The Pirate Author Code

Welcome to the Pirate Publishing Community

First, a Greeting

Whether you're wondering what the deal is with the maniacal pirate head, or you've clicked here intentionally to join the ranks of those who claim to be Pirate Authors, you're in the right spot. This is the official landing page of the Pirate Publishing Community. We welcome all Pirate Authors. The initiation is painless and available to all color, ability, creed, and orientation...mind that ye adhere to the Pirate Author Code that ye will find below.


1) Pirate Authors are beholden to reader engagement.

Engagement Vs. Conversion

We've been set up to fail because we've been tricked to gauge our success by the wrong metrics. The metrics we've been spoon-fed are for tracking consumer conversions rather than reader engagement.

"What's the big diff?" you may ask...if you grew up in the eighties. Well, my fellow Generation Xer, the big diff is that conversion gauges the effectiveness of your marketing package. Engagement gauges the effectiveness of your storytelling. Which is a better indicator of your success as an author? (Hint, the answer is engagement.)

I hate to be the one to tell you this, and by "hate" I mean "relish," but if you are generating written content and you are concerned about conversion at the expense of engagement, you are an information dealer concerned about quick payouts via spammy content over quality storytelling. (Oofah!)

I'm not saying you shouldn't be concerned about conversion. Of course, you can't engage a reader unless you first convert that reader as a consumer. But Pirate Authors understand that conversion metrics such as reviews, rankings, and royalties are for evaluating the effectiveness of marketing success and not author success.

For evaluating success as a writer, Pirate Authors rely on metrics such as read-through and direct call-to-action click-through (ie. ask people to do something and track the percentage of them that do it). These metrics can tell you how much a reader is engaged with your Author Brand. Now that you have an Author Brand, it's time to protect it.

2) Pirate Authors cover their assets.

Author Brand Vs. Broker Brand

This is one of those things we have to hold as an ideal while accepting that our reality ain't gonna reach that ideal much of the time. But hey, pirates should be comfortable with shades of grey. Some trade-offs are absolutely worth it. That doesn't mean we shouldn't dream of a perfect world were those trade-offs aren't necessary.

Maintaining ownership of assets comes into play more with contracts and traditional publishing, but we need to be mindful of ownership when signing with Audible and other platforms as well. Pirate Authors spend time understanding rights and intellectual property.

Control of assets deals with the two-sided coin of distribution and discoverability and includes such things as pricing, exposure, exclusivity, DRM, meta-data, and branding. As with ownership, there may be times that giving over control is worth the value you're getting in return.

Access overlaps with ownership and control but differs enough to be mentioned separately. Think of access as the amount of information and data pertaining to your assets that you are given...well, access to. Do you know the names or emails of your readers? Are you allowed to contact them?

As writers, we spend our creative lives making assets. If commercialized, those assets will belong to someone. That someone will most likely be us or an information broker. Pirate Authors fight to maintain as much ownership, control, and access to their assets as feasible in order to emphasize their Author Brand over broker brands as much as possible.

3) Pirate Authors grow brand loyalty.

Loyalty Vs. Friction

This tenet is less about who owns the brand and more about the methods used to grow the brand. StoryShop has an internal policy known as "Trips Neg D." This moniker is short for "Don't be a dick, douche, or dumbass." We're quite serious about this policy as a guiding force on all of our relationships and business practices. Anything less will generate friction between us and our audience.

The same goes for Pirate Authors. If brand loyalty is what you want, then don't be a dick. That's what information dealers are all about. If a marketing tactic feels sleazy to you, then find something more authentic to your brand.

Paid advertising is friction. This friction can be mitigated when advertising is done well, but it will always be friction.

I hear the masses crying out, "How the hell am I supposed to market my content without paid advertising!?" I'm not insisting we abandon paid ads. In the current market, it is next to impossible to find traction without them. Pirate Authors must be mindful of the friction these ads generate for their readers in order to maintain a higher ledger of loyalty.

