SPAGFTT8: Pdf’s and pirates

spgfttpdfsand pirates

I’ve not done one of these ‘helpful’ guides for a long while, this one came about because of a bit of a rant on my part (yes I know that’s hard for regular readers to believe, me, rant, never…). A rant involving a pet peeve that I’ve had for a long time, which has a lot to do with naivety among the creative community. Writers, like most creative, tend as a whole to be very honest fairly straightforward people who don’t think at right angles.

‘I am honest, ergo everyone is honest’ ~ Anon

What a wonderful world it would be if that was true, and, just to stress this point, in most cases it is. The problem is often in fact that these honest people you are dealing with also live by that same maxim. They are also often helpful and like to share things, and if you send them a copy of your work they might well, without even thinking about the possible implications lend it on to a third party, because they are helping you to get yourself out there, they believe in your work so they share it with others, and of course because…

‘I am honest, ergo everyone is honest’ ~ Anon

Do you see where this is going yet… No? Well, bless you for your honest heart and the naivety of your soul. The world needs more people like you, it really does, but the world also needs you to listen a while to the likes of me. I who is also honest, honest as the day is long, indeed to quote an old British scar band… ‘the longer the daylight, the less I do wrong …’

A little explanation is in order here perhaps. I am not just a writer, oh but I could live on the meagre crumbs my talent such that it does lay upon my table. Unfortunately, I like to actually eat food, and own a table to eat it on, along with a roof over my head etc.. ie I have a day job. The day job in question is in High-Security IT facility, working with systems you would not want just anyone to gain access to. As such I am by nature of my profession, when it comes to IT, professionally paranoid… I also understand how that who weird web of digital madness we call the internet actually strings together and the greatest security risk that it faces each day, which is not virus’s or trojans or hackers, but the thing that all those three pray upon, homo-naievous. The ones that think to themselves…

‘I am honest, ergo everyone is honest’ ~ Anon

Hackers are not really masters of the internet, or computer code, they are masters of making use of the naive. Which, in my longwinded way brings me to PDF’s and the words that have a tendency to make me go a little red at the gills. Writers are a nieve lot, lovely, wonderful, but nieve so every so often they will say something like this, which then gets me into trouble because I have the tact of a Yorkshire miner / fast bowler on a village green who just got a chance to send one down the crease at the pit manager.

Would you like to review my book message me and I’ll send you a PDF ~ naive writer

Here is the problem, PDF copies are the number 1 way in which a writers work goes from being his or her exclusive intellectual property, to something out on every torrent site and pirate-bay clone in the world. Now just to be clear here I have no problem with pirates, at least not Captain Jack Sparrow, tricorn wearing, flintlock firing, Long John Silver’s, airship desperados, Han Solo, Firefly flying pirates. No no problem with that kind of pirate at all. As opposed to my moral based opinion of the people who steal creative people’s work and give it away on torrent sites. The modern internet pirate I have a moral problem with, but that’s fine, I am aware there are plenty of people who don’t follow exactly the same moral tack as I do. Call me old fashioned however but I am of the opinion that when someone has poured their heart and soul into something expecting people not to steal it and give it away on the internet is fairly basic as a moral stand. Perhaps having spent years writing each of my books I am biased, but if anyone is going to give all that hard work away it will be me damn it…

So here is the problem with pdf copies. Even if you only send them to people you believe to be utterly honest, you can’t know that they are, and even if they are entirely genuine they may also think they been helpful when having loved you book they send a copy to a third party friend. Then they send it to someone else… Do you see what happens here? Maybe you don’t. If so let me add this little pause for thought, if you send out maybe twenty-five pdf copies and everyone is honest, but only a quarter of them pass on that copy to someone else, and those seven or eight extra people pass it on again or a couple of times, it doesn’t take long before twenty copies out in the world has multiplied out among people you have never heard of, give it a month and maybe there are fifty copies out there in the world. Now think of fifty people you know well, whom you would trust in general, who you talk to on occasion, and ask yourself how many of those people have ever used a torrent site…

