How To Make A Book Perma-free on Amazon

This is a post specifically for authors who self-publish on Amazon. Sometimes you might want a title you’ve written to be permanently free on Amazon websites. The most common reason for doing this is when you are using the first volume of a series to act as ‘bait’ to attract readers to the titles that follow.

If you ask Kindle customer support for help, they’ll probably ignore you. At best, they’ll send you a polite stock email telling you they don’t know what you are talking about. That’s because Amazon don’t officially approve of ‘perma-free’, as it’s often called. That’s why you’ve got to be very careful how you go about it. You don’t want Amazon to think you are ‘playing the system’, even though you probably are.

Amazon don’t seem to mind that perma-free helps them sell loads more books, but giving away stuff is something they say they can’t officially sanction. Which is a little odd, because they have a policy of ‘Price Matching’, which is what makes perma-free possible in the first place.

amazon_lower_priceBelow the Product Details of every Kindle book on the Amazon website is a link that says, “tell us about a lower price.” That’s what we’re eventually going to use to get Amazon to make our Kindle title available for anyone to download for free. But first, we have to make sure it is genuinely available somewhere else for the tantalisingly low price of zero dollars.

I find the process works more smoothly if your book is available for nothing on as many competing sites as possible. At the very least, iTunes, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. I use an outfit called Draft2Digital for all my non-Amazon ebook publishing. It simplifies the process enormously and they take a small commission from your sales. Something like 10%, I think.

Once you’ve joined up and published your title for free on as many sites that compete with Amazon as possible, you should allow a few days for your book’s details to bubble to the top of the various websites. Not everything is instant in this digital age, and I find it’s best not to rush things. I also think it’s a great idea if a Google search reveals free versions of your chosen book.

The next step is to inform Amazon

It’s better if you don’t inform Amazon personally. If you have an email list of people who buy your books, you can take the next step straight away. Don’t send out a general email asking everyone on your list to report your lower price, otherwise Amazon will be inundated and will almost certainly smell a rat. I usually email 5-6 people who have contacted me in the past and ask them if they wouldn’t mind helping me out. Make sure you cover the USA as this is the biggest seller.

You’ve got to make it crystal clear what it is you want them to do. I usually write a paragraph like this:

I would really like my latest book, How To Make Grow Spaghetti Plants Indoors, to be available for free on the Amazon website. For this to happen, I need someone to go to the Amazon.com website and report a lower price. You can do this by clicking on the link below the product details that says “tell us about a lower price’. Here is a link to that page: amazon.com/how-to-grow-etc/B100GH860

When you click on the Amazon link, you’ll be asked, Where did you see a lower price? Please click the tab that says ‘Website’ and enter this URL, which is where the book is available for free on the Barnes & Noble website.

Most people will be glad to help you. I usually send out a mixture of links, not just Barnes & Noble, but iTunes and Kobo. This helps make it look more natural to Amazon customer services. Don’t be surprised if someone says they’ll do it and nothing happens. This might be them ‘forgetting’ to do it, or it may be Amazon either ignoring them, or being slow.

Keep on asking a couple of people a week until Amazon finally relents and your title becomes perma-free on Amazon.com. Check the big Amazon sites every morning to see if it’s happened yet. I usually find it becomes free on one site, then slowly trickles down to the rest.

If you don’t have an email list, you’ll probably belong to a writers forum. Ask people on there to help you out. If you’re not, join one. Only report it yourself as a last resort.

A final word of advice: when you are dealing with Amazon Kindle, always be ultra polite and mindful of their rules. There may be times when you want to fire off abusive emails to some ‘idiot’ in customer services, but don’t do it. That ‘idiot’ has the power to stop your publishing career dead in its tracks if he suspects you of malpractice.

As a self-publishing author, Amazon Kindle is the hand that feeds you. As every sensible dog knows, you should never bite the hand that feeds you.

Speak Your Mind

*