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Unauthorised Free Downloads

Sainte Bastien

Hello Maverick House followers and thank you for your support and feedback, it’s always appreciated. Writing is an otherwise lonely profession, so it’s good to connect with you all. I hope this finds everyone safe and well during the strange and difficult pandemic restrictions.

You might think it’s made for authors, who famously are locked away at home writing the next blockbuster, but that’s not always the case. Like all professionals at the moment, I know from my position as Chairman of the Irish Writers Union that many authors are struggling. A lot like to go out to libraries or cafes to write, so working from home isn’t easy. Some have other family members now working from home, too, and competing for that quiet space!

Only 6% of authors globally earn a full-time living from their books, so the usual income streams such as teaching creative writing, hosting panels, holding workshops and appearing at festivals or book-signings have been curtailed. Book sales have also fallen, as bookstores remain closed. We so appreciate your continued support when shopping online.

It’s appropriate that I’m using some of my Lockdown time to finish my next novel, Grey Motive. It may be fiction, but it draws more than a little from my own experiences in the horseracing world and a real-life mystery surrounding a betting office I once worked in. Until now the heroes of my books have had to fend for themselves and solve their own, very major, problems, but in Grey Motive I have enlisted the expertise of two fictional detectives to investigate the disappearance of a substantial amount of money.

I’ve really taken to DI de Freitas and DS McCulloch and enjoy having them with me here in confinement. The more of their story I write, the more alive and solid they become. I only wish they could help me in real life, as right now authors across the world are in need of their services. Well-meaning but misguided fraudsters are using the pandemic as an excuse to offer free downloads of books, which amounts to theft. They profit by selling advertising space on their website.

Everyone is paid for their work. In factories, workers are paid for the number of items they produce. Artists sell the work of art they have completed. Craftsmen sell their finished product. It’s how the world earns its living. Sadly, free book downloads are stealing income from authors. We don’t receive lump sums in advance of our book, we are paid a percentage of the cover price for each individual book sold. Typically, this is around 7%, so just 70ct for every €10 book. The book may have taken a year or two to write, but the income it generates will not arrive until after its first year of sales. Very few books sell above 6,000 copies and most don’t reach 3,000 sales.

Unauthorised free book downloads make a severe dent in our livelihood and the more time we spend on subsidising our income, the less time we have for writing books. Ultimately this affects you, our readers. I might add that the publisher of a book makes even less than the author and if publishers go out of business, we all suffer. As a writer, I would continue to write for the sheer joy and pleasure of the pastime, but as a keen reader I would be devastated to lose the range of books currently available to me.

So please be warned of the threat of unauthorised free downloads from major websites. If it is not the publisher’s own website, or that of the author, then please don’t support the flagrant theft of work.


Posted by John on 17th May 2020