I did a search for Spirit today on Google to see how it would come up. Most of the entries looked normal, except for one that was offering the book as a PDF / Word download. Since the book is on Amazon as a Kindle download or a print copy, I knew it was a pirate site. Now, I’m not naive. I was around when Naspter was the hottest thing on Earth and work in the IT industry, so I know piracy exists.
I expected the day I would find Spirit on one of those sites. What I wasn’t prepared for was how pissed I would feel about it.
From the writer’s perspective, writing isn’t a matter of sitting down and whipping something out in a few hours or a day. It’s journey that takes months, years, and, in my case, decades. Life gets in the way, so does the intense feeling that the manuscript has to be decent, if not perfect, before it goes anywhere. Then when leaves the writer’s hands and comes back, flaws appear in that perfection, so they have to be dealt with. Once they are, the book appears in the printed/electronic world. That’s where the real battle begins. It’s up against a slew of other books fighting for limited shelf space and attention spans.
Marketing requires an investment of money and time. The effort may or may not lead to sales. If it does, great, but looking at the amount made vs the expenditures, a normal author’s pay is fractions of pennies per hour. If it doesn’t, then the author is left throwing more time and money at the situation until they have to move on to the next book, planning on doing something—anything—different so that maybe it will have the chance to be successful. Or worse, giving up completely because they have this general sense that something more productive with a better return on investment can be done with the same amount of capital.
For the readers, the freebie can turn into a nightmare. To get the book, they have to download a special reader or other piece of software. The software can play havoc with the reader’s computer from the simplest thing of annoying ads to the more vicious of a virus that enslaves the computer to a hacker’s control or, worse yet, steals personal data. Let’s not forget the worms that wipe hard drives and leave computers unusable.
So no, books are not free unless they are listed that way on legitimate sites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Smashwords. And even when they are, they aren’t because of the heart, sweat, and soul left behind by the writer in every single word.
Next time you read a book, think about who is behind it and demonstrate your thanks by leaving them a review or a virtual pat on the back on their website or social media feed. It will be greatly appreciated.