I know it’s tempting and easy to download video games, music, etc. But it’s a pretty asshole thing to do to someone who’s still trying to get their footing, who doesn’t make all that many sales, who isn’t a large company pulling in millions elsewhere.

And there isn’t much I can do. People are going to pirate. I flagged the still-working download link for copyright violation (the primary link had already been disabled, thankfully,) and I notified Google of the violation in the off-chance it might at least stop the site from showing up during a search. From what I found digging around, the site has already had complaints filed against it from a variety of publishers. And even if it does get taken down, it’s like when you destroy a bug nest. The cockroaches just scatter and build them elsewhere.

But I’d still like to implore people to stop and think about what they’re doing the next time they just decide to go jumping around Google looking for free stuff. This isn’t just “I’m sticking it to the man for charging me for content!” or “Why should I put a penny of my hard-earned money towards something when it’s so easy to get it free?” This is “Hey, person who poured so much time and effort into creating content: you’re worthless.” It’s bizarrely contradictory, because if what they wanted wasn’t worthy paying for, why did they want it at all?