Why you help authors (and the world at large) by downloading illegal ebooks

OMFG! (Outcries of anger and dread:)

“Ebooks! The Death Of Writers And Their Honest Earnings!”

“YOU SHOULD NOT DOWNLOAD ILLEGAL BOOKS!”

Because:

  1. It is robbing those poor writers from the last slices of bread. From their hungry mouths!
  2. “Each download is one unsold book”

Let me flip things around.

Download the shit out of everything

Go. Do it. Bookza.org is an awesome source for German books and books in many other languages.

You will not kill art. Nor will you kill creativity.

You will piss off people who went into the craft of writing with the bullshit illusion they could get rich or at least earn a keep.

You will sadden the writers who think appreciation can only be expressed in money and who think you are the ones who are fucking them over, because you moved on and they did not.

Here is your real “crime”:

You mostly help push an already dead industry over the edge so we can use that new space to create something more appropriate to 2014.

Old School Publishing is a dishonest, rotting corpse

It has been dead for a long time.

Let me point out to you the very obvious everyone chooses to ignore:

Any book-contract lower than 20.000 euro is a scam

Most publishing houses will offer you 2500 Euro for the rights and as an “advance” to your sales. Because of reasons.

Most given reason: “The market is not big enough for your work”

This bullshit fee means that:

  1. Your work is nearly done for free by you in all these weeks and months you are writing and correcting and rewriting your work

It is also a very clear signal from your publisher that:

  1. Your book will probably not sell (or that they have no fucking clue HOW to sell you), otherwise you would have been offered more.

To clarify this second point: any professional in the freelance-market is paid per hour and within the creative branch the hourly fee is between 50 to 100 euro depending on what you do. This is BEFORE ACTUAL SALES and TO GET THE JOB DONE. We talk i.e. about writers, graphic designers, illustrators und programmers.

You are considered to be a total idiot if you accept contracts like those offered to writers. And sure this is for ideas developed by others. But what is the real difference here? Someone came up with that idea.

Why do writers accept?

What alternatives are there after months of hard work on your manuscript? Really?

Who else will offer you the money and/or the platform?

Who else will produce and distribute your book?

Why are you offered less?

Because the economic model is broken. Publishing houses are unable to produce the revenue per writer that they should be producing (per writer).

It is like your boss offering you 700 euro per month for a full-time job that should pay at least 1800 Euro because the company is hardly selling their services or products.

In other words: you are part of a hobby. You work in a shop nobody is visiting. You are not part of a real company.

The sad thing is:

Self-publishing is more honest

They will help you produce your book, help edit it and help getting it on paper (or as e-book).

In the end you will have your beloved book, you will be able to call yourself a writer and put that milestone down as “dream X accomplished”.

Many classic publishing houses hardly do more. The main difference is that they and not you pay for the production, but with many authors getting stuck at 500 to 1000 book sales, the sales results of these classic book publishers is hardly much more than that of any vanity press.

Most classic publishing houses are idiots

The only trick classic publishing houses know really to play well is not to pay you what you should earn.

Selling books? Earning money from what their writers produce? No fucking clue.

Let them die

So let those publishing houses die. Download the shit. Get all those cracked and scanned books. Crack and scan them yourself.

Push the publishing houses over the cliff. Watch them fall and maybe even burn.

But Zabor Takataka! Then what?

Money flows.

Artists produce.

Readers continue to exist

Books continue to become outdated due to their style and content.

1: Distribution y’all!

This is the age of distribution. One file can be multiplied and spread endlessly without wearing out, without loss of quality.

2: Play the Numbers-game

Distribution is the new advertisement. Instead of wasting shitloads of money on a tiny postcard with “BOOK TITLE! AUTHOR NAME! NOW IN STORES ELSEWHERE!” you give people free samples of your work.

The more people you reach, the more goodwill you can build. Taken that:

Your work has QUALITY — Meaning:

  1. It speaks to people.
  2. It makes them sit up and long for more.
  3. It makes them remember you, look you up online, maybe even ask for friendship on whatever platform is out there.

