Are My Reviews Buried in a Pirate’s Chest?
It doesn’t matter where you are in your marketing adventure, you’re probably concerned about pirating. Most of my time is spent writing and thinking about my self publishing goals and how to better work on my marketing strategy. I never really thought about pirating of my work until my publisher started talking about it. So, I looked into it to find, honestly, there’s not a lot you can do.
***It should be noted here that a lot of pirating sites really aren’t about offering free content and more about stealing information. You can’t really expect a website that offers stolen merchandise to really be ethical when it comes to your personal information, can you?
The main concern I see here is with publishers and self-publishers trying to get reviews. Let’s face it, reviews are important. A review can help sway a customer that’s on the fence about buying your book. Without a certain number of reviews and average rating some ad companies won’t let you run ads with them. The problem is, a lot of pirating happens when you’re giving out review copies willy nilly.
You can’t stop pirating, BUT!
Some quick things to point out when it comes to pirating: most pirating happens when the company/author gives out PDF files of their work. For whatever reason, these files are much easier to convert into epub and mobi files that will allow them to be stolen and given for free to people. It has been suggested that you only give out mobi or epub files as a way around it. Issue there? You’re still giving out a mobi or epub file that can be uploaded to a pirate site. So what should you do? Not much at all, but there are some tips.
- Set up google alerts to tell you when your name is mentioned online
- Invest some time in a controlled list of reviewers
- Build a cease and desist letter so if you find your book being given away without your consent, you can send the letter to the website.
I found this article online while I was researching, and it has a lot of good tips in it, as well as a cease and desist letter. Be proactive about protecting your work. If you’re worried about pirating (some people are, some people aren’t) then there are things you can do to combat it.
Pirating and Google Alerts
So you want to keep better track of your name and titles online. That’s great. Google Alerts can really help you there. Besides letting you know about certain legal issues, it can also tell you about blog reviews you knew nothing about, so you can thank those people and share their review! As a side note, when using Google Alerts, you want to make sure you are only getting results for your book (or similar searches). How do you do this? A trick I learned when working with AdWords. I could simply type in Travis Simmons as an alert, but I would likely get alerted anytime there was a post on “Travis” or “Simmons.” Similarly, “The Bonds of Blood” would give me alerts whenever “Bonds” or “Blood” was used. To get a better targeted result, add “+” before important words. “The +Bonds of +Blood” or “+Travis +Simmons.” This way I will only get results when a post includes all of the “+” words. It still might not be for my work, but at least it helps cut down a lot!
It is almost impossible to imagine a publisher keeping on top of all of their titles and all of their authors with Google Alerts. This is where the author will have to help out. BUT all publishers should have their cease and desist letters handy so when their authors report a problem, the publisher can then handle it quickly.
I will touch base on this in my article on finding good reviewers. Essentially the use of this list is keeping in touch with quality reviewers. This is a project and a half to work on and maintain, but I think it’s worth the effort. It’s hard finding people to review your books, and the more you put it out there, the more you have to worry about it being pirated.
So how do you find reviewers? I use amazon. I go to a book that’s similar to what I write, and I start looking through the list of reviewers. When I find one with an email address, I send them an email telling them what I’m looking for, and sending along a link to the sign up form for the reviewer’s newsletter. Then it’s simple, you can send out a newsletter whenever you have a new book coming out that needs reviews. If the reviewer is interested they will contact you and let you know they’d like a copy. You should have rules set in place so people know what you’re looking for.
- Consequence of not reviewing
- Length of time they have to complete the review
You can add to the list, but I think it’s best if you just have something simple so it’s fun for the reviewer. I use mailchimp and that’s great because you can go through the list and see who’s participating with the newsletter and who’s not. Then you can kick out those that fail to review when a book is requested or who just don’t open your newsletters. It’s up to you to decide how many people to include on the list, but I like around 100 mainly because not every reviewer is going to want to read every single book.
How does this work for publishers? Well, if you have multiple imprints that deal with different genres, have a newsletter for each imprint so you’re only sending out review newsletters to those people who are interested in those genres. Just like with the self-published author, keep on top of the list so you actually have people working with you and doing what you want them to: reviewing your work.
So, in closing, there’s really nothing you can do when it comes to saving your book from being pirated. There’s no system that you can put in place that will stop your book from going around the internet. If there was, all of those big movie companies wouldn’t have any issue with pirating. But, you can limit the damage by being proactive and controlling the amount of people who get your books for review.
Travis Simmons is the internationally bestselling author of the zombie meets necromancer apocalypse series Infernal Designs, and the dark fantasy series The Revenant Wyrd Saga. He lives in upstate New York surrounded by pines, wildlife, family, and shares his time with his best friend, a moody German Shepard, Akita mix named Kali Mae. When he isn’t writing he enjoys reading, formatting, and learning this tricky game called publishing.