Tag Archives: independent authors

Copyright Infringement: A Warning to all Authors

I would like to share a letter sent to me by a fellow independent author, who wishes to remain anonymous, about a website claiming to be promoting independent authors, when in reality it appears that they are offering free downloads of the work of dozens of us.

If you are an author, independent or otherwise, I urge you to read this letter and investigate the site yourself. Find out if your work is posted there and take appropriate action to have it removed, or, at the very least, make sure you are willing to grant permission to the site owners to list your work.

Making money as an independent author is difficult enough without pirating sites giving our work away under false pretenses AND without our permission.

Please share, tweet or reblog this post in order to spread the word through the independent author community and, hopefully, put some pressure on these people to do the right thing.

The letter is posted here, verbatim:

Dear Authors of Published eBooks,

You may have been made aware recently of a site – http://www.general-ebooks.com/ – that is purporting to promote Authors by allowing readers to download eBooks FREE. All these eBooks are available to purchase through Amazon. So for every free download on this site we are being denied rightful payment for our creative work.

The site did list a button that allowed Authors to “Report Copyright Violation” and stated a reply would be received within 72 hours. I reported both my books as having been infringed upon and received no response whatsoever from the site. Now, six days later, my IP seems to have been blocked as I can no longer access either my own books’ pages or the site home page. Yet friends tell me my books are still listed, although there is no longer a “Free Download” option available.

The thing is that I DO NOT WANT MY NAME NOR MY eBOOKS ASSOCIATED WITH THIS SITE AT ALL!! Even if they are directing readers to Amazon to purchase my eBooks. Yet I cannot get these listings removed.

I do not believe this is a legitimate promotional site. To begin with, why would they have listed a “Report Copyright Violation” button in the first place, if they didn’t think there would be infringement issues? And why would they also put the onus on each copyright holder to prove unequivocally that they do actually hold the rights, making us jump through hoops to report these violations – especially when the site has no intention of ever delisting our books. I mean, this is ridiculous! Just look at what they expect from us when we do wish to report a violation: http://www.general-world.com/dmca It’s as though we are the guilty party and must prove our innocence to them!

Why could they not have sought our permission first in order to promote our books – as I do with all the Authors for whom I offer free promotion on my own site? If they had been a legitimate site, they would have done so. (And, please note, I do not profit monetarily from these listings on my site, unlike General eBooks expects to do with our listings on theirs.)

Instead, they are fighting with the Authors – on Twitter https://twitter.com/General_EBooks/with_replies – who have made complaints about them. Methinks they doth protest too much! I don’t know about you, but when I read through these conversations the site has conducted in public on social media with Authors who are simply voicing their own concerns about the theft of what rightfully belongs to them, I am more likely to believe the site is hiding something and that this is indeed a situation of piracy. One friend suggested it could be just a “phishing” scheme gathering email addresses of those of us who complain – but I do think there is more behind this site than just that.

I’m writing this letter now to all Authors in the hope that you will take the threat to your own intellectual property seriously. Please check out your own books on this site and, if like me you do not wish to have your work listed and associated with them, write to the site and make a complaint. Then check out titles by your friends and colleagues and also make these Authors aware of this site and it’s continuing violation of our rights.

And if you have either technical or legal expertise in the areas of online piracy and copyright infringment, I hope that you will help ALL authors protect not only what is rightfully theirs, but also what most have worked long and hard to create in the first place. As one colleague put it, “It’s difficult enough for an author to make money from a book without having to deal with this kind of aggravation.”

So please, do what you can to spread the word about this site and any others like it that are taking away what little we do make from our work. Please share this letter and write letters and blog posts of your own.

STOP COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT!!

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JK Rowling Has Every Right to Enjoy Her Celebrity Status

Recently a woman named Lynn Shepherd wrote an article for the Huffington Post entitled “If JK Rowling Cares About Writing She Should Stop Doing It.

JK Rowling

One might think, judging by the article’s title, that it is a shred fest on Ms. Rowling’s abilities as a writer, but it isn’t…at least not in the strict sense. I’m sure the title was carefully crafted for its potential to go viral more than anything else.

Be that as it may, Ms. Shepherd’s main point is more about JK’s “star power” than her writing ability. She (Shepherd) even admits to never having read any of Rowling’s books or seeing any of the films (she doesn’t say whether she’s been to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando or not).

potter

After her introductory paragraph, where she attempts to rationalize the title, and the second paragraph which is a confession of non-participation in the world of Rowling, she proceeds to complain about how the attachment of the Rowling moniker to a book seems to instantly drive sales into the stratosphere.

While her claim is true, I can’t say that I agree with her issue.

Basically she claims that Rowling’s celebrity assures her success in any future endeavors and that she has made it that much more difficult for other unknown authors (like me) to catch a break and be the next rags-to-riches story.

Okay – before I tell you why I disagree with Shepherd, let me say this…

It is true that the novel The Cuckoo’s Calling, which was originally released under a pseudonym, was not breaking any sales records until it was re-released with JK’s name on it. The same can be said for The Casual Vacancy. After the name was changed the sales soared thanks to Rowling’s reputation – a matter that doesn’t sit well with Shepherd, who insists that it was obviously not due to the quality of the work – even though she has never read it.

cuckoos calling

As an independent author who is only minutes away from mega-stardom, I can honestly say that I totally disagree with Shepherd’s complaints – even though my sales numbers are not exactly getting me invited to black-tie events or providing me with red carpet photo ops.

Why?

Because Rowling earned every bit of her celebrity status and how she chooses to use it, or not use it, is entirely up to her.

Any complaints about it are sour grapes at best…

For all we know the name game may not have been her idea. I can picture a commission-based agent demanding it in order to finance his new boat.

