What Author Paulo Coelho Can Teach Us About Voice and Book Promotion

A couple of weeks ago, we blogged about building a personal brand and the power of voice in book promotion. A number of you asked us to provide examples of writers who have successfully developed a voice for sharing their work with readers. Originally, we planned to highlight a number of authors who do this fairly well, but then we serendipitously entered the world of author Paulo Coelho…and we were wowed!

Best known for his novel The Alchemist, this amazingly successful author models the power of voice in everything he does, including speaking to his audience and talking about his work.

Let’s start with a quick look at Coelho’s credentials:

  • He has sold more than 145 million books worldwide, despite the fact that The Alchemist – after an initial print run of only 900 copies – was dropped by its first publisher.
  • In 2009, he received the Guinness World Record for most translated living author. His books are available in more than 80 languages and 170 countries.
  • Coelho is said to have the most social followers of any writer in the world. More than 11 million people like his main Facebook page and more than 8 million people follow him on Twitter.
  • As of this week, The Alchemist has enjoyed 263 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. No other book on the list even comes close.

How did Coelho achieve this massive platform and become one of the most influential writers of our time? He did the hard work necessary to discover and cultivate his voice as a writer. As a result, his public voice is authentic, magnetic and unique. It is a natural extension of his creative life.

How would we describe Paulo Coehlo’s brand or characterize his public voice? Spiritual, humble, generous, fearless, inspired, purposeful, faithful, kind, honest, wise, quiet, bold, principled, unique, mission driven, committed, unpretentious, grateful, open…

How do we know so much about Coelho? Through his books, blogs and social streams. Take a look at his Twitter feed. You’ll find nothing fancy there. His bio is a single word, “writer.” His tweets consist of ideas he wishes to share — “fear can be very helpful by helping us understand the present moment.” There are also inspirational quotes from his books, retweets of articles that interest him and links to his blog posts. He uses Twitcam from time to time to live stream and answer questions from his readers directly. He communicates in three languages, Spanish, Portuguese and English. He is honest and open. He tells simple but powerful stories. He says thank you often.

Read Coelho’s blog. His posts are short and inspirational, much like his books. He posts often. Here’s a recent sample, called “Forget this Idea of Seeking Happiness.”

Watch Coelho’s YouTube videos. They aren’t highly polished or heavily produced, but they are from the heart. He shares his journey, his stories and what he has learned along the way. Here’s a video called, “On Writing.”

Pay attention to how Coelho talks to readers and the actions he takes. He addresses them as friends, as he believes in the interconnectedness of humanity. He regularly gives them gifts without asking for anything in return because he also believes in the power of generosity.

So here’s the takeaway. Study what Coelho has done to build his empire. You’ll find he didn’t start with traditional promotion, he began by doing the hard work to find his voice as a writer. Only then, did he share his voice with the world. Like Coelho, commit to building a foundation for your writing life. Figure out who you are and what you have to say. Find your voice as a writer and then don’t be afraid to share it with the world. When it comes to book promotion, this will make all the difference.


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