I think it was Hugh Howey who once said that one of the best things an author can do to build a brand and increase sales is to give books away. At the end of the day if you want to attract readers then free and cheap books will do that for sure. If you also have a back catalogue of paid for books ready and available, those free readers might check out your other stuff and start buying from you. Your number one goal as a new or established author is to get your books out there and gain lots of readers and fans. The rest should grow naturally.
Free books are also a great way to get people interested in a series. By giving the first book away free (or cheaply), readers may want to gobble up the remaining paid for books. It’s a tactic often applied and can work very well.
Making a book free through Kobo, Barnes&Noble, Google Play and Apple books is easy. I’ve also used the publishing aggregator Draft2Digital and the process is again, very simple. Amazon on the other hand won’t allow free books outside of their KDP Select program (where you can offer a book for free for up to 5 days out of every 90 days). They also say they no longer price match so your eBook can never be any less than 0.99…or can it?
I’ve read numerous articles where authors have asked Amazon to price match their book against other stores that offer it for free, and in most cases this has been successful. Amazon want to remain competitive and seem happy to match other retailers in this situation. The trick is to simply ask them to do it and provide links and examples to where it is free. Here’s what I did:
Email sent through KDP via this route: Help >>> Contact us (button) >>> Amazon Product Page >>> Price Matching.
Hello my book ‘The Girl in Time’ by Logan Brookfield is currently free on Kobo, Apple Books and Barnes and Noble. Could you please price match this on Amazon to make the price free. Thank you.
ASIN of my book: B01N3716Q2
I received a reply from Amazon saying that they will look into this. Nothing seemed to be happening, so after one week had passed I sent a follow up (replying to their original reply). After two weeks I sent another follow up. Each time I had an apology to say it was being looked into. Finally after just over two weeks I noticed that free downloads were being recorded in my reports, even though the price still showed as 0.99 on Amazon. Rather than questioning this I let a few days pass and sure enough, the price changed to zero. I’m guessing that the pricing information gets cached and can take a few days to reflect the actual price on the Amazon.
So if you want to offer ‘permafree’ books and are outside of KDP Select, then contact Amazon as I did above. Offer examples of where it is free and be patient, it might take a few weeks for this to happen. They’re more likely to price match the main players so make sure it’s free on Kobo and Barnes&Noble for example.
I did read a recent blog post where an author had successfully got their book made free through price matching, but then couldn’t get Amazon to increase the price when he wanted to make it a paid book again. Even though it was a paid for book on other stores and he’d set the price to 0.99 within the book details on Amazon, it remained at zero.
The above was my experience, yours may differ. Please leave a reply if you have any questions or any of your own experience.