I know quite a few indie authors, but I can’t think of one, off the top of my head, who would complain about having half the name recognition as Rowling…or King…or Grisham…or Patterson.

Hell – I’d settle for being as well-known as Richard Castle and he’s not even real!

castle

The point is this…it is the goal of almost all authors to reach that point in our career where we can sell our grocery list for six-figures…that’s the name of the game.

The thing that is wrong – is for those of us who haven’t made it yet to have contempt for the success of somebody who, before becoming famous, was living in her car.

 

As always – thank you for reading

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How NOT to Build Your On-Line Following

Last week on my radio show (Friday Night Writes, co-hosted by Armand Rosamilia) we discussed two separate topics which I’m going to fuse into one for the purposes of this blog post.

cover4

The two topics were Twitter Tips for Authors and Authors Should View Each Other as Teammates Rather Than Competition.

I’ve been on Twitter since 2010, but I really didn’t start using it regularly until 2012 when Armand gave me a crash course – so I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an expert.

However…

There is one thing about Twitter that is, to me anyway, common sense. It also applies to Facebook, Pinterest, Blogging, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.

It Doesn’t Cost You Anything to Follow Back.

Seriously.

As Independent Authors, we rely on social media to expand our audience and reach out to potential readers. Unfortunately some authors treat it like a competition…like we are all fighting over that one reader.

On a typical day I will follow anywhere from 10 to 50 new people. Many of them are other authors, but not all. Generally, about 75% of the people I follow will return the courtesy and follow me back. Most of the people who don’t are usually large entities who can’t possibly follow every one of their followers.

twitter followers

For example, this morning I followed the Library of Congress (@librarycongress). They have over 550,000 followers, yet they only follow 7, and 3 of those are other branches of the LoC.

I truly don’t expect a return follow from them.

At the same time that I followed the LoC, I also followed several other people, and within 2 hours almost all of them had followed me back.

There were 3 (all Independent Authors) who sent me direct messages.

The messages were worded differently, but all said basically the same thing…

Thank you for following me, let’s connect on Facebook too.

message

Okay. No problem.

I’m all about the networking…

I proceeded to click the link they so thoughtfully provided to their facebook fan page and give it a like.

I then tried to send a reply to them saying I had connected with them on facebook, and I also provided them with a link to my facebook fan page.

I hit send and got a red flag saying I was not allowed to send a direct message to this person because they do not follow me.

This happened for all three of them.

message2

You took the time to send me a message asking me to like your facebook page, but you can’t follow me back?

So guess what I did.

That’s right. I unfollowed them.

 

This is the way I see it…

You are an Independent Author…I am an Independent Author and we are both trying to succeed in a pursuit where the odds are decidedly against us.

I can’t speak to your reasons for not wanting to follow another author, but I can give you my reasons for doing it…

Authors read too…yeah, that’s right – not only are we writers – we are also readers. So every time you don’t return a follow you have alienated both a colleague and a potential reader.

Authors have readers…think about it – establishing a two-way connection with other authors opens the door to attracting some of their followers.

You might learn something…at the absolute minimum; you should view connecting with other authors as a chance to learn something new and helpful. None of us know it all, but all of us know something.

 

Being an Independent Author is not for the timid. It’s long hours and hard work for very little money. On a dollar-per-hour basis, we’d probably do better flipping burgers.

Doesn’t it make more sense to work as a team, rather than trying to fly solo?

If we all help each other we all win.

People buy lots of books. I know people who read as many as five books a week. It’s not like buying a car or a house…we are not salespeople competing for that one buyer’s money.

book salesman

So when another author follows you on Twitter (or any social media platform), take a few seconds to follow them back…it costs you nothing and you’re helping all of us.

 

As always – thank you for reading

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Write a Review — Independent Authors Everywhere Will Thank You

I received the following message from a reader last week;

Hi Tim, Finished Unfinished Business. Wow! It is so different from your other books, but it is a subject that I am very interested in. Loved it!!

Unfinished Business will be released in June, 2013

If you ask any writer they will all tell you the same thing…We absolutely LOVE getting messages like this. Who wouldn’t?

I know it’s a cliché, but this is arguably* why we write (click here for an alternate take on this topic). It’s hard to explain the feeling you get when somebody tells you that they truly enjoyed something you created.

However…

Yes, there is a but – isn’t there ALWAYS a but?

As much as we love to hear from you about how you enjoy our work, there is something you could do for us that is just as good, and in a way even better…

Have you ever been to a business and seen a sign that reads;

“If you don’t like our service, tell us…If you do, tell somebody else.”

It’s the same for Independent Authors…

We don’t have an advertising budget. Very few of us have a public relations manager and you won’t see many of us doing the talk show circuit.

We rely on word of mouth.

YOU are our advertising campaign.

A simple post on facebook, twitter, pinterest, google+ or whatever your social media of choice happens to be would help immensely!

A review on Amazon and/or Goodreads is practically invaluable.

If you have a blog, write about it there and even ask the author for some thoughts, very few of us will decline an interview.

I’ve asked people to put a review on Amazon before and many of them think they have to be Siskel and Ebert – writing long, complicated interpretations of the book.

No. A review like this is more than enough…

LTD review

You see that message at the top of this post? That message would make a great review – except for the “Hi Tim” part….

Anything that will give other readers an idea of what you thought of the book.

And contrary to what some people think – you CAN post a review on Amazon even if you didn’t purchase the book there.

So the next time you enjoy one of my books, or a book written by any Independent Author, take five minutes to share your thoughts with other readers – you’ll be doing them, as well as us a great service.

write a review

As always – thank you for reading

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