Book promotion: Will you give away your book for free?

After you’ve spent hundreds (thousands) of hours working on your book and getting it published, what would your reaction be if you saw it available for free download on a peer-to-peer file sharing site? My guess is, you wouldn’t be too happy.

Piracy is a big problem wherever Intellectual Property Rights come into picture. This applies to books, music, movies, software and many other products where an idea or concept is packaged usually for commercial gains.

But there’s another school of thought that’s finding new followers (some very prominent and well-respected ones) each day. The idea here is that an author’s basic need is to get more readers. If there’s more awareness for the writer’s work, readers will sooner or later buy legitimate printed copies or ebooks.

One such author who’s built up a huge fan following (with over 3 million Twitter followers and 6.5 million Facebook likes) is Paulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist. On his blog he shares an interesting story of how The Alchemist had very modest sales to begin with and then went on to sell millions of copies.

The initial print run for the book, when it was first published in Russia was 3000 copies. This was the time when Russia was facing a paper shortage. Coelho happened to find an illegal version of his book being circulated on the internet. He posted it on his own website so his fans could download it for free.

Within a year, the sales of his printed books had crossed 10,000. Two years after that the sales had touched 1 million copies…and this was just in Russia. 10 years since then, the book has sold over twelve million copies and going strong!

Coelho believes that his book sales got triggered because he allowed more readers to discover and appreciate his work online.

He has taken the same model to the next level now. He offers ALL his books that are available on peer-to-peer websites on a ‘Pirate Coelho’ website. He says his sales have not been adversely affected by any of the pirated copies being circulated in cyberspace. In fact, it’s just been the contrary.

His latest consolidated sales figure stands at a whopping 140 million copies across the world. I’m not even sure if I have as many cells in my body.

But looking at the silver lining, I’m at the same stage where Shri Coelho was during his first print run. Which means it’s only a matter of 139.999 million copies to go and I have 12 whole years to do so. While I put on my thinking cap, let me know if you have any better ideas on making the goal easier to achieve.

5 Comments

  1. Dr. Urwashi Parmar says:

    No author will like to see his or her book among the pirated stalk of books.

    Probable solutions:

    1. Price the book low no matter where it is kept. Readers do find books at crosswards & simillar book stores priced high. Hence the tendency to buy pirated books.

    2. I am an upcoming ayuthor. I do not buy any form of pirated product. Be it movies, books just anything.

    3. Make genuiene copies of books available to all those gully muhala book sellers who sell pirated versions giving them some incentives.

    4. Adequate marketing so that the readers know the author & the type of his / her book.

    5. Make more stringent laws. But as far as I have known any amount of strict laws will only give more reasons for pirate buisnees people to make more ideas as to how to make money through piracy.

  2. Sameer says:

    Thanks for the ideas, Urwashi.

    Points 1, 3 and 4 are definitely aspects that the author/publisher can directly control.

  3. Nethra says:

    Shelling out everytime a new title hits the stores is definitely a spot of concern for ardent bookworms. Given the number of people waiting to check out that very same book you wanted at the library, readers take to piracy, in order to get their hands on a newbie while it is still hot on the stands.

    Piracy though wrong, manages to satisfy demand via a cheaper route. A reader undestands the impact of an author’s hardwork only when he becomes one himself! Authors could help promote awareness on piracy, beginning with friends and family, who watched him at work and have a better chance of understanding its impact. One step at a time, I guess!

    That said, your blog is a treat to read Sameer 🙂 Great going! Here’s to catching up with Shri Coelho’s print figures pretty soon. Cheers!

  4. Sameer says:

    Well summarised, Nethra. Do we have a consumer psychology book coming out soon?

    Btw, I spent some time on your blog. You write beautifully. Adhi’s story was captivating, funny and well-narrated.

  5. Nethra says:

    Thank you 🙂 You made my day!

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