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Many authors are terrified that readers will steal their work. They don’t realize their true enemy is obscurity, not piracy.

If a million people “steal” your book, you win. You now have a million people who know who you are. Some of them will want a signed paper copy. Some will want to pay to hear you speak. Some of them will talk about you to their friends who will pay for a copy.

As long as you get credit, you win when people share your book with others. Books that sell well spread from person to person like a virus. The harder you make it to share your work the more obscure you will be.


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Piracy is Viral

Imagine if church small group leaders started copying chapter 5 out of your book to study at meetings. Would having everyone read chapter 5 hurt you or help you? I submit that this is amazing marketing. Because now people who had no idea who you were before are now reading what you have to say. They are way more likely to buy your book than before it was “stolen.”

I was at a writer’s conference recently where an editor at a major publishing company confided in me. She said that one of her authors had uploaded his own book to some bit torrent pirate sites. The result was that tens of thousands of people downloaded his book illegally. You know what happened next? His sales went up.


According to a recent study by Columbia University Music Pirates actually buy 30% more music than non-pirates. But more than that. Having thousands of people talking about your book will boost sales amongst more honest readers.


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How Authors Can Win from “Piracy”

  • You win because your platform grows, you can book more speaking engagements at higher prices.
  • They win because they can use your work to minister to others.
  • Your publisher wins free marketing. Your publisher spends a lot of time and money trying to get people to talk about your book. Books sell from word of mouth. Allowing people to share your work turns them into evangelists for free! More talk = more sales.

What do you think?

Do you agree that it is smart to allow people to share and even remix your work? Does the idea scare you? How do you make it easy for people to share your work?

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