The world of self-publishing is a complicated and difficult one. Not that it's difficult to write a novel. It's not. Finding the time to write one, that's difficult. Getting the word out that your novel exists, that's difficult--or expensive.
In order to buy ads with the big advertisers of Indie Books, like Book Bub, you need reviews. Which is funny, because you generally have to have the book out, and being purchased, in order to get reviews.
You can cheat the system a little, by directly begging for reviews--emailing Reviewers directly and asking them to read your work. This is a little like the dinosaurian system of traditional publishing, where you Query the gatekeepers, I mean, agents, and beg them to read your work and represent you. It sucks, and it's time consuming.
I recently tried something new: a service that, for a fee, posts your book on a list for book bloggers/reviewers to see. If someone is interested, they can ask for an ARC--an Advanced Reader Copy. But you can't obligate them to read it. That goes against Amazon's review policy.
I have hesitated to spend money on something like this before. It's like an ad to give away product. But, for my latest work, I decided, what the heck--it's only $25.00.
I was surprised to get results within a couple days: eighteen potential reviewers who were interested. I emailed them all out a PDF copy, marked "REVIEW COPY" on the title page. Within eight hours, one super-reader had already posted a review on Goodreads! Amazing. I waited for more results to roll in.
Today, while conducting a Google search for potential book reviews, I came across my title: posted for free on a piracy site, "Hotebookdownload.com".
Oh, and two of the downloaders from the pirate site gave glowing micro-reviews:
"Thank you sooo much!!!!"--Blanchard
"This is one of those books that is enjoyed from beginning to end.
"Thanks for sharing!"--Steel
Yeah, thanks a whole f*cking lot, Bookmyheart. I didn't really want to sell copies of the book. I'm like one of those graffiti artists that just makes art for art's sake. No, wait--no, I'm not. I write to make money.
This is completely unacceptable. I write a very niche subgenre, and don't sell many of these. I take time away from my family to write them, and seeing my work pirated is beyond infuriating. Piracy after a book goes live is unavoidable, but before?! And from a "reviewer"?
This is the kind of thing that makes me want to throw in the towel and quit writing. I enjoy writing, telling stories, but I enjoy the company of my kids more. The whole reason I write is to earn a little extra money to spend on them. I've been doing this for five years now. I haven't sold a lot of books--at least, not since 2014. That was my best year, when book sales were high enough to buy my kids each a new laptop, take them on vacation and generally lavish them with gifts left and right. 2015, 2016, and 2017 have not been so kind. Every pirate download takes money out of my pocket. And the b*st*rds using the pirate sites don't even leave reviews on sites like Goodreads!
I've reached out to the books available-for-review site, asking for their help. I've got 18 email addresses--one of them is guilty. And, since they've posted other books, it should be easy enough to figure out who "Bookmyheart" is. If they don't cooperate, I'll have no choice but to post all eighteen names as a warning to other authors--and to post the Books available-for-review site name.
If you hate pirates as much as me, consider buying one of my books to balance the cosmic scales. I mean, my writing cant be all bad, since I am regularly pirated, right?
Ghostwalker, Spectral Ops 2, is available on Kobo, Kindle, iTunes, and Smashwords on August 7th. Or now, through virus-filled pirate sites, if you're a scumbag.