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"Piracy as a Marketing Tool"
Piracy as a Marketing Tool
Now wait just a minute! Running heads, table of contents, even the flipping copyright page, okay, but -- but -- but.....
Piracy. Yeah. I said it.
Best-selling authors Cory Doctorow and Neil Gaiman have both been pleasantly pirated. In Gaiman's case, sales of the book being pirated increased 300%! Publisher Brian O'Leary of O'Reilly says "Data that we collected for the titles O’Reilly put out showed a net lift in sales for books that had been pirated. So, it actually spurred, not hurt, sales." (Digital Book World)
I'm not promising that will work for you. But if you're willing to go all-in, here's a deliciously Machivellian idea for you to consider:
Don't give your book out free. Pirate copies are actually better than free copies. If you give away free copies, then you're down there with the public-domain books and the ones where the author tried to sell it, didn't, and then decided just to give it away to help their ego, or boost their rank.
A pirated copy on the other hand, means somebody stole it. Pirates don't steal worthless junk, they steal valuable treasure. If your book is being pirated, it's worth more than free, by definition.
So how do you get pirated when you can't even get noticed? Okay, this is the sneaky part. First, price your book very high. If you're with Amazon, take the lower percentage (you don't care, you're not going for sales, remember?) so you can go up to $200. I wouldn't go that high (that might be obvious) but go over the $10-limit Amazon has trained readers to expect. Make is $22.50.
When you announce that the new book is out, apologize a little for the price, but make it clear that you worked long and hard on this book, and you think the reader will agree that it's worth it.
Wait a week, then go to some Pirate Bay, and post a pirated copy of your own book. Wait a few days, then start blogging about how people are stealing your work and how evil pirating is, how authors won't write if they can't get paid, yada, yada. Call out the pirate site (with clickable url, wink, wink) and threaten to file charges.
Then go post your book on another pirate site. Get a confidante to play Troll on your comment widget. "If your price wasn't so outrageous" vs "I have a right to price what I think is fair." "You're just greedy!" vs "You're a common thief!" "Ivory Tower!" -- "Scurvy Dog!"
Stir it up 'til it's nice and frothy (evil grin).
Then publish the next book. Be a little contrite -- you've learned your lesson -- and drop the price to something reasonable, and while you're at it, drop the price of the first book, too.
If your first book really was good, you'll have a line of readers waiting for the next one. Your second book will get pirated with no help from you, but if you really are good, that was going to happen anyway.
You're not seriously advocating this, are you?
No, no, of course not. (Glances around room, whistles tunelessly.)
But it might work.
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© 2012 Gideon Stevens