Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Guest Post: Jesse Frankel

Those of us in the Indie Author and Small Press community know how hard it is to sell a few books. When we find out that someone out there is stealing our work and using it to further their nefarious ends, it's not a good feeling. Today I have Jesse Frankel, a prolific author talking about book pirates.

Aaaaar, matey, you've been pirated...
Not a good feeling, is it? You've worked hard on your manuscript, you've sweated and slaved and bled and cried and exulted in a labor of love...and a few days after it's been officially published, it turns up on a pirate torrent for anyone to download it--free.

This can be disenheartening for anyone. It was for me. Privately, as well as publicly, I raged, not only at the individual who set up the site--one of many, perhaps--but also against the people who gleefully boasted "I've been searching for a FREE copy of this book for a long time!" (For anyone's information, it was The Menagerie. In the past, it was Star Maps, the first edition).

People out there must understand that, in general, writers are not wealthy. If I were Stephen King or J.K. Rowling or any other well-known writer whose earnings run into six digits or more a year, I probably wouldn't care.

However, the vast majority of writers, regardless of whether they're traditionally published or self-published, do NOT make millions. Were that to be true, I wouldn't be writing this article. Every sale IS important. Word of mouth is important. Reviews are important, and pirate sites giving away our stuff for free undercuts our potential by, IMO, a significant margin.

For those who are niche writers, it's even worse. We already struggle; we don't need some unscrupulous person to make things worse. Of course, they don't care. They figure "Oh, so-and-so is already getting money. I wanna make mine!" And the readers--at least some of them--figure the same thing. So either they're wilfully ignorant or downright stupid. Place your bets!

So, the question arises of what to do in this situation. Options include sending a complaint letter--which I have done--but chances are the site owner will ignore it and step up their efforts to sell.

Two, threaten legal action. Good idea, but reality shows that it costs the suer more than the suee. (Soo-ee? Arnold, anyone? That's a Green Acres reference,, for those out there old enough to remember the show).

Three, publicly name those who not only sell, but also buy. This is risky, as it verges on libel, and short of magically traveling through the Internet to find out where their computer is and popping up in their living room, there isn't much one can do.

Another author mentioned that he considered it an honor to have his work pirated in the sense that someone was reading it and others might buy it in the future. Well, he is entitled to his opinion, and I respect that. Me, I felt bitter at first and then royally angered--to put it mildly--but I came to realize that some people--the aforementioned site owners as well as some readers--are unscrupulous to the max and will not change.

However, I can. I can only do what I think is best for me, and that's to keep writing, something Suzie Carr, a terrific writer and friend, mentioned recently. I can only do my best and hope that readers will be honest and buy my books and not cheat me or other writers or the system. I can only hope.

And that four-letter word is what sustains me, that, and the good wishes of fellow authors and readers who have bought my work in the past and I hope will continue to buy it in the future.


Hi, I'm Jess Frankel, pen name J.S. Frankel, an expat Canadian now living in Japan. I write primarily YA Fantasy, and some of my better known novels are the Catnip series (five books), The Titans of Ardana trilogy, Star Maps, and Picture (Im)perfect, my only romance novel.
My latest novel, a YA suspense/thriller, The Undernet, will be released in late June. Here's the link, and I hope everyone will give my books a try.


  1. Thank you for this honor, Rose Montague!

    1. You are most welcome! Thanks for taking part in my blog ♥