3: Harvest your reach

A big audience equals money. As you reach your numbers and as those numbers grow, you can start harvesting. People are willing to pay. Hell, they are USED to the fact that things cost money. A coffee? 1 to 4 euro in Germany, depending where you buy it.

So how can you make some of that money flow towards you?

  1. Sell other stuff — The real money in Star Wars and all television series created by Bandai (Japan) is in merchandise. Where the movie-tickets are sold for 10 euro and television rights for lump-sums of 100.000 euro or more reaching millions of viewers, the T-shirts, scale models and other plastic crap sold for multitudes of that in price ranges from 15 to 150 euro per customer.
  2. Ask for donations — What else do you think magazine and newspaper subscriptions are? Or donations to a good cause? Why do you think people do this? Because they do not give a shit about money? Or because they care about the cause or want to receive more?
  3. Do things for- and with other people — Organize events if that is your thing. Perform. Read. Ask money. (Going rates: 60 to 160 euro per hour)

But this will never work because–

Mostly because you never did it, or do not know how, or you still think the old bullshit-models for publishing are better than nothing.

A look at the very probable future of publishing

As old publishing will die (before probably turning the Internet into a fascist state with police checking all your files and reading your e-mails as there might be illegally copied books smuggled and hidden in there), here is what I think will happen and change:

  1. New professionals — Understanding how to:
    1. Build a strong brand — People will recognize and look for
    2. Reach a wide audience — So the numbers-game can start working
    3. Curate a wonderful collection of books — That people want more of
    4. Build trust with the audience — Meaning i.e. that anything that will be published anew will be worth downloading as well
    5. Monetize the reach — Selling additional goods, asking donations
    6. Reward the creative — By paying up-front, paying what the author’s time is really worth (20.000 and more for a novel, when it is sellable)
  2. New ways to earn money — Using old models. For instance (and repeating):
    1. Donations — From loyal customers and sponsors, reaching from 10 euro per year to 10 euro per month and using means like automatic payments
    2. Collaborations — A book is not just a book. A book is a world put into words. From that world of words you can create concrete objects and concrete projects.
    3. Selling merchandise — Like spin-off products that have personal value for the buyers.
  3. Doing it yourself — Getting there, experimenting with form. Reach some people with your own strength

For the writers

You feel discouraged by people NOT buying your books? How much did you think to earn to begin with? Enough to stop working? Get real.

“But what about appreciation for my work?” Now that is a good question. Go and ask your downloaders: “What did you think of my work? Did you like it?” If they say: “It sucked” and they are representative for the readers you see as your target audience, ask: “What could I have been done better?” Then improve your work. Go ask your publisher: “Why the fuck did you not pay me more? Or made more of an effort to sell me?”

If your readers and downloaders say: “It was awesome!” say “Thank you!” and become online friends immediately.

If you want to earn money from writing: see above.

Here is the real reality: Publishers fucked up your market and your opportunities long before downloaders did. 

Closing

You can stop progress by pulling the plug and crippling the instruments we have.

Classic DRM? As solid and safe as a paper bag in a cardboard box.

Social DRM? Easy to obfuscate and sabotage once you understand how it is done.

Adding Governmental spyware on your computer? Just another open door in your firewall.

Having official organizations “protect the interests of the authors and creators”? Most of them are as reliable and fraud-free as any other crime cartel (investigate the way they deal with payments to ‘their’ authors, how much money is earned by the management and you get some idea).

Threaten people with obscene fines? Only appropriate when you live in a dictatorship.

If you can’t adapt, you die

These are the new times. And like with any and all new times: if you can not adapt, you will die.

So let them die. Let them crash and burn. We will create new models. And some of us will make that those models are fair as they should be. As we come from a background where you get paid for each and every hour you worked on the product someone else is selling.

And for all publishing houses sitting on the tip of that rock, fearing the moment the water will swallow you? Tough luck. Hope your death will be mild.

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