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I’ve seen a few other authors complain about it–finding conversations among readers about where they got their free, illegal copy of the author’s book, but I never paid much attention.

I figured, I’m going with a small publisher, so no one will notice my book enough to pirate it. Oh-ho, was I wrong. It’s been just over two weeks since Want was officially released, and pirated digital copies are available on no less than five sites.

Hint: I saw a hint that maybe something was amiss when I clicked on a Goodreads review of Want. The commenters talked about having to print it out to read it. Say what? While I appreciate that they’re reading my book and leaving kind reviews, I wish they’d go about it a different way.

Then, when a listing for an illegal copy popped up in my Google Alerts, my fears were confirmed. A search for “Stephanie Lawton Want epub” turned up even more.

Reaction: I’ve vacillated between disgust and anger all day. I guess I naively figured people are basically good. It would never in a million years occur to me to illegally download a book, and as a former English instructor, I have a very low tolerance for things like piracy and plagiarism.

First, let me say it’s not about the money (I suspect my publisher would have a different opinion!). Sure, the money is a great side product of publishing a book, but let’s be real–I am not going to get rich off this story.

However, I put several years of my life into this book. Time, talent, energy, tears and a lot of my own money–they all went into its creation. My publisher contributed even more.

Stealing: Downloading a pirated copy is no different from walking into an art gallery and stealing a painting off the wall. You take part of that artist with you when you take his or her lifeblood without permission.

Let me be clear: You must pay for intellectual property. In today’s digital climate, there’s no excuse. The e-version of Want is $4.99, which is cheaper than the iced coffee you pick up on the way to school or work. Last week, my publisher even knocked it down to $1.99 for a day. You can find that in your couch cushions.

Action: Both the publisher and I have the links to the illegal sites. We are in the process of addressing them, plus a computer nerd friend (I use that term affectionately) is giving me advice.

I’ll keep you posted and let you know what works and what doesn’t. If you’re an author, be vigilant. If you’re a reader or blogger, please consider adding a graphic to your website that indicates you don’t tolerate book piracy.

And if you’re a reader who steals books, I feel sorry for you. If you’re a reader who’s stolen my book, please go to this listing of places you can buy Want, and leave an honest review.

In the future, consider going to your library and requesting they carry the book or e-book. Then, when they get it, check it out for a week or two. Problem solved and everybody wins.