Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How to Protect Yourself from Pirates: Keep Your Book Safe

Five Ways to Help Keep Your Book from being Pirated

1. Don’t give away loose files to anyone you don’t trust. What do I mean by loose files? I mean any kind of file that can be easily transferred from one place to another, for example: the Word document of your book. Obviously you’re going to give this file out to your betas, and hopefully you trust them enough not to steal from you. But, I also mean regular mobi, e-pub and PDF files. YES, these have been formatted, but just like it’s easy for you to e-mail them to your ARC readers or giveaway winners, it’s also easy for them to take them and upload them on a pirated site. If you can, instead of giving away mobi or e-pub files to giveaway winners, gift them copies from Amazon, B&N, or Kobo.

2. Add specific copyright information to each book. Sometimes following rule #1 is hard if not impossible to do. For example, when sending out ARC copies to acquire some reviews before your book is published you may need to send out “loose files”. Other times it really is just easier to give out mobi or e-pub files in giveaways than to gift them. So, if you can’t follow rule #1 then format each book for each reader. In my advanced reader copies I write "This is an ARC for Lauryn April's Use only." So each individual book has that reader's name in it. This way if I find my book pirated later on at least I'll know where it came from. 

3. Don’t use online formatters. The internet is not secure. Do not use a website to convert your files into epub or mobi. Instead use a program that you download onto your computer like the Auto Kindle eBook Converter. For e-pubs you can upload a word doc to Nook Press, they will convert it and you can download the e-pub file to use elsewhere. Check out the Formatting Resource page on the Phantom Owl Press website to help you safely format your book.

4. Do apply the DRM to your books. After your upload your file on Amazon, but before you hit publish they will ask you if you want to enable DRM. This stands for Digital Rights Management, and adds a layer of protection to your book to keep it from being pirated. B&N and Kobo have DRM as well.

5. Don’t use Smashwords. Smashwords has no DRM option. They have absolutely no mechanism to prevent piracy, and I’ve heard more than a few horror stories of authors finding the books they’d hosted on Smashwords pirated on other sites. Check out this post by Author Samantha Young and read why she no longer uses Smashwords.

Note, while these suggestions will help keep your book from being pirated, they may not prevent it. Pirates acquire books in a number of ways, probably more than I even know about. I’ve heard of authors having their e-mail’s hacked and even of pirates finding ways to remove DRM.

Furthermore, while taking these steps may help prevent your book from being pirated, they will also limit your ability to reach as many potential readers as possible. As an author you need to weigh the pros and cons of the above actions to decide what’s best for your book. Personally I follow all of the points mentioned above.

How to Know if Your Book is being Pirated Already

I know a number of sites where I’ve found my book pirated and I could list them here, but they are only a few sites in an incalculable number of sites that host pirated books. Going through them one by one and searching for your novel would be not only an endless process but a tiring one as well. Luckily there’s an easier way to do this. Google yourself!

Go to Google and type the title of your book along with your name Ex: “A Different Kind, Lauryn April” and see what comes up. Hopefully you’ll see your blog and Amazon page, maybe even some blogs that have reviewed your book. That’s all well and good, but if you see anything that looks odd click on it and see what it is. If they are hosting an illegal copy of your book to download it will be very obvious.

How to Remove Your Book from a Pirated Site

Once you've found your book on a pirate site you'll want to remove it. To do this you need to file a DMCA complaint with the site you’ve found your book on. DMCA stands for Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and is a United States copyright law that among other things heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet.

Basically, if you file one of these complaints with a site they have to remove your book from their site. If they fail to do so you can file a DMCA complaint with Google, Yahoo, ect… and have the page which is hosting your book removed from their search engine.

However, it’s not quite as simple as sending them an email that says “please remove this”. There are specific things you need to say in your message, and most sites will tell you exactly what those are, but in case one doesn’t, I’ll show you exactly how I fill out my DMCA requests.

Look to either the header or footer of the pirated site you’re on for a link that says “DMCA Complaint,” “Copyright Complaint” or “Contact”. They will most likely have instructions on how to file a complaint, but if all you come across is an e-mail address, below is the information you need to include in your message.

First: Include the link to the exact page where your book is being downloaded from. is my copyrighted book and has been illegally uploaded to your site.

Second: I always include my copyright page and a link to where my book can be bought.
This book can be purchased here: and below is the information from my copyright page.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.


Copyright © 2014 by Lauryn April

All Rights Reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of this publication may be made without written permission of the author. No paragraph of this publication may be reproduced, copied, or transmitted save with the written permission of the author.

Edited by Victoria Shockley
Cover Design by Lauryn April

A Phantom Owl Press Book

ISBN-13: 978-0991576210

Next: You must include this statement.
"I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed."

Lauryn April

Finally: You need to let them know how they can get ahold of you.
You can contact me at

The Ninja Wins! by Andrew Becraft

I Hope this post helps authors fight piracy. Please comment below, share your experiences, thoughts and advice.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like The Piracy Plague: Why it Hurts (Not Helps) Authors


  1. Thanks for the great info! Publishing my first book in Dec 2014 and I'm sure I will need this!

  2. Truer words have never been spoken. Online data is currently in a state of flux, as computers are in a process of change. Some seize this by getting into cloud storages and social media sites and stealing as many data as they can. So what you really need now is to have copies your files offline, or simply find a better cloud storage.

    Katherine @ 1iX


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