How to make your book free on Amazon the old-fashioned (aka the hard) way

Apart from publishing (e)books, LadyLit also offers related services to authors aspiring to self-publish (such as book formatting and web design). On this blog we’d like to share some of our own experiences in the exciting new world of indie publishing and provide some helpful tips along the way.

WetterToday is the unofficial release date of Harper Bliss‘ free short story Wetter. Unofficial because, despite it already being available on Smashwords and Amazon, for now, it’s only free on Smashwords. From experience (with Dirty Pleasure by Lee Harlem Robinson), we know it can take up to two months before Amazon matches the price. But, in our opinion, the wait is definitely worth it.

‘Free’ works, which is why the Amazon KDP Select programme is so popular. Some authors, however, don’t want to give Amazon the exclusive right to sell their e-book. This doesn’t mean they can’t choose to give away free e-books on Amazon. Here’s how you do it.

Amazon automatically price-matches the e-books it sells to other retailers’ prices. Basically, all you’ve got to do is make sure your book is available for free at e.g. Barnes & Noble and you’re good to go. It sounds simple enough, but in reality, it’s more of a waiting game. Here are the steps you need to take.

1. Upload your e-book to Smashwords and make sure it has no auto-vetter errors (if you need help with this bit, check out our e-book formatting service).
2. Upload your e-book to Amazon and price it at $0.99, the lowest price possible.
3. This is where the waiting begins. Amazon doesn’t price-match with Smashwords so you have to wait until your book has made it into Smashwords’ premium catalogue and is distributed to B&N, Kobo, Diesel, Apple and Sony. Getting into the premium catalog takes 2 to 3 weeks and distribution to all channels will require at least one more week of waiting (with Diesel usually being the fastest).
4. Once you find your book for sale on one of the retailers’ website, alert Amazon. On your Amazon product page (right under the Amazon Best Sellers Rank), click the link ‘tell us about a lower price’ and copy/paste the direct link to the product page on e.g. Diesel or Barnes & Noble. It also helps if you enlist a few friends with Amazon accounts to do the same.Alert Amazon
5. Wait some more and check your Amazon product page regularly, until one magical day, your e-book will be available for free.

This process can take more than a month and requires patience. It’s not a short-term marketing tool the way KDP Select can be, but in the long run, once your book is free, can generate extra sales for other books on your backlist (especially if you write a series and make the first book free). Free is, after all, the new black. Speaking of which, get your free copy of Wetter at Smashwords now (all formats are available). Enjoy!

One Reply to “How to make your book free on Amazon the old-fashioned (aka the hard) way”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.