Making your ebook free on Amazon

Posted by Paul Samael on Tuesday, March 30, 2021 Under: Self-publishing

As I've mentioned in previous posts, downloads of my novel on Smashwords seem to be tailing off.  I can hardly complain, because it's been up on there almost 9 years now and I've had a pretty good run - but it has made me look at various ways I can make it available to readers who don't frequent Smashwords or the other platforms it's on (e.g. see this post).  I put it up on Amazon as an ebook in late 2018, since when it appears to have had very few downloads.  No doubt this is due to being virtually invisible on their platform, coupled with my rather lackadaisical attitude to promotion (I've done a bit, but obviously not enough to make any difference).   And probably another barrier was that the book was not free on Amazon, whereas it is free on Smashwords and all the other platforms it's on.  So I thought I'd look again at seeing if I could persuade Amazon to make the novel available for free. 

Amazon's default position with ebooks is that they want you to sell them, not give them away for free - although you can set the price pretty low if you want to (which is what I did back in 2018).  If I'd enrolled in KDP Select, then I could have scheduled periods during which it would be made available for free - but as that involves giving Amazon exclusivity, that was never an option for me as it would force me to take my book off all the other platforms it's on (why do that when it gets more downloads from there than it does on Amazon?).  So what do you do if you're not with KDP Select?  Well, it turns out that if you simply ask Amazon via your KDP dashboard, they may agree to price-match your title against other platforms where it is free.  What you need to do is explained here - my thanks to Molly Greene for setting it all out.

So I sent them a message asking if they would price-match against the sites where my book was free.  Under "Additional information", I explained that I wanted to make the book free because it had been hardly downloaded at all - and I wanted to promote it via various websites which push free Amazon ebooks at their readers, with a view to getting more reviews/ratings.  I also pointed out that it had done quite well on Smashwords and said that I thought this suggested there was potential for it do better on Amazon, if only it could garner some reviews/ratings.

Later that same day, I got a message back saying that my request for price-matching had been actioned and I should expect to see a change in price in the next 24 hours. In fact, it took more like 4-5 days, but I'm not complaining because the book is now free on Amazon (even if slightly later than promised).  So do be prepared to be a bit patient with them and maybe give them a week or so before you chase them up.  

I was also a bit concerned that they might take the price-matching off after a relatively short period - which wouldn't give me enough time to promote it.  When I asked about this though, I was told it should remain free for as long as I continue to make it free on other sites that Amazon price-matches against.  So on the face of it, it looks like there is no definite end date - which from my perspective is great because my lackadaisical approach to promotion means I could do with as long as humanly possible.

UPDATE 12.2021:  Alas, it seems the price-matching is not indefinite - Amazon have recently put the price back up to £0.99.  So looks like you need to take an assurances from Amazon about continuing to price-match with a pinch of salt - although in my case it lasted for 6-8 months, which was long enough for me to get a decent number of downloads while it was free.   It looks as if you probably need to keep asking them to price-match whenever you do another promotion, but I will report back on that as and when I've given that a try.

With hindsight, there is one trick that I missed here - which is that I should probably have raised the price of my book and left it at that price for a period before asking Amazon to make it free.  Why bother to do that?  Because when they make it free the crossed out price indicating what it cost before it was free should then be the higher one you selected - and the higher it is, the more of a bargain readers tend to feel that they're getting when it's free.  Contrast that with my book, where the crossed out price is a mere £0.99 - which doesn't exactly make it bargain of the year.  But still, I am hopeful that (as it has done on Smashwords), making it free will reduce the barriers to readers giving it a try.

In : Self-publishing 

Tags: amazon free ebook price-matching 
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About Me

Paul Samael Welcome to my blog, "Publishing Waste" which will either (a) chronicle my heroic efforts to self-publish my own fiction; or (b) demonstrate beyond a scintilla of doubt the utter futility of (a). And along the way, I will also be doing some reviews of other people's books and occasionally blogging about other stuff.
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