This long debated topic of authors being concerned with pirated eBooks arose once again the other week with a conversation with an author and seems to be still making it’s way around the nether-webs on the tongues of writers and authors entering the marketplace.
The real question is…
What can authors continue to do about obscurity?
I wanted to address this issue here. You see ‘obscurity’, not piracy is actually an authors biggest concern. If someone finds a pirated copy that’s one more person that actually now ‘knows’ about you, the undiscovered upcoming author.
If they’re a reader and enjoyed your book, they might just Google you for other books you’ve written to buy.
- Do you have Search Engine Optimization (SEO) working for you, so when these readers type your name or book title into Google, find you?
- Is your book priced well?
If you answered with a resounding ‘yes’ to both of these, you’ve potentially sold another book and piracy has just served as word of mouth marketing. Best-selling author Tim Ferris actually did just this, by giving away parts of the book and lots of content through various sites for free download. This resulted in sales.
The real issue lies with…
No one knowing about you, no one talking about you, no one tweeting about your book and no book clubs sharing your book. This is obscurity and it’s what authors need to focus on overcoming in an ever increasing competitive marketplace.
If the book is good the person will say it was good to friends before they say how they got it. Those ‘friends’ will remember the book title, search it on Amazon and if the book is not over priced they’ll grab it. The high value yet low price point range acts as another filter of convenience.
Pro-active bestselling thinkers
Some authors like J.C. Hutchins and New York Times bestselling author Scott Sigler gave away their books for free in audio book form. This is where they built a loyal fan base as they offered no barrier of entry to try before the buy.
If you could get it for free, why bother looking for a pirate copy right?
Releasing their books for free in this manner actually improved their sales considerably as their now avid fans wanted to have a complete book copy of their new favourite stories and because the books were so competitively priced, it made for an easy decision.
Best selling author Neil Gaiman was quoted in a video interview earlier this year, who came to the conclusion that what piracy really amounted to what was “people lending books“, he said.
[U]nderstanding that gave me a whole new idea of the shape of copyright and what the web was doing. Because the biggest thing the web was doing is allowing people to hear things, allowing people to read things, allowing people to see things they might never have otherwise seen. And I think, basically, that’s an incredibly good thing.”- Neil Gaiman
The real shame here is having the notion of ‘piracy’ paralyze an author, stunting their creative marketing and sales efforts only to then find themselves drowning in obscurity.