Pirates of the ebook! How vulnerable are you?

Kindle with a pirate picture being held with two hands

Is your book being pirated?

This week was an introduction to how piracy really does exist!    A fellow tweeter posted that several authors whom she recognized had books on a now defunct site called LendInk.   This site advertised ebooks that could be downloaded for free.  Totally free, and not through some Kindle Free Day.  It was stunning.   Going to the site, it appeared to be true.   This pirate firm had downloaded hundreds of books and the covers.  It was so slickly put together, that it appeared legit, even posting the actual logos  from Amazon and Kindle.

Pirating of ebooks has always been a risk in the epub market.  It is nothing new.  Bloggers, like GalleyCat have posted excellent articles on this same subject in the past.  But it is shocking when it happens to you!

Amazon Kindle was contacted and most authors received emails stating that this site LendInk did not have any electronic rights to their books.   Amazon, as large as it is, was no help however in shutting the pirate down.    Authors were advised it was up to them to file copyright infringement complaints legally.

Like wildfire, via facebook and twitter, as each author found out their book had been pirated, outrage swelled.   Texts, tweets, and facebook postings grew to thousands in protest in just hours.   The owner of the site was contacted via email and tweets, but of course did not respond.    Authors were furious to see that their hard work had been stolen.  Their small profits via ebook squashed with this free pirate on the loose.

Luckily, there is indeed strength in numbers.   The internet makes running a scam business difficult due to transparency.   After the owner ignored the pleas to remove the pirated books, a clever blogger got his personal information from GoDaddy.   Thank goodness GoDaddy for recording the ownership information for domains.   Lawyers contacted the pirate and within 24 hours, the website and the the facebook site for LendInk was demolished!

Way to go, fellow authors!    Kudos and thank you for rescuing my book, FLYING SOLO from absolute copyright pirating.    Your power and allegiance to each other whipped forth like lightening.    Powerful, momentous, and victorious.    So what is the message here?   Support your fellow author.   Reach out and connect to them.   If you promo it forward for them, they will for you, too.    Put  #sharethelove4authors on your tweets.  Connect through facebook.   Unite, share and experience the power of numbers with Indie writers bookstores, and publishers.

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50 Shades of Shock Value: how much is too much for your novel?

When it comes to shock value,  that is nothing new.   Remember Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind?   The year was 1931.   This book was banned from many stores.   Why?  All because of its last line.   Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.   Spoken with aloof, rancor by none other than Rhett Butler.   Famously played by Clark Gable in the movie version.   We were heart broken for Scarlett and wanted to scream out at Rhett,  ‘you scoundrel.’   But it hooked the readers of the world.   The sheer audacity of using a curse word in print!   Thousands of copies with damn in black and white.   And would the producers dare to put in the movie?  Hell ya!   Are you kidding?    Just the controversy over that one word drove thousands to the theater.

What has transpired, however, is an escalation in that shock value.    In the 1950s it was rock and roll and Elvis‘s shaking pelvis.   The 60s?  Twiggy and her miniskirts.   The 70s, an entire new generation was revolting against the establishment, conventionalism, and the Vietnam war.   In the 80s, can you say Madonna?  Come on.  You know you had those leg warmers, permed hair and lace tops with jean jackets.    Her latest tour is mimicking the  overtones of 50 Shades.  She is an absolute master in shock value!   In the 90s we saw the introduction of gay characters on TV.   In the millenium, we saw them kissing.    The trend to shock has been embedded within our culture for decades.

Madonna carressed in the MDNA tour

Madonna still sells salciousness at its best.

The question becomes where do you draw the line?   Sadistic sex is nothing new.  It has been around since Egyptian times.   Its participants, just discreetly hidden in the dark recesses of culture.   Is 50 Shades that great of a book?   Is it well written?  There are those that would argue ‘No.’   Then you might be asking how?  How then did it reach the NY Times best sellers list and stay there for months, selling over 500,000 copies to date?The answer is simple.  Shock value.  For the first time, the lunching ladies of middle America were reading a salcious story about sadistic sex.    From one of their own.    Tabu was taken mainstream.   It was so shocking, they found themselves embarrassed while reading.  Yet, unable to stop.  How naughty would it get?   What was the outcome?    Not to pay the book more undue homage; but from a marketing standpoint, a writer salivates with envy.

The concern?  How far must one go?   How dark, and twisted must the shock value be to capture the attention of today’s society?   Remember, it isn’t all about shock value.  It is about a good story.    Nicholas Sparks is hugely successful.    His first book, The Notebook has now sold close to a million copies.   It is rated G.    Your grandmother could read and probably has read this story.    A good book is based on a great story, tightly written with well developed characters that generate emotion by what happens to them.

The message here?   Sure, shock value sells.  But don’t sell out the quality of your story just to outdo.  Quality is job one!

The dreaded M word . . . .

Talking about FLYING SOLO

Talking, talking, talking FLYING SOLO

The dreaded M word for most authors is marketing. Marketing, marketing, marketing! And I don’t mean the cute Mother Goose tune about “taking a pig, giggety gig.” Some authors believe that the hardest job is the writing. The writing is easy. Great marketing can make your book into a NYT best seller. Poor marketing can relegate even the most well written book into oblivious resale shops. Marketing is not something that is taught by the publishing houses.   It is encouraged, but not taught.   If you are self published your book will remain unknown unless you are a marketing champion.  If you hire a publicist, make sure they are savvy about today’s book market.   Gone are the days when 20,000 copies will sell themselves.   But don’t shy away, one can learn to market.   You must embrace it with shameless self promotion.   Babble about your book.   Let’s break it down with some tips to make it easier:
M   Make the most of every opportunity to talk about your book.  Don’t shy away.  Tweets, blogging, and facebook are all your friends.

A   Advocate for your book.   Whenever you around anyone, have fliers, business cards of your book, and information to readily hand out.  Make it easy for people to find and read your book.

R  Research, research, research.   Look at the type of customer who seems to be attracted to your book and zero in on where you can find those people.  Bookclubs, meetups, church groups.   Find where they are hanging out and plan to be there.  Consider public speaking.   Dave Lieber the Yankee Cowboy is the champion on this.  There are online communities like Createspace and forums, like Indie Publishers in your own towns to discuss these topics for authors.

K Kismet.  Sometimes the starts align and put you in the right place at the right time to meet a person who loved reading your book and writes a great review.    Not all the best reviews are paid for!    Many are free.  Look for Amazon top reviewers.

book signing FLYING SOLO

Book Signing at ARealBookStore May 2012

E Educate yourself on how to go about self promotion.  Dont’ shy away from the experiences of other authors.   Take a few workshops on book promotion through meetup groups.  Read, read, read the outstanding free publications all over the internet.   A great example of that is Author Media.  Learn the trick of the trade on how to link your tweets, blog posts, and facebook postings to make them synergistically bring in more followers and fans.

T Take the time to learn the ins and outs.   Be patient.  Start a momentum and build it.  There are no secret tricks to marketing.   Be ready to learn from what works and what doesn’t.   Collect ideas and test them to see what gets the best bang for you buck.   You don’t have to spend all the profits from your books on paid services to market.   Great quote from one author, “make sure you get some promo copies of your book into the hands of the reader.   Remember your slogan is not ‘buy my book’ but read my book.   Word of mouth in this business is everything!   One reader who share with another and another and another.   Best example of this, The Help.

So, don’t get frustrated or have a panic attack when someone in the industry asks you about your marketing plan. Follow the tips here, make yourself a list of activities and like NIKE says. . . . just do it!