Don’t Panic!

Writers blog: Stardate: 07.06.2013

Part 1:

Because of the timing of the competition that shall not be named run by the organisation that shall remain nameless that I failed to make an impression upon, last week’s blog-post was given over to clearing the ground for my subsequent face-planting.

But I had other news. Shocking news. What I really wanted to write about last week was my discovery and consequent reaction to learning that one of my books had been pirated and was available for download on the Internet. Really. Don’t believe me?

I remember that when I stopped screaming, got my reptilian brain under control and my mind rationally processing the information and the consequences of my work being pirated (I would potentially never earn another penny out of the Romney and Marsh Files. Why would anyone buy them if they could download them for free?!) I almost had a stroke (apologies to anyone who was just offended. Please don’t lecture me on how truly horrible and debilitating a stroke really is. I know. It’s just a figure of speech.)

It was really a worrying fifteen minutes. A bit like reading about the cause of Michael Douglas’ throat cancer. I shudder to think some of the places that man has had his tongue.

I first learned of the situation when I noticed that had started giving away Making a Killing for free again in their price-matching way of doing things. I don’t want Making a Killing or Joint Enterprise being given away for free. I’m giving away Rope Enough as it is.

Amazon would only price-match to zero if they’d been advised by a customer that the book was available for download elsewhere for free. So I searched the Internet. And found ALL my books available for download on sites that I had no knowledge of. It was about this time that my stomach felt the way it did an hour after I consumed 3kg of cherries in thirty minutes.

Everyone knows that you’ve got two hopes of getting stuff taken down from the Internet that was put up in a country that was once part of the USSR – Bob Hope and No Hope. I was a worried man.

I emailed the service provider and asked them to take it down. I emailed Amazon begging them to ignore it – it’s piracy, I said. Amazon wrote back quickly and said it’s not; it’s Sony. What? Sony? Punch in Sony ebooks author name Oliver Tidy and sure enough all three Romney and Marsh Files available for free download. I was incandescent. How the fuck? Who the fuck? When the fuck? Why the fuck? Smashwords. It must be. Smashwords didn’t tell Sony to remove MAK and JE from their catalogue when I ‘unpublished’ them from Smashwords all those weeks ago and a reader has only just noticed and notified Amazon. And then, oh shit, if someone does the same with Joint Enterprise then suddenly all my books are being given away for free by Amazon and on top of that Amazon will rap me over the knuckles because MAK is in the KDP programme and it’s not supposed to be available for download anywhere else. It would be a violation of T&C. I could go to prison. I could be colour-listed. Or I could email Smashwords.

Good news – everyone was really quick, helpful and efficient about it. Amazon acted quickly and replied promptly with friendly, helpful emails. Smashwords sorted it quickly and were friendly. Sony removed the books without much delay. Even that service provider took down that website within forty-eight hours. I was pretty impressed all round.

My prices reverted back to what they were. I’d given away over two-hundred copies of MAK, but funnily enough it gave a bit of a boost to downloads of the other two titles.

What about the other pirated copies being offered on the web? I hear you ask. Well, when it all kicked off I smartly checked out the Amazon forums. Another useful resource. The consensus of opinion there was, don’t worry about it. Generally this kind of pirating is just a scam to get people to part with their credit card details. And when I went back to where the books were still available, sure enough one had to sign up, log in, provide this and that information. I don’t think that I have anything to worry about. And like they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. You know what I mean.

Part 2:

Still working hard on the two Acer Sansom novels. I have some help for these and it’s all taking a little longer because of it. Good job too. If I’d sent them out when I thought that they were ready I would inevitably have had to suffer the similar valid criticisms that I have for the R&M Files regarding punkchuation, gramer and speelling errorz. I know that the books will be worth the extra wait. I haven’t had anyone asking after them, but should there be any readers keeping an eye out for publication my apologies for the delay. Other than that I can only crave your understanding.

6 thoughts on “Don’t Panic!

  1. I’ve read all three of the R&M Files and I’m a huge fan. Keep up the good work. On to the topic of piracy, its an issue we all face, I’m a PhD student and even my work has been pirated in other academic work – almost word for word! Initially like you, I was very angry, but after a period of time I’ve calmed down and thought about it; is my work that good that people want to pirate it? – not too sure of the answer. Like you I found it very easy to have all plagiarised work retracted, however the inconvenience and time spent is time I’ll never get back.

    I guess my thoughts are, that as your work becomes more well known, and fans like me try to encourage others to read their may very well come a time where your work will be pirated. I’ve always said to myself, only a true reader would buy a book – why download it for free? support the author and shell out a few pounds. However after saying all that I’m a little pissed off that someone could stoop so low as to email Amazon to let them know they’ve found your work for free else where and then to get them to drop the price! Some people will do anything to get something for free!

    Keep up the good work!

    • Hi Dan,
      Thanks for the comment and the purchases of the R&M Files. All much appreciated. Glad that you enjoyed them.
      I agree, that time that I spent sorting it all out has gone and I’ll never get it back. Seriously irritating.
      I must admit to an uncharitable thought with whoever ‘grassed’ on me to Amazon. But I suppose that I can’t have it both ways. I wanted someone to notify Amazon about ‘Rope Enough’ being free because being a free download was an opportunity to attract readers. I waited months for that.
      All’s well that ends well, eh?
      What’s the PhD in? Best of luck with it.
      Thanks again, Oliver

      • I am debating if the person who “grassed” you up was just out to get something for free. Hopefully for the period that the books were listed as a “Free Download” you’ve got a few extra fans! Everything is going well, 19C here in the glorious Manchester. The PhD is focusing on Computer Vision and Physical Rehabilitation Assessment – simply put, quantifying accurately the progress of the patient during rehabilitation doesn’t sound very exciting, but it is for me.

      • Every cloud and all that.
        19C sounds positively tropical for Manchester. I’d swap it for the humidity of Istanbul this week. Crippling and it’s only just June.
        I’m a bit like Grimes when it comes to academic subjects. I’m sure you can figure that comparison out. Cheers.

  2. I had an Amazon price match issue with my trade paperback, someone with an Amazon storefront was selling a new copy for $5.99, which made Amazon drop their price from $9.99 to $8.99. It turned out that the man who ran the storefront bought one of the copies that I had sent out as a GoodReads giveaway.

    I asked the owner of the storefront to take it down, and he did, but Amazon hasn’t raised their paperback price yet.

    • I saw your post about that. The guy who runs the store restored a bit of your faith in Mankind, I hope. Amazon took a couple of days for me. In my experience they always get there…eventually.

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