Every action has a reaction as they say. What effects publishers and authors does also affect readers. Before you can understand the truth about piracy, you first have to understand publishing. I’m going to offer you a crash course on the basics.
When an author sells a book, the majority get paid an advance ranging from $0 – $100,000. Most authors fall somewhere in the lower end range of $0 – $25,000. Does that sound like a lot of money? Not if you consider it takes the average author six months to write a book and the majority only publish one book a year. Could you live off of $25,000 (and don’t forget about the taxes which reduce that amount roughly by 30%)? That means an author needs to make money on the back-end with royalties (a percentage of each book sold). Well, authors only get royalties after they’ve paid back their advance, and most don’t. Perhaps now you can understand why every book sale is important to an author.
Still, I haven’t really talked about how this affects you, so let’s get into the down and dirty. With the poor economy and bookstore closures, publishers are limiting deals to non-celebrity authors. Instead of buying a planned series, in many cases, they buy the first book only and see what happens. So, if a book is downloaded several thousand times (which are pretty standard numbers), it could mean the publisher is never able to break even on the book. That means, they reject the rest of the series and you never get to see how it ends. A character you’ve grown to love and cheer for is now gone. Of course, the rest of the series could get picked up by another publisher, but who wants to invest in a failed series? Would you buy a broken bungee cord? Not likely.