There are two ways things end up on torrent sites,

  1. fishing servers downloading files in shared torrent folders
  2. people actively uploading

Now in the case of the first possibility, most people sent their torrent folders if they have them to be the same download folder they use for everything they download so if you send someone a couple of your PDF attached to an email guess where it almost always ends up when they download it. And yes if people know exactly what they are doing they can set files not to be uploadable, or only specific ones But how many people really know that much about what they are doing? Speaking as an It security guy I can tell you it’s probably less than you think.

As for the second possibility well back to our fifty people you know, can you honestly say you know for a fact that not one of them would ever consider uploading a file to a torrent site on purpose? Even if your own moral position on the pirates is different from mine and many peoples moral positions are, how many of those people who honestly believe that torrenting big Hollywood movies and the books of multi-million selling authors like Patterson and King is fine as ‘those guys make a fortune anyway’, would draw a line in the sand when it comes to the work of a small independent author? Well if you do you have more faith in humanity than me.

So do you see my issue with the words…

Would you like to review my book message me and I’ll send you a PDF ~ naive writer

Now I know this presents a problem for writers who want to send free copies to people to read in order to get some reviews and build some momentum. So here comes the helpful part, there are other options, one of which is undoubtedly the best option which is to create mobi files and email them directly to peoples kindles.

Modi files can be copy protected, which prevents them form been transferred to other devices or sent to other people, so your file stays exactly where you sent it and remains secure. And yes that copy protection is breakable if you know what you’re doing, nothing is truly secure, but unlike a pdf it takes a little knowledge most people don’t have and importantly a whole lot more effort than just sharing a pdf file. Basically, it is not easy so someone really has to put some effort into sending on your file, which is what makes it much more secure. It the difference between leaving a ground floor window open when you go out and locking up the house and putting the alarm on. Sure someone can still break in but the casual burglar will at least go elsewhere.

Yes, torrent hackers will break copy protection on Batman vs Superman even though it takes them a fair bit of effort, but your indie novel probably would not be worth the effort to them.

And yes I realise not everyone knows how to make a secure mobi file. I am in IT not everyone is so while it is simple to me because of my other profession, a helpful guide on how to make them and another on how to find your own kindle email address that you can link to anyone who doesn’t know how to find it themselves is probably in order.

First, to make an actual mobi file there are lots of options, some of them online, Please do not use the online ones as they ask you to upload your manuscript. And yes most of them are honest, but it only takes one to be less so and push on your files, so don;t take a chance and use one of the also free downloadable ones. my recommendation is calibre because it will take any text file, be it word, or a pdf or whatever and turn it into a mobi file , it will also make ibook, ebook files as well as mobi so you have other options

There are others, some of them simpler than others. Calibre is just my personal preference

As a side note, reading pdf on a Kindle is never as user-friendly as a mobi file, it doesn’t scroll or scale properly for a start. If you want good recvisews you want to present your work exactly as intended and as well as you can make it. So making mobi files just makes sense.

As for how to find those kindle email address ( the address that Amazon use to send files to your Kindle) here again is an easy guide, bookmark it and send it to your volunteer readers if they don’t know how to find it.

Again knowing your kindle email is really useful, not least because you can then send any file you want to your Kindle, like your WIP if your going away for the weekend and want to be able to give it a read through on the train but don’t want to drag along your laptop …

So that’s the rant over, hopefully, if you were not aware with eth problem of sharing pdf’s you are now, and hopefully, you can see why I feel it is important you should avoid doing so. As I say the alternative is far safer for you the writer and actually a lot more continent in many ways to the readers your asking to review your books into the bargain.

adios for now



My previous self publish advice guide can be found hereĀ 


This entry was posted in amwriting, goodreads, indie, indie novels, indiewriter, opinion, rant, self-publishing, writes, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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