Hey guys!

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.


About THE ORPHAN QUEEN eARC — 25 Comments

  1. I totally understand why you and your publisher decided to put up only a sample of The Orphan Queen. However, IMO I don’t believe that most reviewers want to review only a sample. With so many books to review it takes too much time to read the book and then re-read it when the whole book comes out. I would rarely ask for a sample.

    My personal issue with what happened on edelweiss is that it was NOT listed that this was only a sample. So many people requested the e-arc thinking it was the entire book. I think it’s important that reviewers know that it is a sample. Then they can choose whether or not they want it.

    I am super excited to read the book when it comes out.

    • I know, it wasn’t listed as a sample on the page and it should have been. That’s something I immediately brought up to my publisher and asked to have fixed. I haven’t checked back to see whether it’s been listed as a sample yet, but they said they would get on it.

      We’re still testing and experimenting. Unfortunately, that means sometimes we make mistakes. I’m very sorry about the confusion.

  2. Oh god, it’s such a horrible feeling to see your hard work pirated months before it’s available. My work is pirated constantly and I have actually stopped battling them. If I kept up with the take-down notices, it would be a full time job, and they just pop back up again. I hate it. I completely understand wanting to put a sample up instead. Sounds like you just need to make it clear on the book’s information page on EW. Good luck!

    • Yes. I mean, I know it will happen as soon as the book is published, but the SHAME of having an unfinished copy out there, too? With errors and word rep and all those little things you squeeze out during pass pages? Ugh.

      I’ve asked my publisher to make it clear on the page; I think it’s up to EW in the end, though. It’s definitely not something I can control.

  3. Thanks for making this post Jodi! It really sucks that people pirate books, whether they’re eARCs or finished copies.

    I think the problem with this method is that most reviewers can’t do anything with an advanced sample. I understand why samples exist after publication. You can read a snippet to see if you click with the writing style, etc. But I would never read a sample before publication. I’d hate to read only a portion of the book and have to continue it months later. I’d have to start over from the beginning months later anyway to get the full experience, so why even bother with the sample?

    And as for reviewing samples, I just don’t think we can do it. There’s not enough there for us to actually review it, especially when endings can change opinions and ratings so much.

    Anyway, I’m not trying to say you made the wrong decision because I do fully understand why you did it. Just giving you some insight from a reviewer. :)

    If you’re interested in seeing what others think, we have a bit of a discussion about it happening in my blog : http://www.nosegraze.com/earcs-swapped-out-advanced-samples/

  4. I do understand why it’s being done. People suck for making it bad for others. But I also know that I hate reading only parts of books. It makes me anxious. When I loaded it I had no idea it was like that. And now that I have it I feel badly b/c I don’t want to read just part of the book, which means I cannot do the review and I may get penalized for this from the publisher by being denied future books. The only thing I might have asked is that it should say it’s a sample. Those books that go up on NG as such say it. That way readers, librarians and others know what they are getting themselves into. I have downloaded samples and read them in the past only to write to the publisher and ask for a hard copy so I could finish and review the whole book (I will not review just a part because I can’t truly give my opinion on only a small amount of the book). I am in no way saying you made the wrong decision, because you need to do what makes you comfortable and it is your book. I’m just sad that people suck so much that they ruin it for others. And I’m also sad that I cannot put up a review for it :( I cannot wait to read the entire book, though! For sure. I love your writing!

    • I totally get that. I’m not much for reading samples, either, though occasionally they have helped me make decisions whether or not I want to buy something!

      NG and EW are two different platforms, so it’s not fair to compare them. I’m not even sure EW had a way to mention it on the page before now, but I know that is coming.

  5. I am an Ender. I can muck my way through what i think is a terrible book, but the ending can bring it all together for me. As a blogger, it would be difficult for me to review a sample, because I don’t know how it ends, and the endings of books are sometimes (often!) the best parts and completely change my opinion of a book (good or bad).

    That said, I don’t exactly blame authors & publishers for trying this method. Print is expensive and they want to market their books the cheapest way they can while getting the longest reach. I get it. Pirates ruin it for everyone!

    But me personally, I don’t read samples, even if the book is already out. My favorite author posts teasers all the time, but I don’t read them, because I just don’t want to invest my time until I can read the whole thing.

    • Thanks for the input, Jennifer. I definitely feel you; endings can make or break a book for me, too.

      I’m hoping we’ll be able to come up with a better way in the future. We’re still just experimenting for now.

  6. I’ve been wondering about this, so thanks for explaining, Jodi! I completely understand why you went with the sample compromise. It’s such a shame that the actions of a few have ended up ruining it for the majority, but I get and 100% support the need to prevent piracy.

