NY Times interview, Sept 26

Q. When did you decide to become a writer?

A. It took me 40 years to write my first book. When I was a child, I was encouraged to go to school. I was not encouraged to follow the career of a writer because my parents thought that I was going to starve to death. They thought nobody can make a living from being a writer in Brazil. They were not wrong. But I still had this call, this urge to express myself in writing.

Q. Your most famous book, “The Alchemist,” has sold 65 million copies worldwide. Does its continuing success surprise you?

A. Of course. It’s difficult to explain why. I think you can have 10,000 explanations for failure, but no good explanation for success.

Q. You’ve also had success distributing your work free. You’re famous for posting pirated version of your books online, a very unorthodox move for an author.

A. I saw the first pirated edition of one of my books, so I said I’m going to post it online. There was a difficult moment in Russia; they didn’t have much paper. I put this first copy online and I sold, in the first year, 10,000 copies there. And in the second year it jumped to 100,000 copies. So I said, “It is working.” Then I started putting other books online, knowing that if people read a little bit and they like it, they are going to buy the book.

To read the full interview, please CLICK HERE

This interview will be in the print edition of The New York Times tomorrow, September 27, the same day that ALEPH will be released in USA and Canada.


  1. Haiku says:

    Just picked up Aleph today and began reading about 2 hours ago and decided to take a break to eat and stopped at the Sharing Souls chapter! PHENOMENAL!!!! I love how with all of your books, with the conclusion of reading one chapter you just can’t hurry along to the next, but I always find myself taking a moment to exhale, closing my eyes and listening to my soul’s response to what I’ve read. I have tried to immediately keep onto the next chapter but its as if those few moments of contemplation and revelation are necessary I found myself stopping constantly throughout the “Chinese Bamboo” chapter reflecting and smiling, remembering and having “aha-moments” and able to again….exhale with relief and jubilee!

    Just wanted to post a HUGE THANK YOU once again Mr. Coelho!!!! I appreciate your work and your gift so much!!!!!! My soul rejoices whenever I read your work ….WIth every book of yours that I have read each one was read at a pivotal point in my life that caused a ripple effect like change for the better! Its like my soul attending a reunion and being at home with family!!!!!!!

    On a day like today with various things that have transpired, having Aleph to read this evening is definitely a synchronistic blessing, and a GOD -SENT MIRACLE!!

    THANK YOU Paulo ever so much for sharing! xoxoxox (hugs and kisses)

    thank you. I am re-posting this comment in http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2010/08/10/o-aleph-comentarios-de-leitores/

  2. Olta Canka says:

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand a big Hip Hip HURRAYYY for Paulooooooo!!!!
    Wish to see you and your work higher and higher! Wish to know you being loved by more and more people, and if you mind having no enemies, than I wish for you to be appreciated from everyone!
    And I know that so it will be, so so be it!

    <3 <3 <3 :)

  3. Olta Canka says:

    Justin Bieber, Madonna or whoever else, you GOT the WORLDWIDE attention Paulo, the only difference is that your image doesn’t appear as much as them on the worldwide TV as theirs. So we have to know them since we have to see them, whether we like them or not, but you are popular because you are read/liked.
    That’s the mystery! :P

    You are so popular that now, at LEAST one in three persons that I meet must have read AT LEAST one of your books. So I am sure that even when I have nothing to talk about to someone, you, your books could be a very interesting topic of conversation. :)
    Of that I am sure, if you haven’t more followers yet, that’s because many still don’t know about you on twitter, facebook or your blog. :)))
    Sooo wait and see. :DDDD

    Well, modesty apart! ;)

    Lots of Love <3

  4. I am so exciting … can’t wait for 6pm UK time. WIll I be able to join you live? heheheh I hope so…. wow first time to talk to you directly! Wooowowww.w….. :)

