Friday, July 24, 2015

When Authors Go Overboard

There's nothing wrong with being angered by piracy as an author. I even understand being angered by fan-fiction, especially if said fan-fiction goes in the same direction as Fifty Shades Of Grey did and leads to a book deal. But there are some authors, who try to protect their copyright, and wind up going overboard instead.

This came to light recently in a facebook post. I can't find the original post for a screenshot of it, but an author confronted a book blogger for posting a picture of her book cover without her permission.  This book blogger was trying to help this author advertise her book. She didn't need permission to post the book cover (it's only stealing if she was trying to publish her own book with the same book cover on it and claiming she made it) and she was doing this author a favor. The author called her a thief and insulted her. This book blogger was terrified to promote authors anymore as a result.

It makes me sad. Why would an author do this? Because they are so obsessed with their copyright, so obsessed with making sure that their precious work is never stolen from them, that all they care about is whether or not they think someone "stole" something from them. They can't look at the intentions of the person (which was to promote them) or the positive that could have resulted from it (more sales!) They were too obsessed over whether they felt like something was stolen from them or not.

Back before I ever wrote a book, I stopped being a fan of a certain author. I read all of her books. I was obsessed with them. It was to the point where I logged onto her web-site and wanted to post on her forum, just so I could discuss her books with other fans and what would happen next in the series because I couldn't wait for more books.

When I went to create an account, I was given a set of rules that I was supposed to follow if I wanted to join the forum. Amongst the list of rules was a rule that said that no one was allowed to join the forum and use one of the characters' names in our username. We couldn't be called "Ilove(character)" or "(Character)isawesome". We weren't allowed to use her book covers in our avatars or signatures or write anything about our affection towards those characters at all. Why? Because it was "stealing" from the author.

Enjoying someone's work, expressing how much you love her characters, is stealing? What? This author isn't thinking this through. Making a username about a character, on her own web-site no less, is not stealing. It's appreciating her creation. It's contributing to the fandom.

Even if I were to make a username on another forum saying "Ilove(hercharacter)", that still wouldn't be stealing. I would be promoting her. People would probably think, eventually, who is (hercharacter)? They might ask me about it and become fans, too.

If you guys want to go everywhere online and call yourself "ILovePandorasMistake" or "ILoveMedusasDesire." Or after I release my next books "IWantToHaveBright'sBabies" or "NightIsTheHottestGodAround." Then do it. I encourage you. Not only will it make me feel awesome if I ever see it because you love my stories so much, but it is a type of promotion. People will learn about my books through you.

If you want to go around posting my book cover, links to my book, and my blurb everywhere, do that as well. I will thank you for it. You are doing me a huge favor.

When authors do this kind of stuff, it makes them seem greedy. They are so obsessed with the money and whether a fan doing something small is stealing a couple of dollars from their pocket that they are literally ruining fans enjoyment of their work.

While I understand why authors hate fan-fiction and this is not a criticism because the issue is kind of borderline, I don't personally hate fan-fiction. I view it the same way. If someone wrote a fan-fic of my story, it means they loved it so much, they daydreamed about it and continued the story in their mind. They loved it so much that I inspired them to write as well. If you ever write a fan-fic for one of my books, feel free to send it to me. It will make me happy. I don't know if I can read it, for legal reasons, until I conclude a series because I can possibly be accused of stealing otherwise. But I will read it if I can and it will make me so happy to just know it exists.

I grew up in a small town and it reminds me of this local fast food joint we had. The owner had a temper. You could hear her yelling and insulting her employees constantly. On top of that, she was greedy. Although I lived in a small town, we eventually expanded a little bit and got a few fast food places where I lived. Hers used to be the only one. In particular we had a McDonald's and a Subway. A few other fast food chains tried to open restaurants as well, but the town was too small and they wound up closing. Anyway, McDonald's was right across the street from this local fast food place. The owner would watch people go into the McDonald's and tell us that if we ever went in there, we were no longer welcome as customers.

It turned me off as a customer. Why? Because she was greedy. She said McDonald's was putting her out of business because it was taking her customers. No, she was putting herself out of business by being unwilling to share. She lost me as a customer because she wanted me to be loyal to her and only her and she threatened me if I didn't comply. So I started going to McDonald's and only McDonald's because they let me do whatever I wanted.

An authors stories and his/her characters are precious to him/her. But we can't let that attachment to our characters destroy our relationship with our fans.

If someone steals your book and tries to publish it under their name, then screw that person. You have every right to be angry and sue the crap out of them. If they post your book on pirating sites, go after them, that's fine. But don't mix those people up with fans who are just trying to talk about how much they enjoy your work or bloggers trying to promote you. You're shooting yourself in the foot if you do that.