I love google alerts. Love them to tiny little pieces. I have alerts set on my name as well as “Mark of the Demon”. In the early months of my promo for my book, those alerts were invaluable for letting me know when and where people were talking about my book. (I’ll go into the value of that in another post, because that definitely deserves a post of its own!)
But, google alerts have also let me know about some more unpleasant things, such as sites that host illegal downloads of my book.
I had an extensive screed on online piracy mapped out in my head, and then I saw a post that Shiloh Walker made about piracy that said it a thousand times better than I ever could have. So, even though I know I’m preaching to the choir here, I encourage y’all to go check it out, and then hopefully pass it along. Really, go read it.
Okay, back now?
The first time I received an alert of this sort was the day of my book release. Two hits. Seriously, it was that quick. I worked myself into a Righteous Ire, and immediately sent off DMCA takedown notices, requesting that the copyrighted material be removed from the offending sites (usually torrent sites that are jammed full of nothing BUT copyrighted material.) One of the sites took the material down. The other pretty much ignored me. Within a couple of weeks at least a dozen other torrent sites had my book available for download, and I gave up trying to get them to take the material down. Other writers consoled me by saying things like, “The people who download illegally wouldn’t buy it anyway, so try not to think of it as a lost sale.” Or, “Hey, welcome to the world of being a writer! Now you know you’ve made it!”
Either way, Ouch. But, there’s just no way to keep up with all of the illegal torrent sites, and doing so would eat up too much time. It’s a game of whack-a-mole, and I’ve reached a point now where I’ll only fire off a takedown notice if the site has my book either posted directly on their site, or available for direct download.
But every now and then there’s a happier ending. I recently had the shock of finding my entire book posted on wattpad.com, a site that’s designed for people to post and share their own work. I gritted my teeth and sent a barely-politely-worded notice advising the owners of wattpad that my copyrighted material was posted on their site. I was prepared to have my email ignored, but to my quite pleasant surprise, in less than ten minutes I received an email from one of the co-owners of wattpad.com apologizing profusely, and advising me that my book had been removed from their site. I was so pleased at the prompt and efficient response that I let them know that the particular user who had posted my work, had also posted at least a dozen other authors’ books. Within another ten minutes, every single one of the illegally-posted books had been removed.
So, mad props to you, wattpad.com, for keeping your site professional and honest, and for restoring a small measure of my faith in the internet. Thank you for that.