  5. KHALED_1981 says:


  6. Lonie Moon says:

    I just read your interview in NYT and what a surprise!!! I didn’t expect a famous writer like yourself to tweet!!! It’s rather a pleasant surprise : )
    I stumbled upon your famous book, The Alchemist, in a public library when I was studying in Vancouver, Canada. The book wasn’t very well known back then and when I first picked up the book from the corner of a small bookshelf I really didn’t expect much, judging from its ‘thin’ volume.
    But when I finished reading the book…I felt like I was electrified! The book was PERFECT! The next day I ran to a bookstore, bought the book and underlined all my favorite lines. So I want to thank you for writing such a perfect book and hope, one day I get to meet you in person! : )

  7. Sobre o que vocíª disse ontem,hoje e o que dirá amanhí£ só me deixa mais curiosa, faminta,orgulhosa e grata por tudo que divide conosco. Abraí§os

  8. Alexandra says:

    I am trying to write, and is going so hard. I really see now better that is not easy to write, so not easy having success. Thank you for your books. The pirate idea works on same principle of the prohibited things, if you forbid, people will do it more, if you give freedom, they think better. I guess. Much love

  9. HECTOR says:


  10. Heart says:

    As Annie and Kealan say. You rock!! And Aleph Rocks!! Fantastic article in New York Times & I like the photo with you dressed in black in front of bricks. Tomorrow it is…USA. We are READY .. speed it up…let it be 1:00 pm.. let Amazon deliver my copy…May Aleph be as successful as the Alchemist..

  11. Cristina says:

    Amei a entrevista !!! Vc é o máximo , Guerreiro.

  12. Leandro says:

    Eu como brasileiro tenho que dizer algo sobre esta entrevista . NY Times Um dos melhores jornais do mundo elogiando o trabalho do Paulo Coelho e aqui no Brasil ? A critica é desleal . O mesmo que acontece com o Paulo , aconteceu com o Raul , seu parceiro musical . A mí­dia brasileira é hipócrita , em quanto está vivo todos tratam mal , depois que morrem , viram mitos , í­dolos , gíªnios . Por que tem que ser assim ?

    ops esqueci sobre os ví­deos .

  13. Leandro says:

    Eu como brasileiro tenho que dizer algo sobre esta entrevista . NY Times Um dos melhores jornais do mundo elogiando o trabalho do Paulo Coelho e aqui no Brasil ? A critica é desleal . O mesmo que acontece com o Paulo , aconteceu com o Raul , seu parceiro musical . A mí­dia brasileira é hipócrita , em quanto está vivo todos tratam mal , depois que morrem , viram mitos , í­dolos , gíªnios . Por que tem que ser assim ?

  14. Paulo, you deserve all you have gotten because you have been honest with you and the people around. Nothing can goes wrong that way.

    I admire you so much!

  15. Morten says:

    What are your thoughts in this tool – the blog media?

    As a reader of your books it seems like you are getting so much closer to the source – the author.

    I believe that you are one of the authors that has really managed to understand the way to use the new medias to your advantage and the benefits of your readers. :-)

    Anyways… have a great day!

  16. Marie-Christine says:

    Traduction en francais
    Interview du New York Times

    Question – Le personnage de votre nouveau roman ‘Aleph’ semble familier: un auteur a succes, globe-trotter, chercheur spirituel. Combien il a t’il d’autobiagraphique dans ce livre?

    Reponse – Cent pour cent. C’est ma propre experience, je veux dire par la que tout ce qui est vrai est arrive.J’ai du beaucoup le resumer. Mais en fait, je vois le livre comme mon propre voyage, non pas comme un livre de fiction mais comme un livre de non-fiction.

    Q- Le titre du livre ‘Aleph’ reflete le nom d’une breve histoire par Borges. Vous a-t-il influence?

    R -C’est mon icon, le meilleur ecrivain de ma generation. Mais je n’ai pas ete influence par lui. J’ai ete influence par l’idee de l’aleph, le concept. Dans la tradition classique des livres spirituels Borges resume tres tres bien l’idee de ce point ou tout devient une seule chose.

    Q- Quand avez-vous pris la decision de devenir ecrivain?

