As an author, you may wonder about the benefits and drawbacks of giving your book away for free. What could possibly be in it for you to just giveaway your book? This article will answer that question in depth.
At any given time, there are 70,000 books available for free on Amazon, and most of them are self-published or published by small publishers. Only a fraction of them are older classics that have gone off copyright. This means that many, many authors and publishers are giving away their books each day. Let’s look at why they are doing this and if it’s right for you.
Benefits of pricing your book at Free
Giving away your book has five main benefits and two ancillary ones:
sales: If you have a number of books published, then readers who
enjoyed your free book are likely to browse or purchase your other
books. This especially holds true for books in a series or genre
reviews: Not all readers who download your book will read it. But
those who do sometimes go on to review the book. By our calculations,
you can expect to get 2 to 3 reviews per 1000 books downloaded. Those
reviews will likely come in over a month long period after the book
was made free.
Reads: Even though your book is free to download, many readers are
members of Kindle Unlimited and out of habit will click the “Read
now” button instead of the “Buy now” button. If your book is
enrolled in KU, you can expect to see a big upswing in KU page reads
(known formally as KENP —-). Authors with books enrolled in KU get
paid roughly a half of a cent for each page read, or $1 for each 200
page reads. While your book is free on Amazon, you will see an uptick
in page reads. That increase may be 2 to 20 times your normal daily
rate, depending on how many copies you “sell” each day while the
book is free.
4) Amazon followers: Amazon encourages readers to follow authors. On each author page, there’s a follow button. When a reader clicks on that, they are signing up for automated emails and notifications about your upcoming books. These emails are highly effective at driving sales for your books. Occasionally, Amazon allows authors to send a note to all of their followers. When readers buy your book on a mobile device, they are prompted to follow you immediately after taping the “Buy now for Free” button. How will you know how many followers you have? You won’t. Amazon does not share that information with authors.
5) Expanded Fan Base: Many readers are always on the lookout for new authors to read. What better way to attract these curious readers than to make your book readily available to them? By doing this, you increase your readership, which may in turn lead to more fans delighted to buy any of your later work.
6) Back Mater Actions: Readers who finished your book and enjoyed it are likely to take actions your recommend in your back matter. For example if you ask readers to review you book, try the next book in the series, join your mailing list, follow you on Goodreads, etc. (Link to Back Matter Article)
7) Audible Sales: After a reader downloads your book for free, Amazon prompts them with a notice about adding audible narration. So while you might be giving away you Kindle Book, you might also be prompting users to buy the audio book.
Drawbacks of pricing your book at free
There is no damage done to your book or you reputation as an author when you price your book at free, but there are three things to be aware of:
1) Your sales rank while your book is free does not carry over or boost your ranking once the book becomes paid.
2) You do not get any royalties from downloads of free books.
3) If your book has formatting issues, lots of typos, or other problems that reviewers have called out, and you have not fixed these issues, then you can expect more reviews that call out these issues.
What Are the Best Books to Make Free on Kindle
1) First book in a series
3) Genre fiction
4) Books that have a popular audiobook format.
5) First five chapters of a book. Note: This is a dicey strategy. On the one hand, you are giving readers a taste of your work for free. On the other end, you are giving them a not-so-great experience when the book abruptly ends on them and they have to go buy it and find their place in it to finish it. If you choose this route, be up front about it in your product description.
How to Make your Book Free on Kindle
There are two ways to set your book price to free on Kindle. The first is to login to KDP and change your price. When you set your price, you can change it for not only the US and UK, but for all other territories/countries that you want. The second is to change the price of your book on another platform and wait for amazon to price match it. The devil is in the details…read on.
Any KDP author can change their book price to as low as $0.99, but if you want to drop you price to free, you will need to enroll your book in KDP Select. Enrolling books in KDP Select is optional for authors. Here are the details on how to enroll your book in KDP Select. If you enroll an ebook, you may not sell that ebook on any other platform outside of Kindle. In return Amazon gives you a few benefits: 1) you can drop your book price to free for five days each quarter, 2) you can participate in Kindle Countdown Deals, 3) you can enroll your book in Kindle Unlimited.
How to set your book price to free in KDP Console:
- Make sure your book enrolled in KDP Select and available for sale on Amazon
- Go to your Bookshelf.
- Click “Promote and Advertise” next to your KDP enrolled book
- Click KDP Select Info.
- Under “Run a Price Promotion,” select Free Book Promotion
- Click “Create a new Free Book Promotion for this book”
- Set your start and end date.
- Lastly, click on Save.
Note: your book will be limited to 5 days of being priced at free. You can use those five days all in a row, or one by one over time.
Amazon’s KDP pricing policy clearly states that they will match the price of your ebook, when the price of your book is lower on other platforms (Apple, Kobo, Nook, etc.) So, to get Amazon to set your ebook price to free, follow these steps:
- Make sure your book is live on Amazon
- Make sure you book is not be enrolled in KDP Select
- Go to other platforms that carry your book such as Apple, Kobo & Nook and set your book price to free.
- Wait until Amazon’s automated searching system detects the price change and then updates the price of your book to free.