    I’m also glad that you’ve asked someone to fix the fact that the sampler wasn’t marked accordingly on EW – I think that was probably the biggest issue for a lot of the other bloggers I spoke to. I personally don’t feel I can review samplers, the same why I couldn’t review a book I hadn’t finished or at least nearly finished. While a sampler might give you a great taste of the story, I do agree with Jennifer above and think endings can often affect ratings and overall feelings towards a book.

    I’m going to wait to read it, but I do look forward to it. :) Thanks for the post!

    • I’m definitely disappointed about it, too — that just a few people can ruin something good. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, honestly.

      I think before now EW didn’t have much of a system for announcing samples. At least, that’s the impression I got. So it was on the end of the sample for a while, but nowhere else. Then the cover of the sample, but that didn’t help people who hadn’t yet downloaded. But I hear we’re on the way now to having it displayed on the page, too. It might just take some time.

  7. Thanks for writing this post, Jodi! I can definitely see where you’re coming from and I respect your decision. That’s really sad that you have to even think about that kind of thing.

    As for me, personally, I don’t read samples. I have a very hard time remembering books. So if I was to read the sample, I would have to start over and read those 100 pages again once the book is released. So I just avoid samples all together.

    Again, that’s just me, personally. I do plan to read this, but I will wait until it’s released and I can read it in its entirety. Similar to other bloggers, my only gripe was that it wasn’t marked. I heard others talking about it before I read my copy. But I definitely would have felt frustrated and like I had wasted time if I read the sample and then at the end found out it wasn’t the complete story. I know this isn’t your fault, and I really appreciate you saying you are trying to fix the problem.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us! :)

    • Thanks, Lisa. The unmarked sample thing definitely bothered me, too, and it’s being worked on. I’m just sad it’s taken so much time and left so many people confused.

  8. I was sad to find out that OQ was only a sample. I was very excited to see it up on EW, and while it was disappointing to hear that it wasn’t the full edition, I definitely understand why it was done (although I do wish that EW would have labeled it! Not that knowing would have changed my decision to download, but still would have been nice to know) and I am outraged that you had to go through that. It’s a shame that people are so ignorant. It’s also a shame that said ignorant people ruin things for the honest ones, but such is life, right? Too bad there’s no way to weed those people out. I don’t think those pirate sites should exist at all….if only we could get them taken down!

    • I, too, wish there’d been a “sample” label from the start! I asked right away, but it’s taken some time to get it fixed. Not sure if it has been yet, but I know they’re working on it.

      I also wish there were a way to shut down pirate sites. It’d sure save me a lot of stress and money!

  9. Thank you so much for sharing your reasons publicly like this Jodi! I already knew the reasons since you explained yourself on Twitter too, and I can understand that it’s so upsetting to find your hard work pirated already before even release day!
    I requested the sampler, and I hope I’ll get approved for it! A sampler can be fantastic for those who are a bit on the fence about a book and it can also be great for fans to give them a taste of what’s to come!

  10. I’m glad to have a sample. I can’t wait for this book! I’m sad people have to steel these wonderful books. It makes me angry that people will pirate books. why? There needs to be more policing on this but since the internet is so big that could be hard. I just love your books and will buy them the second they come out. Hopefully I get to sample this awesome new book. All the hugs!

    • Yeah, it’s really hard to catch pirates. We’re always working on it, but they’re just everywhere.

      And thanks, Tawney. I saw they denied someone earlier today, but I’ve asked that it go free for all since it’s just a sample, so even if you get a denial, check again later.

  11. Thank you so much for this explanation, and I’m sorry piracy is such a problem. As a bookseller and reviewer, I was fortunate to read the sample of Orphan Queen on edelweiss (thank you). I was sad that I couldn’t read all of Orphan Queen because I want to write a staff pick for it, but I understand now. Also, a few days after I read it edelweiss updated the download to notify readers it’s a sample.

    • Hi Alyssa,

      Thanks for your note, and for reading the sample! I’m glad to hear that you liked it. If you have a contact at Harper, please do send them an email and ask for the physical ARC! I’ll point them in your direction from here, too. :)

      Letting people know ahead of time that it’s a sample has been quite a struggle, but it sounds like we’re on the right track now. I’m just sad that it took so long and upset so many people along the way, but hopefully this will help everyone if there are more samples for other books in the future.

  12. Hey Jodi :)

    Thank you for explaining! I’m going to link this to my current GoodReads review as well. I’m one of those who downloaded and read the sample and was left really confused. I did post how I felt about the book so far, but its not a fair thing since my quibbles amount to “But it makes no sense why she would do that!” and will likely be answered in the rest of the book. But like others pubs penalize (intentionally or otherwise) if you don’t post a response to your download which :sigh: I wouldn’t like on my account.

    When it comes out I’ll likely borrow it from my library so I can post a full review on my blog and Goodreads profile, because I *do* want answers, my budget just doesn’t allow for it anymore since the paycut. :/

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