You’ll be hard pressed to find another horror author who gives as much back to his fans as I do. That’s not immodesty or braggadocio. It’s a fact. The reason for that is because I genuinely like 99.9% of you. If I didn’t like you, I wouldn’t have written a free novel for you called Deluge: The Conqueror Worms II, and I wouldn’t have offered it here for free, with the understanding that once it was finished, I’d remove it and then sell it in book form (which is how I make my living).
Recently, I announced a second free book. It was to be called Dead Air. It was to feature Black Lodge in all out war against the Siqqusim. It would have also featured spot illustrations by Steve Wands. It would have been cool. And free. But I’m hesitant to do it now, because this morning, I was alerted to a digital pirated edition of Deluge available online. That didn’t hurt. I’m used to piracy. What hurt was the pirate’s identity. It’s someone who has been a long-time reader. Someone who was an active and valued member of the old Keenedom forum, and indeed, who is active and valued as a reader in the genre. This person even joined in the fight against Dorchester when they were ripping many authors off. Except that he was doing the same by pirating the shit out of our books.
After I sent out the DMCA notices and contacted my attorney and did some digging, I was amazed to find that many of this thief’s cronies were also fans and readers whose screen names I recognized. Some from the old forum. Some from Facebook and Twitter. Some from elsewhere. All good people, or so I thought.
Now, I know not everyone takes the same view of electronic piracy that I do. So before the comments section here gets filled up with excuses from the online piracy apologists, let me play both roles:
ME: Deluge was pirated, and the print edition comes out six months from now.
APOLOGISTS: Well, you did give Deluge away for free when it was on your site, so that’s not a big deal!
ME: Well, they also pirated editions of Dark Hollow, The Rising, City of the Dead, etc.
APOLOGISTS: Well, those aren’t available yet for Kindle and Nook. You’re fans really want to read them bad. You can’t blame them for not being able to wait.
ME: They also pirated Urban Gothic, Shades, the Clickers series, Take The Long Way Home, Castaways, Dead Sea, and everything else that IS currently available for Kindle and Nook.
APOLOGISTS: “Oh… um… well… you’re rich! You can afford it! You’re part of the one percent! Occupy Brian Keene!”
ME: I make, on average, $35,000 a year. Sometimes it’s a little more. Sometimes it’s less. I’m able to survive on that because I live in a rural area. I have two sons, one of whom is in college and the other of whom is in daycare. Both of them require money. So when you steal from me, you are stealing from them. I also have no health insurance, which means I’m paying the hospital bills for my heart attack out of pocket. I also have no 401K and occasionally enjoy paying for things like my house, my groceries, etc. I cannot pay for these things when you steal from me.
2010 and 2011 have shown me betrayal from all sides — old friends, new friends, lovers, peers, and publishers. As the Year of the Hermit (see previous Blog post) begins, I thought to myself, “Well, at least I can still count on my readers.” But apparently, I can exclude about three dozen screen names I recognize from that list. I’m hard-pressed to understand why I should bother investing the time or energy to do Dead Air as a free, weekly serial here when it will just get fucking pirated by a bunch of people to whom mutual respect and appreciation are foreign concepts. If it’s not appreciated, then it seems to me like it would be a lot less strain to just write it and release it the old-fashioned way.
If this upsets you, I’d tell you to take it up with the main offender, but in the last hour, he has apparently deleted both his Facebook and Twitter pages. Make of that what you will. If he’s reading this, a simple apology would have been just as good.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna get back to making Play-Doh Cthulhu with my toddler, who has been waiting patiently while Daddy dealt with this bullshit.
UPDATE: I’ve now heard from several of those involved, both via the comments and via email. In fact, I just heard from the main offender via email and I believe his apology to be sincere. Like many young people, I don’t think he quite understood how such a thing impacts the artist. Now he does, and hopefully others do, as well. So, with that, I’m closing the comments discussion, which has sort of gone sideways with the whole rape discussion anyway.
*I would like to point out that post-heart attack Brian avoided calling anyone out by name in this entry, or starting a flame war that would have yet-again engulfed the genre.
*That is only being pointed out to a handful of people, and each of them knows who they are, and more importantly, they know why it is being pointed out to them, which is why it’s here at the bottom of this post.
*A special “Hi” to those people. And here you thought I wasn’t listening to you…