Book Pirates – How and Why to Sink Their Ships

Shipwreck - Illustration for short adventure shipwreck story Captain Whistler Goes Down

Writing is a lot of work. Writers often have to edit their own work, find their own beta readers, edit again, arrange their own cover designers, and figure out how the hell they’re supposed to make any sales when they have the same marketing budget as a lemonade stand. And after you do all that, there’s another issue to deal with: book pirates.

At first, you might not care. You’re not doing this for the money. You’re writing simply to entertain, inform, excite… Even if that’s the case, you should still get your cannons ready and be prepared to sink some pirate ships.

First, you never know when someone might take the thief’s side. I’ve had a book pirate even try to edit Wikipedia to get “proof” that he wrote my work. If you don’t want to be accused of stealing your own work, it’s important to stop the plagiarists and pirates as soon as you can.

Having your work stolen can also cause problems with Amazon. When authors sign up for Amazon’s KDP Select program, one of the rules is that your work not be accessible elsewhere online. I’m fine with that. If you’re making an exclusivity deal with someone, you shouldn’t go publishing elsewhere behind their back. However, Amazon’s automated tools are currently unable to tell the difference between you selling your work to another publisher and having your work stolen and posted to Either way, you can have your work taken off of Amazon, and even have your KDP account closed. Be careful to follow Amazon’s rules, and when stolen work appears online, deal with the pirates fast.

So, how do you do it?

First, make watching for pirates one of your writing habits. Set up a reminder in your phone or however you prefer to track your tasks. You want to do this regularly.

Google your book titles, with and without your name. Also Google phrases from your work. If you find any of your work stolen online, the first thing to do is click the three dots on the right of the search results. An information panel will pop up. Select “Remove Result.” Google will guide you through several steps to select your reasons for removal. It’s an easy process and a simple form. I’ve had to do it around a dozen times now.

If the site is hosted in the US, you can file a DMCA Takedown Notice. After receiving one, website hosts have to remove or block access to the stolen content, or they can be sued. (I’m not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. I’m just a sci-fi writer. You shouldn’t take my advice on anything.) There are a bunch of DMCA Takedown Notice templates available online. You can find more information on my research sites for writers page.

Keep watching for pirates, and keep writing!

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