Looking to Pirate My Books? (Part Two)

I have had my “Looking to Pirate My Books?” post up on my blog for well over a year. Though the post was very difficult and upsetting to write, I’m so, so glad I did it–it was one of the best decisions I ever made. By being vulnerable enough to talk about something that everyone says authors shouldn’t talk about, I opened a dialogue between myself and people who were looking to pirate my books.

Because of my offer to give away any of my books rather than see them be pirated, I have given away hundreds of eCopies of my books from people who–shocked–emailed me to see if what I’d written was true. And, yes, a very, very few people have said some nasty things (like, “I’ve always pirated your books and I will continue to pirate your books. Authors shouldn’t be paid anything for their work” was one of the hardest things to read). But the majority of people have been OVERWHELMINGLY supportive. Most people, upon reading the post, email me to say that they had no idea that authors really do need money to survive. That they thought I was a “big time” author who lived in a mansion and had several cars (was actually an email someone sent me! 🙂 ). Most people just needed to be told that I’m an actual human being, who actually needs to eat, and that changed people’s minds.

I’ve given away many, many copies to people who just can’t genuinely afford the books. I know what that’s like, and I would rather give away a book than have someone who so desperately wants a moment of laughter or escape go without that. Books are so important. They are full of happiness and escape when the going gets rough. They can be such good friends when the world is a hard place to be. Books have saved my life several times, so I understand that.

But, today, I actually amended my post–the first time since writing it that I’ve added a postscript. Because in the past few months, the emails have somewhat changed. People still email me asking for books for the reasons I’ve given above…

But, lately, SO MANY lesbian teens have reached out to me. And they’ve been so vulnerable with their stories, telling me that they have terrible home lives. That, if a lesbian book was found on their person, they would probably be made homeless. Or their safety would be called into question.

I suffered through horrific physical and mental abuse by my religiously conservative parents from the age of fifteen–the age I came out–because they hated the fact that they had a lesbian daughter. By the age of eighteen, I had been made homeless because I was a lesbian. When these emails reach me, they break my heart into a million pieces. I remember what it was like, so vividly, searching the libraries for a book about someone like me. A girl who loved girls. And, in my tiny, conservative home town, I NEVER found a book about someone like me. It’s honestly why I started writing the books I do. I wanted, so much, to read a story about a woman who fell in love with another woman, a love story that would make the hard life I was living a little bit better.

I don’t have a hard life anymore. I’m married to the love of my life, and I am estranged from my parents who made my life a living hell. My days are no longer filled with terror and tears–they are filled with laughter and kisses and soft touches and kindness. They are filled with light.

So I added an addendum to my post. If anyone reaches out to me for a book, I will always give it to them. But the addendum calls out, specifically, the lesbian teens who are so hungry for a book about someone like them. Who need that book in a safe format so that their parents won’t find it and hurt them because they have it.

Books save lives. They have saved mine. And if I can make one life a tiny bit better with my books–well. That’s the reason I write them. ♥

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About Bridget Essex

Author of lesbian romances; madly in love with my wife, author Natalie Vivien.
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