In addition to the innate friction generated by legitimate ads, the increasing abuse of paid advertising by information dealers will increase this friction which will in-turn lead to diminishing returns for legitimate ads. So to sum up, expect increasing friction and diminishing returns from any paid advertising system.

All of this is the reason why Pirate Authors should not abandon tried-and-true methods of loyalty marketing and traction building. When done well, email marketing, content marketing, and community building generate loyalty. Popular examples are thought leaders such as Seth Godin and Tim Ferriss or companies such as Patagonia and Zappos. Connect readers with your author brand and provide them value on a regular basis.

4) Pirate Authors sail as a Pirate Crew.

Collaboration Vs. Isolation

While a pirate I be, it's not the lonely life for me. I draw within myself when I put words to the page, but I don't create content in a relational vacuum. I need my pirate crew. I think we all do. Storytelling is a collaborative process. The richer our relationships, and the richer our collaborations, the richer our stories will be.

On top of it all, the result of being constantly assaulted by information dealers is isolation. We are being prodded and provoked into "us vs. them" groupings in order to be targeted more efficiently by adverts. Reading and writing needs to bring us together.

The only "us vs. them" we should acknowledge is Pirate Authors vs. Information Dealers.

Pirate Authors are intentional to sail as part of a crew. Support each other. Invest in each other.

5) Pirate Authors support the broader Pirate Community.

Abundance Vs. Scarcity

Pirate Authors live out of a world-view based on abundance. Creativity itself insists on a foundation of abundance. By snatching words or images out of the air, do we deplete the available stock of creativity? Preposterous!

By shaping words into story we make the world richer. And the more those stories are shared, the richer we all become! Share your maps with other ships. Inform other crews of potential hazards. We can never out-write the global demand for reading, as long as we are working together to strengthen and protect the storytelling industry.

For the time being, paid advertising pits us against each other (as we attempt to outbid each other for eyeballs), while also adding friction to the reader's experience. But our competition is not other authors. Our competition is the information dealers and their efforts to tear down our industry by pumping it full of bilge and by polluting our reader's expectations and trust.

To succeed over the longterm, the publishing industry must find a means to connect the abundant creativity of storytelling with our abundant audience without brokering the connection with an ecosystem built on a foundation of competition and scarcity.

Between now and then, Pirate Authors will counter the brokers and the dealers by refusing to be isolated. By fostering community, we will pioneer a solution.


The Call to Action: Pirate Publishing's Promise

Together, as pirate authors, we can force a better future. We can take back the high seas from the dealers who would profit on human division and fear-mongering. We can craft stories that entertain, inform, and empower. We can advocate for and incentivize the emergence of a platform driven by connectivity and empathy rather than competitive ad spend and the bottom dollar.

These are the goals of the Pirate Author. There are two possible ways by which we will accomplish them. When our numbers swell to the tipping point we will either:

  1. spur the necessary changes or
  2. orchestrate them ourselves.

But to achieve this goal of prompting or building a platform that connects readers with writers according to the five tenets of the Pirate Author Code, we must swell the ranks of those who would profess allegiance to the Code!

Step One:

We ask that Pirate Authors first pledge allegiance to the Code by adding your email to the form below. (This list will receive email rarely and only when there are announcements of utmost importance regarding Pirate Publishing.)


The Pirate Author Emblem can also be found as a "community stamp" via Book Brush with a paid account.

Step Two:

We ask that Pirate Authors spread the word about the Pirate Author Code by using this free tool to generate the watermark of the Pirate Author Emblem (floating pirate head) on any and all visuals used for marketing your content and/or brand. When possible, link interested authors back to this page and/or the more detailed post.

Instructions: To use the image tool, click the camera icon to add your image. The image can be a maximum of 1000px wide. Then click on the image anywhere in order to be able to save the image. Once you have saved the image, you will be able to see the watermark on the bottom left corner! Then you can download the image and use as you see fit!

Load Any Image and Add the Pirate Author Emblem as a Watermark

Power to the Pirate Authors. #PiratePublishing