Following up from my piracy post, I am reporting piracy links to my publishers. And I'm only publishing with publishers who send the DMCAs on my behalf. That's why I'm giving them a big chunk of my money: for cover, editing, and maintenance of my rights (and our income streams).
I will not publish with publishers who will not take an active stance there. Which, incidentally, will see me team up with some new players this year and next, and discontinue sending submissions to others. It's as simple as that. If the publisher can't be bothered to defend its (and my) rights, I can't be bothered to submit to them and give them 75-50% of my money.
I have 3 hours or so a day to write. I know authors who spend a lot of their writing time fighting pirates. I prefer to let somebody else deal with it so I have my head free to, you know, actually put words down.
Now, I get sent a lot of piracy links from fellow authors. But one incident shocked me a little. A fellow m/m author sent me a link with a note that basically read "I thought you might be bothered to defend your work" and added "oh, and by the way, your friend X of Facebook is a known book pirate. You might want to rethink your "friendship"."
I emailed "X", asking her very factually and calmly, I think, if she was pirating books. She responded shocked and dismayed. I then didn't follow that one up, but it got me thinking.
Here's what I have arrived at: It's entirely possible that some of my friends and readers pirate my books. Basically, I can't know what people do in their bedrooms at night. Just because I send them free books or wristbands or whatever doesn't mean they are incapable of sharing my book with a few thousand of their closest friends and show their love and support by taking away my revenue and even taking the work for free that I charge for. (I'd think that more than a million words in freebies would be enough, personally.)
After thinking it all through a few times, and I admit I really struggled with writing while fighting my very emotional responses and the knee-jerk reaction of "fine, I'll stop publishing, then and write for myself and fifty or so of my own friends" (yes, that's always a possibility, and I'm not the only one who considered writing only for themselves and their friends) - I got over it. I got over my ego and hurt feeling and trust issues. In the end, nobody but me gives a fuck about my ego, and I better live with that. The stories need to come out.
Also, I simply can't live in a way that makes me automatically mistrust everybody. I can't look at my couple hundred Facebook friends, wondering who might be a pirate. There's no way for me prove who is a pirate and who isn't. Some people might pirate some books and buy others. I can't live my life in mistrust and fear - and anger, never forget the anger.
Writing is hard enough as it is, and complex enough. I can't lose sleep over pirates or fretting over people sending their PDF of one of my books to their friends. I have friends who can't afford my books. Some are frail and poor, others are students and poor, others are jobless and poor. I'm giving a lot of books away to them - because, hey, they are friends. I'm not charging a close friend, who's shared their work and life and writing with me. I'm not a penny-pinching asshole, and I can't imagine a world where I see thieves and pirates everywhere. I can't worry about it, because it would severely hurt the writing.
I can't listen to the paranoid who denounce other people, either. I can't peddle in suspicion and mistrust. It's not why I'm here. I'm here to tell the goddamned story as best as I can (and I leave the piracy issue to my publishers).