In the age of ebooks and torrent downloads, I guess its possible to measure the popularity of your novel by how many times it’s stolen. Over the weekend, over a dozen torrent sites popped up with illegal copies of Black Hole Sun. The book is being downloaded faster than Rotarians can pop down a stack of pancakes. The difference is, the Rotarians paid for the pancakes.
Most of the reviews of Black Hole Sun have been overwhelmingly positive and almost to the one, they have asked for a sequel. For that, I’m grateful in ways that I can’t even describe. It’s a good feeling to write something a reader enjoys, and it gives me warm fuzzies to know that they want to know what happens next to the characters (me, too!). The only thing stopping that from happening is sales. If Black Hole Sun sells enough copies, there will be a sequel. If it doesn’t, there won’t. That has nothing to do with artistic vision. It has everything to do with simple economics.
There are some authors, Corey Doctorow most notable among them, who release their work under Creative Commons. I’ve done the same with some of my short stories; however, that choice is the creator’s, not yours. When you illegally download a book, you’re stealing. You are stealing from me, and most, importantly, you are stealing from my publisher.
A publisher does more than print a book. In fact, for an eBook, there’s no printing involved. There is, however, editing, copyediting, book design, jacket design, sales, marketing, and distribution. All of these professionals, who are damn good at their jobs, must earn a living. If they don’t, then they must find other, less rewarding jobs, and there will be no one to produce books.
So if you enjoy my book and the books of other writers, pay for them. Otherwise, there will be no new books. And no carking sequels.