You can leave your book set at Free for as long as you’d like. If you decide to make the book permanently free (PermaFree) make sure you have a sound rationale for doing so. PermaFree is a good strategy for a) the first book in a series, b) Prequels to a book or series, c) supporting material for a book (think book club questions, author Q&A, etc), d) you don’t care about sales you just want lots of people to read your book.
Getting into the top 20 Free Books on Amazon
You really, really want to get your book into Amazon’s Top 100 Free Books. Once your book cracks the top 100, tens of thousands of people are going to discover the book organically on Amazon and many of them will download it. To put it another way, Amazon gives your book huge marketing/merchandising exposure once it hits the top 100. How many do you need to giveaway per day to crack the top 100? The answer to that changes from day to day, but a good rule of thumb is that giving away roughly 3000 books per day will land you in the top 100, Giving away roughly 6,000 per day will make your book crack the top 20.
Promoting your free book
When it comes to driving your book to the top of the free book charts on Amazon, you will likely need to promote it to get it there. You might be thinking…Wait, really, I should pay money so I can giveaway more books. The answer to that is yes, but only if your strategy is solid. That is, if you…
Paid Book Promotions
If you want to introduce your book to new readers, consider investing in a book promotion. With several different plans to choose from, you can get your book the exposure it deserves within mere days. You can find large lists of book promotion sites on the following webpages: PaidAuthor, KindlePreneur, indiesunlimited, and ReadersintheKnow and here.
How does it work?
Book promotion sites, such as JustKindlebooks.com, build up a large following of readers with whom they communicate actively via email and social media. By paying to have your book included in well-circulated newsletters and featured on web pages that see large volumes of web traffic daily, you great increase your odds of sparking the interest of adventurous readers along the way.
1. Before you submit your book, you’ll need to prepare your pricing and timing. Typically, you will want to offer your book at a low price for your promotion. You should schedule the price drop in KDP or Apple Books before creating your promotion.
2. Moreover, your price drop should last 5 days. Why 5 days? Many times, emails get opened late, and social posts get shared several days after they are originally posted. For these reasons, it is best to keep your price as stated in your promotion, good for at least 4 days after the promotion runs. Finally, you should schedule your promotion to start on the first day that your price drops.
3. On the day of your promotion, the book promotion company will include your book on their homepage, in their newsletter, Facebook and/or Instagram pages and other social media channels. These channels include such popular platforms as Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, Mix or Medium.
4. When choosing which book promotion site to use, consider the following criteria:
- Does their newsletter have a decent number of subscribers? How many subscribers is ideal will vary from person to person, but you should pursue those with 40,000 or more.
- Do they have a lot of Facebook followers? Facebook is a great way for people to share content quickly amongst their friends, but this won’t do much if the book promotion company has a Facebook page that is virtually dead. Generally speaking, if the Facebook page has 40,000 followers or more, it is worth a closer look.
- Do books in your genre go over well with their readers? In other words, does your kind of book have a readily captured audience easily accessed across multiple platforms, or will it require more effort to market to the right people? You research book promoters carefully to ensure that you choose one experienced with your genre.
- Will the promoter offer you a rerun or refund if the promotion does not perform well? Make sure you read all the guidelines carefully for any hidden terms, and make sure you understand all these conditions before paying for the book promotion. After a tepid promotion, you want to avoid losing as much money as possible.
Generally speaking, It’s worthwhile to email the site with these questions if you don’t see them answered in their FAQ.
In addition to your paid promotion, you will also want to self-promote your book. Consider some of the following approaches:
- Post about your free book on your website, blog, or social pages. Get your audience excited and talking about it by offering brief excerpts, character profiles, or any other content that will actively engage fans and keep them wanting more content, even as they wait for your latest work.
- Trade guest posts with another author. This is when you each agree to review each other’s books and post the reviews on your blog. Aim to trade with an author who shares your fanbase and writes similarly to you. For instance, if you are a fantasy writer, you would probably fare better if you partnered up with another fantasy writer, rather than a romance novelist.
- Send an email to your fan base. Make the subject eye-catching so that they pause before mass-deleting everything in their inbox. For example, you might write the subject of the email (and even the entire newsletter) from the perspective of one of your characters. Pro Tip: If you are not collecting your fans’ email addresses on your site, you should start now.
- Set up a book readings at your local bookstore or library during the free period.
Here are a few more general promotion tips that you can use anytime:
- Put a link to your book in your email signature. That way, anyone who receives an email from you has instant access to your work.
- Answer questions on Quora and include a link to your book in your bio. Be sure not to “spam-answer” questions. Rather, choose questions that you can answer insightfully and thoroughly, so that you establish yourself as someone knowledgeable with work worth reading.
- Participate in forums on sites like kboards.com and include a link to your book in your bio.
- Pay to advertise your book on Goodreads, Facebook or Amazon Advertising. Typically, these ads will cost you $0.25 to $0.50 per reader who clicks. It’s not a great return, but it’s useful for some authors.
Now that you’ve heard our case for all the benefits of pricing your book at free, we hope that you are ready to make the smartest marketing decisions for your book. If we have missed a critical benefit or drawback, drop us a note at justkindlebooks AT gmail.com, and we will update the article with your feedback.
Good luck with your book promotion!
-The Editors, FreeBookPromotions.com