October 20, 2017

I Know Cool People: ARTISTS AGAINST HATE Puerto Rico Benefit Compilation


Back in January, Artists Against Hate (organized by friend/fellow Whovian Dawn Xiana Moon) held an Inauguration Day protest performance.

I'm glad to say that Dawn and Artists Against Hate have assembled United After The Storm to benefit Hurricane Maria relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

There is also an October 27th fundraiser at Uncommon Ground in Edgewater.

For more details, check out Chicago Now's One Cause At A Time.

October 16, 2017

Buy My Books and Stop Digital Piracy!

One of the great ways I get a charge out of my day is when I see a Google Alert in my e-mail. As a published pulp writer, I'm always glad to see my name in print...especially since it means that I've either published a new blog post or have had a book published.

However, this past weekend I received an e-mail that my books had been featured on a site....and well, let's just say that I was not happy...especially since I have ranted about online piracy in the past.

(I'm including screen captures of the site in question as there is no way I would ever encourage traffic).

So I'm looking at this particular site, which is advertising that my books are "free to read" through this particular location. It's obvious that they've aggregated information from Goodreads, and I'm surprised that they are offering my books for free for the following reasons:
  • The only publisher that offers my work for free is "Out There in the Night" for Les Vamps, which I knew going in (I entered a contest), and which you can freely download via http://bit.ly/LesVamps
  • My past contracts for Pro Se Productions and Airship 27 Productions both include royalties...and both publishing houses are run by people with integrity and honor. 
  • When I clicked on a link on this site which was to link to their DMCA policy...a site geared primarily to males over 18 years old popped up. (Think that "p" word that rhymes with "scorn". I don't need that kind of traffic).
Yes, that's right - once again, I'm being pirated. And why shouldn't you use any of these sites, you may ask.

Ironically, not linked to
DMCA on their site
First, unless you're purchasing from a site like Amazon, many of these "free book" sites aren't about selling books - they're about taking your money. (One such site actually had a scam where it was free to join, but the site had a $1.00 "termination fee"...and of course (thanks to an additional Google search, and not through trial-and-error), this site also would have a glitch meaning you would have to terminate again...for $1.00.

But when you pirate books...or music...or any other media, you're screwing over creators who put in a ton of hard work and should get paid for it.

Many of my friends are what you would call "Working Class Creatives" - they're creating cool stuff (like videos, music, writing, art) while working side gigs. (Or, like me, trying to find enough freelance work to make a living).  They're plugging away to create great things for people to enjoy...and some people have to earn a dollar by stealing from others.

And before you make a counterargument in favor of piracy, I'll provide my standard retorts:

  • Libraries buy books, CDs, etc. So the person creating them gets royalties.
  • Patreon is no substitute for a paycheck. And even I have a Patreon, but it's for the Chicago Doctor Who Meetup...and it covers a Britbox subscription and some other supplies. That's it.
  • Congratulations! Piracy also diminishes sales - and visibility - for writers of color, LGTBQIA, and other marginalized authors. So yes, you are hurting them by promoting their book free of charge. 
  • Public domain books are freely available via sites like Gutenberg, Manybooks, and Librivox....but public domain materials are without copyright. Meaning that they're free to distribute within certain limitations. 
  • Public domain characters are free to use, but if I use a character in a story, I have full rights to that story, not that character. And yes, I should get paid for my written work
  • When you distribute our work freely (via sites like the above or torrenting), you're not lending us a helping hand to get the word out...you're giving us the finger and telling us that what we do is worthless. 
So the best thing I can encourage all of you to do is to support your local artist. If you can purchase their work, do it. If you want to follow them on Facebook (like my Facebook author page) and forward their posts, do that. For musicians...pay to attend their shows, and purchase their CDs/officially released MP3s. 

Because let's face it, the only people who really can justify piracy might have never known the struggle to express an idea. It's easy to dismiss creative types are having our "heads in the clouds", but I can admit (and I hope many of my fellow creators will agree) that we are more likely to have focused on working to get it right, to get it honest, and to get it done.

All we want is to be paid for our work like any other worker. And pirating our work is not the way to do it.