Let the Writer Beware

Hey folks,

Recently, a writing friend sent me a link to an article that seems to indicate Scribd, a major subsciption service, is not paying authors. To read the original article, see http://writersweekly.com/this-weeks-article/scribd-com-is-copyright-infringement-their-business-model-and-are-you-a-victim-too-by-wilfried-f-voss.

It’s an interesting article. But we’re all in charge of our own career to one degree or the other.

In the end, my only advice would be to not distribute to Scribd (or do), and to do a search and remove any of your works that are already there (or don’t).

My friend wrote to Draft2Digital to ask them about Scribd. D2D wrote back, in part, that

“Scribd, like many eBook retailers, offers new subscribers a chance to read a book for free, as an enticement to subscribe to the service. The author does not receive a royalty for books read for free, unfortunately. But it may help to think of this as a bit of additional promotion, helping readers to discover your work, for the cost of one book.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean Scribd is paying writers (or paying them appropriately) for books that are not given away free. And I suspect that’s the point of the original article.

I often find my own works on sites I’ve never heard of before. The most recent was only yesterday, when I found one of my most popular nonfiction titles at http://www.handsandheart.info/telecharger/b004sbo8z0-punctuation-for-writers-english-edition. Complete with other-language translations, no less.

Today, I’m looking into that website.

UPDATE: I posted this awhile back. Today (12/4/2018) when I clicked the link for Hands and Heart, it wouldn’t come up. Apparently (I hope) they’re out of business.

But when I’ve found my works at other “small” sites I wasn’t aware of, in every case eventually I learned they were subsidiaries of Amazon or Apple or Kobo or Barnes & Noble and that my sales were counted and royalties paid through those parent organizations.

Then the problem becomes accountability. How do I know the subsidiaries are reporting to the parent companies? How do I know the parent companies are reporting correct figures to me? How do I know someone somewhere isn’t fudging numbers?

The fact is, I don’t. Nor can I.

So finally, for the most part, I simply stopped worrying about it. I like to write, so that’s my main focus. I entertain myself with my stories. That’s their main purpose, and the main purpose I write.

Then, since I’ve already written the thing, well, I suppose I might as well publish it so other people can read it if they want.

That’s how I actually look at it. And that’s why I teach writing, but not marketing or any of that. The most important thing I can tell you about “discoverability” is to write more works and get them out there. The more titles you have out, the easier it is for readers to find your work.

So back to the topic at hand.

I made the conscious decision to simply accept that some of my works would be sold or given away without my knowledge. You know, just like my (or your) paperbacks might be passed from one hand to another.

I’ve done the same thing myself. I recently bought a lot of 18 paperback Jack Reacher novels on ebay from the guy who’d bought them from the bookstore. Think Lee Child got a cut of the $35 I paid the guy on ebay? Of course not.

But none of that means I’ll continue to distribute to a major player (like Scribd) who is obviously not playing by the rules. I won’t. But I’m loath to advise anyone else as to what they specifically should or should not do.

As my Psychology teacher once said, “Don’t should on people.” I think that’s great advice.

‘Til next time, happy writing.


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