A couple of weeks ago, THE ORPHAN QUEEN went up on Edelweiss. For those of you who don’t know, Edelweiss is a catalog-hosting site that a lot of publishers use to help booksellers, librarians, teachers, and book bloggers keep up with the books they have coming out in the next couple of seasons. Every book’s page gives a lot of information about the book, like the on-sale date, announced print run, marketing plans, and even the trim size.
So what does it mean that THE ORPHAN QUEEN went up on Edelweiss?
There’s also a function in Edelweiss that allows publishers to upload proofs of books (basically advance reader copies — ARCs) for librarians, booksellers, and reviewers to download and read early. They’re not final copies, but often pretty close. This is particularly cool, because not everyone can get paper ARCs, which are expensive to produce and ship. Plus, a lot of people just like reading on their ereaders.
But there’s something different about OQ’s file — which is that it’s not a complete book. The file that is on EW is a partial, the first third of the book. (All of Part One, about 35k words and 150 pages.)
You may be asking why.
It’s true, it’s different, and it’s something I was sort of hoping I’d be able to get away with not addressing, but I’ve had a lot of questions about it. (Which is good, since it means people care!) And what it comes down to is this: most people are good and trustworthy with the eARCs they’re given, but not all are so honorable.
My first book, INCARNATE, was on a similar site in late 2011, a few months before it came out. The day after it went up, I got an alert saying the unfinished copy of my book–this file my publisher had entrusted people with–was up on a pirate site to be downloaded illegally. Months before the book was released.
I’m definitely not the only one this has happened to. I’ve seen so many authors upset about their unfinished books being shared illegally before the they are released. This hurts authors, publishers, and readers, too.
Before THE ORPHAN QUEEN went onto Edelweiss, my publisher and I had a chat. They know how strongly I feel about piracy and wanted to make sure I was all right with the decision to put my book up there. I’ll be honest, my gut response was no! I’d just watched a friend react to her debut appear on pirate sites five months before its release. Through her, I experienced the confusion and betrayal all over again. Someone the publisher trusted enough to give early access to decided to share the file. They betrayed the publisher and the author, who they claim they want to support.
But after some thought, we came up with a compromise: a sample. A big sample, not just the first couple of chapters anyone will be able to find on Amazon in a few months. That way, when the sample is pirated, it will actually do what pirates say illegal file-sharing does: spread awareness about the book.
I hate that honest, trustworthy people are being punished for the actions of others. It’s not fair. After seeing some of the responses to OQ’s file being only a sample, I almost regretted the decision, because I love my readers and I want them to be happy.
But then I got a notification. Muso (the service I pay for every month to help identify pirated books and send takedown notices) sent an email saying another illegal file had been detected. What do you think it was?
An illegal copy of the INCARNATE eARC that was up in 2011.
So I don’t regret the decision to put only a sample of THE ORPHAN QUEEN on Edelweiss. I know how those illegal files stick around. But I do regret that nice people are being punished for the immoral behavior of others. That makes me really angry.
I hope there’s a better solution out there. We’re going to keep looking and keep experimenting, but right now it looks like publishers are leaning toward samples to keep books from being pirated early. And I hope you’ll bear with us and continue to be understanding.
Also, I hope you do decide to request the sample of THE ORPHAN QUEEN. I know it’s harder to review a sample, but this one is big enough that it should give you an idea of where the story is going and whether you’re interested enough to continue with it. You can always request a paper ARC from your contact at HarperCollins, or use my form.
I’ve seen a lot of questions about how to review samples, so if anyone has a good method, feel free to say something in the comments; there are a bunch of people who’d like your advice.
Edited to add: A lot of people are asking why the sample wasn’t clearly marked on the Edelweiss page. You feel tricked. I get it. I would, too. I don’t know why it wasn’t marked, but I’ve asked for someone to fix that, which is all I can do.