Tag Archives: DRM

Obscurity – Not Piracy – Is Your Enemy

Ghost Town

Are You Selling In A Ghost Town?

I recently taught a class for Do It Yourself Publishers.

I love teaching this class, because it has become so easy for aspiring and first time authors to get their books on Amazon. In the class, I encourage new authors to explore all their options, including ebooks and audio books.

Invariably, someone is intrigued by ebooks but too concerned by the ease with which digital content can be copied, passed around, and pirated to follow that path

Here’s the sad truth: no one knows your book exists. And if you aren’t making any money from the book, why would someone else want to pirate it?

Piracy is a commercial operation. It is profit driven.

No profit = no pirates.

Simple as that.

However, there is another form of copying known as file sharing, where enthusiasts and fans pass around books and music and TV shows and movies that they love, sharing them freely with each other. Filesharing is a social phenomena. It is word of mouth marketing at its simplest.

Big business likes to paint file sharing with the same brush as piracy, but the truth is more nuanced.


You are a published author now. Your challenge is to reach every single potential reader of your work.

Would you try to prevent libraries from buying your (paperback) book because entire cities will be able to read it for free? Or do you believe that the increased visibility and word of mouth publicity may eventually result in increased sales.

Would you prefer than no one ever lends your (paperback) book to a friend with the words, “You have got to read this book!”? Or do you want to encourage your most ardent fans to spread the word far and wide, and maybe even buy extra copies of your book to give away as gifts?

Then why do the rules change when the content is digitally delivered?

If someone buys your ebook and passes it on to a friend, do you profit more by treating those two people as thieves or as fans?

Obscurity is the enemy of first time authors. You cannot overcome it without help. You need talkers and shouters and fans of every stripe. You need to coddle, encourage, and nurture them.

Your challenge, as the publisher, is to take a potential loss and turn it into a gain.

  • Be sure that your web site is included prominently on every ebook
  • Always make it easy to purchase the ebook
  • Offer buyers a reward – anything from a forum to discuss the book to a podcast
  • Have an upsell ready and available on your web site.
  • Treat all your readers as valued friends

You won’t turn every lost sale into gold – but you will turn readers into repeat customers. Have some faith in the quality of your work. Let the people who like it enough to share it be the sales force you can’t afford to hire.

Photo by JC Olivera Released under Creative Commons License