Don't Blame 'Piracy' For Your Own Failures To Engage
from the Swing-And-A-Miss dept
"For more than 20 years, I've written and drawn comics for a variety of major publishers: Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image and Disney. Like many artists, I've seen my sales figures chipped away as the print market shrinks due, in no small part, to rampant online piracy."No evidence to back that up, of course. Just a statement of fact, that isn't a fact. Oh well....
"I made my comic series, A Distant Soil, available as a free webcomic less than two years ago. Despite assurances that the many sites pirating my work were doing me a favor with their ďfree advertisingĒ I never saw a single incoming link from them, saw no increase in traffic, and made virtually no money."Hold on, let me get this straight. You offered it for free, the "pirate" sites offered it for free... and you STILL lost traffic to those sites? Methinks perhaps that if you, the creator of the comic, can't differentiate yourself from filesharing sites that offer fans no connection with you, no insight into the work, no expertise in the offering, and no personal involvement with the creator, then that is YOUR problem, not the "pirates." For God's sake, people want your stuff! And you were smart enough to price the content the same as the unauthorized places! All you had left to do was offer them something the pirate sites couldn't, and you'd be home free!
Instead, she expected money to just show up at her doorstep. Which is strange, because money doesn't tend to do that....
"Frequent original content (often pirated the day I post it,) increased my traffic, not pirate "advertising." Pirates draw traffic from my site, and cost me millions of hits annually, which cuts my advertising revenue."Again, in the first sentence she gets it! Keep creating and releasing! If your goal is to draw readers to YOUR site, one way to do that is to ALWAYS have the most up to date offerings of your creative work, and you do that by continuing to create. And pirate SITES don't draw traffic from yours, they draw traffic from the great pool of web surfers. You're both drawing against each other, and YOU have the advantage!
"Readers assume they are only nickel and diming rich corporations with their bit torrent naughtiness, but I am a middle class artist and farmer for whom a few thousand dollars a year in lost income means I can't afford health insurance."Come on now. You're a 47 year old cartoonist/artist that's been pumping out works, both for publishing companies and some self-published, since you were 12 years old. You're a GOOD artist. There's no need to make plays on our sympathies by mentioning the other things you choose to do, like "farming". That isn't what we're talking about. That kind of transparent attempt to play the victim does not move the discussion forward. Oh, and bit torrent naughtiness is a great name for a forward-looking cyberpunk porn thriller....
"Creators and publishers canít compete with free and the frightening reality is that even free isnít good enough. Pirates aggregate content in ways creators and legit publishers canít. Why go to dozens of web pages for entertainment when you can go to a pirate and get everything you want? Thereís no connection to creators as human beings who work hard and make money from that work, and who need income from past work to finance future work."Sigh. Can't compete with free? Then you can't compete period. Because if all you have to offer is what others can manage to offer for free, then you don't actually have anything to offer to start with. Thing is, you DO have something to offer... you just don't seem to want to offer it. Oh, and that last part, about there being no connection between fans and creators? That's YOUR job, not the fans'. You have to make that connection. We're not mindless moths, fluttering about the heat of your light, desperate to slam our bodies against the fixture. You connect with us, since you're doing the selling, not the other way around....
Case in point? Just a few weeks ago, Techdirt had a couple of posts about someone in the IDENTICAL position to you. Comic artist Steve Lieber. Just like you, he had his works "pirated" on these sites. What did he do? He went and engaged with them and realized they were some of his biggest fans and saw his sales jump by a MASSIVE amount.
And that proves the point, doesn't it? It's not the people copying who are the problem. If you actually worked at engaging with the audience and giving them a reason to buy, they will.
"Everyone gets paid -- manufacturers of computers, iPads, electricity, bandwidth -- everyone except the creators of content."Ah, so no content creators are getting paid? Funny, there seems to be an awful lot of stuff out there -- including those in the same position as you. Oh, and the internet isn't NEW anymore, okay? And it has yet to create a barren wasteland devoid of downloadable content. With all the evil piraters out there, how could that be?
"It costs big bucks to finance these pirate sites. Major advertisers and open source ad providers like Google pay them."Google bad? Then why does it feel so good? I assume, since Google is evil, that you have gone directly to your robots.txt and made sure you aren't indexed? Also, it's not Google who's "paying them," which sounds like Google has them on the payroll. They're putting ads on their sites and competing. You can do that too -- and, if you engage with your fans, they'll focus on going to where you want them to go.
The best part is the tagline at the end of the story:
"Colleen Doran is a cartoonist and illustrator with more than 500 credits for companies as diverse as Lucasfilm, Disney, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Random House, Houghton Mifflin, Harper Collins, and Image Comics. Her work includes illustrations for Captain America, Sandman, Wonder Woman, Amazing Spider-man and many others."Again, Colleen, you're just so far ahead of the game here that it almost feels strange to see what you've written. That's quite a list of paid work, some which I imagine you could build upon to solidify your reputation and garner even more paid work. Through your own talent and hard work, you're set up to really be able to work with new media and emerging business models. Why not really dig down and embrace them?