Mario Lurig: Worried About Piracy? Give Your Book Away.

by Mario Lurig

First and foremost, if you don’t own the digital rights to your book, then this post isn’t for you; you have no say in it anymore (I’m sorry). Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about giving away your book. No, I’m not suggesting you don’t actually sell your book; you should earn some cash for your hard work. However, I am suggesting that not everyone will buy your book. Give them a preview, get them hooked, and they still may not buy it. It’s just the way it is sometimes. Does that make them any less valuable as a fan?

Consider a few reasons someone may not purchase a book and instead are looking for books that are free or they can download illegally:

  • They have limited income (students are a great example)
  • They are unfamiliar with you, the author, and not sure if they will get their money’s worth
  • Familiarity — They have been doing it for so long they don’t know any other way
  • They do not have a legal online book retailer available in their country

Your gut reaction is, “screw them,” and I get it: If they aren’t going to buy your book that their literal value to you is $0. However, there is a different way to use these readers to your advantage, and to do that, you need to make your book available to them. I’m actually suggesting distributing the ePub or PDF version of your book on BitTorrent, a completely legitimate system for distributing files on the Internet, but more commonly associated with being a service for downloading illegal music/movies/TV/books. Specifically, I recommend using the free torrent distribution site Mininova.org.

The individuals who download your book through these services can provide non-financial benefits to you, including: writing positive reviews, sharing it with their social networks, or joining an email list. These are all options to leverage them for exposure, which multiplies the effect of a single download. The question is, how?

Create a promotional edition of your book. It’s a full-fledged copy of your book, but you’ve inserted additional guilt reminders in the book. This should be a brief message at the beginning and end of the book at the very least. The message should encourage them to perform specific tasks to give back after enjoying the free version. Remember, you know how they got the file, so you want to address them directly. Tell them to write a review on Amazon while reminding them they don’t need to purchase a copy to do so, or have them share your book’s webpage to facebook and twitter. What you have them do is completely up to you, but be specific! This is the version of your book that you distribute through Mininova.org. They get what they want (your book for free), and you get what you want (promotion). Win win. Remember, just because they downloaded it for free doesn’t mean you lost a sale, because they wouldn’t have paid for it in the first place. You’ve taken $0 revenue and turned it into free promotion. Here’s an example: http://www.mininova.org/stat/13202179 .

If you don’t think BitTorrent is right for you, then maybe you will be more amenable to offering a PayWithATweet. Offer the same promotional edition of your book through this system, and it asks the recipient to share the title with their social network to download a free copy. Generally, I would recommend this for previews, not a promo edition, but the choice is yours.

About the Author

Mario Lurig is the author of a variety of books, his most recent a work of fiction titled, “My Zombie Body”, is his first work of fiction (available in paperback and e-book). He is donating 50% of royalties to support Child’s Play Charity.

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