The odd reason Pride’s Children will never be free

Text showing a Google search of a site infringing on IP by offering a free download of Pride's Children.IF YOUR BOOK HAS NEVER BEEN FREE, THE PIRATES STICK OUT

I’m not as blasé as some indies about ebook piracy. I’m not spending a lot of time and energy on something I have no control over, such as sending DMCA take-down notices to websites which post supposedly free access to millions of ebooks, mine being a small minnow in their insatiable maws.

For one thing, I don’t think I’d have any real effect.

For another, I’m not sure I want those people mad at me.

And again, I’m sure a great many of those sites, if not all, are phishing sites, and people who attempt to get a free book are sufficiently punished by having their personal information harvested.

And finally, although the greats in the indie world like Hugh Howey and Joe Konrath think that if anyone ever reads these downloads they might turn into a fan and buy your other books (or which I have none right now), I’m skeptical.

And I already offer a free ebook Review Copy to anyone who will consider writing a review (consider only – there is no way I could enforce a promise anyway), so if you want to read it, drop me a line. There’s no real need to pirate. A copy from me will just be a nice clean file (and possibly you need a format other than .mobi for Kindle, too).

Does the price of an ebook encourage pirates?

I follow Kris Rusch’s and Dean Wesley Smith’s pricing strategies. I do understand that there are some readers who have been burned, and won’t try indie work unless it is very inexpensive – in some way, that’s the cost of the new freedom to publish. It will sort itself out.

I don’t think the listed price for an ebook affects pirates at all, though. I think they just grab everything for their lists with computer algorithms, and don’t take any time to curate their selections.

The automated service to protect IP – Blasty (beta)

I’m a beta user for Blasty, a program being developed to defend your intellectual property by automating the process of identifying infringements and issuing the take-down notices for you. As far as I know, they’re still not charging beta users as they develop their program, but I’m sure it will be a service with a fee when they’ve gotten it tuned up.

But right now the process involves them showing me everywhere on the web the phrase ‘Free download PC’ appears, and asking me to click ‘Blast’ if it is infringing.

And it is super-simple for me to BLAST! when I can scan Google’s 24th page of results quickly, check the ‘free download…’ phrase, know that I have NEVER made Pride’s Children free for ebook download, and click the Blast button. I don’t have to THINK.

And, since I’m well past a thousand completed blasts, and just had to spend a while blasting another 15+ pages worth of Google results (at about ten a page), I’m grateful for shortcuts.

The furor for free is a feeding frenzy

When I homeschooled, I discovered that even caring homeschooling families had an odd quirk. I’d go to the trouble of arranging, say, a visit – FREE! – to the NJ State Museum. Families who got their registration in first got the 20 places the museum reserved for us, with a staffer to take us around and do activities with our kids. And people would simply not show up. When families could be 7 members, that left me looking like an idiot with the museum, and besmirched the name of homeschoolers, AND annoyed the heck out of people who didn’t get on the list because they took too long to respond – and could have gone.

So I started charging a small per-person registration fee – say $5 – and refunding that (essentially just returning the check to the parent) if they showed up! To an event they had signed up for and committed to. In principle.

Principle: if you have skin in the game, your commitment is real.

I think ‘free’ in indie ebooks has had its best run already. I feel people grab something free (which now doesn’t stand out much), but haven’t invested even a buck, and never get to most of what they grabbed.

Permafree – such as the first book in a series – seems to be an exception. I’ll know if I ever finish a series! That makes sense, as a ‘loss leader’ to tempt a reader to try a new author. I haven’t taken any on myself to read, so I don’t know whether it is a good tactic.

Conclusion, summary, will she ever shut up?

Thought it would be a way to introduce you to Blasty, and payment (I get a blog post out of spending the time clicking those red buttons), and a little oddity for your reading stream.

Now that I’ve started blasting – a never-ending process, it seems – I’m wondering where this is going to go. Pirates adjust their algorithms every time something new comes along, I’m sure. I’m not worried about them at this point, possibly never (if the indie greats have thought things through, with their experience, I’m good with the concept of not worrying about piracy).

But if Blasty manages to automate this process even more, so I don’t have to inspect those pages and pages of people offering free downloads of MY book, the phrase which includes ‘free download’ will be the automatic giveaway.

Because I’m not making Pride’s Children free. Ever.


Advance warning: there will be a Kindle Countdown sale the first week of October – US and UK 0.99. If you’re following, you’ll get the post which announces it.

And the offer – contact me if you want to read it for free (abehrhardt [AT] gmail) – is still open. I’d love it if you would then post a review on Amazon if you like it.

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9 thoughts on “The odd reason Pride’s Children will never be free

  1. naleta

    It looks like Blasty will save some time for an author who worries about piracy. Anything that can ease the writers mind so that they can then spend time actually writing is a GOOD THING.

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  2. Janna G. Noelle

    Blasty sounds like a clever program, but I guess you’ll never really know if the pirates comply with the request or not. It’s unfortunate. Piracy has always been around (I remember watching pirated video tapes back in the day), but it really does seem to have skyrocketed the more our various forms of media became digital (music, movies/TV, books, etc.) There also seems to have been a fundamental shift in society where some people literally feel they shouldn’t have to pay for any form of entertainment.

    As for free ebooks, I agree with your thoughts on them. For me personally, if I wasn’t particularly interested in a given book to begin with, the fact of it being free isn’t going to make me more interested in it. But then, I’m not one of those people i previously mentioned.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I did say it was an odd reason.

      As for getting all worried about piracy, I’m not sure what my attitude will be if I find someone doing that.

      There’s an odd thing happening on my Amazon seller rank, so I plan to keep an eye on it.

      I’d think they’d pirate things with a track record, and try to divert some of the sales to themselves, rather than go for newbies.

      Unless of course they’ve targeted me because the have excellent taste. Ahem!

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  3. Catana

    I’ll probably never bother with a piracy tracker. It might work well, but the pirates will always be ahead of the game. I found a couple of my books on a pirate site, thanks to an alert on Kboards, and they did take them down at my request. But I decided it wasn’t going to be worth my time and energy to keep an eye out for future thefts. But your reasoning about not setting a book free makes perfect sense. For the commercial writers who have plenty of backlist and can afford the loss on one book, as a leader, free is a good idea if it leads to more sales on the rest of the list. For those of us who write slowly and out of the mainstream, it’s just a loss. Period.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Strategies have to make business sense – and now that is solely up to the indie writer. At least you can control which options you choose.

      “it’s just a loss. Period.” is exactly right – if the strategy doesn’t work for you.

      I’ve already had my big expensive failure – I’ll use that forever to remind myself that the world is fickle, and no one is guaranteed anything.

      I wish I could go the ‘many books, fast’ route, but it isn’t going to happen for me. I just shake my head at my slowness, and keep showing up to write.

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