Author Alert: Is book piracy happening to you and your book?

How to Deal with Book Piracy

You did it … you’ve got your book; you have happily declared yourself a “published” author; sales are coming in; you are promoting it in every channel you can think of, and then an online OMG moment hits. Your book is not being sold by who you authorize to sell it.

Some bad person or group is offering/selling your book without your permission. You are clueless about how it got on their site. This is a scenario I get queries from several times a month.

HELP … my book has fallen into bad hands

 and I don’t know how to get it back.

  • Have your words been lifted … gulp … plagiarized and now being published with someone else’s name on it?
  • Has the book been snagged and being either sold with all moneys going to “someone” you have no idea about?
  • Could it now be a “hook” to lure in an unsuspecting book buyer in to pitch something else to, even directing them to a dark or naughty sites?

Again, you are clueless how your book landed there.

Most likely, what has happened is that your book has been kidnapped … pirated: it has walked the infringement plank.

The last thing that most of us want to think about is that we are that we need to “police” our work—to be on the lookout for someone (person or company) that has lifted our work and using it for their benefit. Yet, every author needs to be on the alert. Think of this as one of those post-publication duties added to the authoring To-Do list once the book is out.

For copyright protection, if you’ve taken the steps to register your work, enforcing your copyright through the court system is a little easier–if it becomes a necessity. One of the challenges is identifying which part of your work has been copied.

My disclaimer: years ago, I took back the right of my book GenderTraps from a traditional publisher (one of the biggies). One Saturday AM, I was doing a search on Google with a link I had been given to see what libraries my titles were in. The squirrel that I can be, I’m now wondering where else are my books and I started putting in Amazon Europe and other places. And aha … there was GenderTraps.

Through the Amazon Canada, I ordered a copy … yep, here my book was in French. Now, I had never placed the book there; I had no information about foreign rights from now my former publisher with a delightful email or letter saying that rights had been sold to France, Belgium, Germany or anything connected with the UK—in fact, I never got a dime from the publisher for any foreign right sales (typically an author would get 50%) … but golly, here my book was with a new cover, the same title and yes, my name was clearly on the cover and available in those countries. And printed in other languages. And … I hadn’t gotten a dime for it. I was not happy.

The letter I had clearly reverted all rights back to me from the publisher and was dated prior to any of these new publications. I had a decision to make.

No, I did not sue the publisher—what I did do was have my attorney send a cease and desist letter. Why? To go down a copyright infringement suit takes bucks—often very big bucks. In my case, I was dealing with a major publisher that had deep pockets and could sink me in legal fees. And, I would have to prove my damages—actual moneys lost and/or not received based on book sales in foreign countries and any advances to the publishers. As someone who had already published a dozen books with traditional publishers by that time, I knew that royalty statements could be challenging to figure out—previous experiences with publishers had occurred where not all sales were reported and I had to work hard to get what was due me. Sometimes, I didn’t succeed.

In other words, skullduggery exists. A suit could suck mega thousands of my moneys; the time involved plus the emotional drain wasn’t a path I wanted to go down.

Discovery of Infringement

Interesting, it’s often a “fan” who will bring it to your attention that your work has been zapped and an infringement is in play. What do you do next?  Good question. Here are four steps to take to protect your and your book:

1.  Notifying the author/freelancer/publisher that your work has been infringed upon and that you are protecting your copyright.

  1.  You may want to contact an intellectual property attorney if a significant amount of your work has been lifted and discuss the best way to proceed with the “alleged” words.
  2.  If your work has not been registered yet with the U.S. Copyright office, and the alleged infringement is significant, get it done pronto—if you do choose to pursue legal action, having your book formally registered with the Copyright office will increase the amount you can collect on damages if awarded.
  3.  Deal with book piracy. Matey … you’ve got a problem. You to either start putting energy into tracking your book and where it lands yourself or work with someone who will do it for you.

Book piracy costs publishing over $200 million a year–don’t let you or your book become a victim. Get help. Earlier this year, I did a podcast on it. Listen HERE.  

What to Do …

If you are not up on Google Alerts and Talk Walker … go-Go-GO now and get you and your book included in these nifty search tools—they are free.

  • You should have “your name” and “your book title”.
  • Create alerts on a few of your unusual sentences in your book— make sure you put quote marks in front of the first word and after the last.

If you discover an activity that includes selling your book that you have no idea who the sell is, do this:

Create a Take Down Notice for Pirated Books!

One of the critical notices to send to any website hosting company is the DMCA. Go to and download the sample letter. Do a copy and paste with your information, then submit it to any hosting company that is carrying your books and shouldn’t be. The clock starts to tick with a 24-hour window to remove your material.  

If you have been hit … create a Take Down Notice for Pirated Books!

One of the critical notices to send to any website hosting company is the DMCA (stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act). Go to HERE and in the Search box put “takedown letter”. The search will take you to it … now download the sample letter. HERE 

Do a copy and paste with your information (DO NOT CHANGE ANY wording in the sample letter—just sub in the title of your book and other related info for it; use the rest of the notice as is), then submit it to any hosting company that is carrying your books and shouldn’t be. The clock starts to tick with a 24-hour window to remove your material.

As always, we authors need to be proactive: in marketing our books and in protecting them.
Do a search with the Piracy Trace tool and see if your books are floating somewhere they shouldn’t be. Bet many of you will be surprised.

Having your work, your words, stolen is creepy. It’s time to see if you are protected.

Judith Briles is a book publishing expert and coach. She empowers authors and works directly with authors who want to be seriously successful and has been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the ’80s. Judith is the author of 37 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms, Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers, and How to Create a $1,000,000 Speech. Her personal memoir When God Says NO-Revealing the YES When Adversity and Loss Are Present is a #1 bestseller on Amazon. Collectively, her books have earned over 45 book awards. Judith speaks throughout the year at publishing conferences. 

Throughout the year, she holds Judith Briles Book Unplugged experiences: Publishing, Speaking, Marketing, and Social Media. All are two-day intensive limited to a small group of authors who want to be seriously successful. Join Judith live for the “AuthorU-Your Guide to Book Publishing” podcast on the Toginet Radio Network HERE

Follow @AuthorUYOUBooks and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU, and join the Facebook group Book Publishing with The Book Shepherd. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact me.

©2021 Judith Briles – The Book Shepherd™ All Rights Reserved.