    R- J’ai mis quarante ans pour ecrire mon premier livre. Lorsque j’etais enfant on m’encourageait pour aller a l’ecole. Je n’ai pas ete encourage pour faire une carriere d’ecrivain parce que mes parents pensaient que j’allais mourir de faim. Ils pensaient que personne ne pouvait vivre du metier d’ecrivain au Bresil. Ils n’avaient pas tort. Mais j’avais cet appel en moi, ce desir de m’exprimer par l’ecriture.

    Q- Votre livre le plus connu ‘L’Alchimiste’ a ete vendu a plus de 65 millions d’exemplaires dans le monde entier. Est-ce que ce continuel succes vous surprend?

    R- Bien sur. C’est difficile d’expliquer pourquoi. Je crois que l’on peut avoir 100,000 explications pour l’echec mais aucune bonne explication pour le succes.

    Q- Distribuer gratuitement votre travail est egalement une reussite. Vous etes connu pour poster des versions pirates de vos livres en ligne, une methode pas tres orthodoxe pour un auteur.

    R- J’ai vu la premiere edition pirate de mes livres et je me suis dit : ‘Je vais le publier en ligne’. C’etait un moment difficile en Russie, ils n’avaient pas beaucoup de papier. J’ai mis ce premier exemplaire et j’ en ai vendu dans la premiere annee 10,000. Alors j’ai pense : ‘Ca marche’. Puis j’ai essaye de mettre d’autres livres en ligne, sachant que si les gens lisent un petit peu et que cela leur plait, ils iront acheter le livre. Les chiffres augmentaient de plus en plus et un jour que je participais a une conference de technologie de pointe, je l’ai annonce au public.

    Q- N’aviez vous pas craint de mettre votre Maison d’Edition contre vous?

    R- Evidemment, j’avais peur. Mais c’etait trop tard. Lorsque je suis rentre chez moi, le premier coup de fil fut pour mon Editeur aux U.S.A. Elle m’a dit : ‘Nous avons un probleme.’

    Q- Vous faites allusion a Jane Friedman qui etait a cette epoque la tres influente directrice d’Harper Collins?

    R- Oui, Jane. Elle n’est pas commode. Elle m’a appele et je lui ai dit :’Jane que voulez-vous que je fasse? Elle a repondu :’Faisons-le officiellement, deliberement.’ Grace a elle, ma vie aux USA a change.

    Q- A present, vous occupez le devant de la scene en ligne. Etes-vous un fanatique de Twitter?

    R- Oui, je l’avoue, en public. Je Tweete le matin et le soir. Ecrire douze heures par jour, il arrive un moment ou vous etes fatigue. C’est mon moment de relaxation.

    Q- C’est une approche inverse des autres ecrivains comme Jonathan Franzen, qui se ferment les yeux et ecrivent leurs livres en isolement.

    R- Au commencement de l’ecriture, ils avaient l’habitude de voir les ecrivains comme des hommes et des femmes sages dans une Tour d’ivoire, rempli de connaissance et on ne pouvait pas les toucher. La Tour d’ivoire n’existe plus. Si un lecteur n’aime pas quelque chose, il vous le dira, Il ou elle n’est pas quelqu’un qui est isole.
    Une fois que je me suis rendue compte de la perspective pour utiliser Twitter et Facebook et mon blog pour me rapprocher d’eux et partager mes pensees que je ne peux utiliser dans le livre. Aujourd’hui, j’ai 6,000,000 de personnes sur Facebook. J’ai verifie la page de Madonna l’autre jour et elle a moins de supporters que moi. C’est incroyable.

    Q- Vous etes plus important que Madonna?

    R- Non, non, non, je ne dis pas cela.

  17. Annie says:

    “Today I have on Facebook six million people. I was checking the other day Madonna’s page, and she has less followers than I have. It’s unbelievable.”

    unbelievably AWESOME!! you are a rock star! :)

    loved the interview!thank you!
    tomorrow BIG exciting day!!

    Love and Gratitude