How To Get Amazon To Set Your Ebook To Free

Doug Green
Oct 8 · 3 min read
Photo by Perfecto Capucine on Unsplash

If you’re publishing an ebook series, a common piece of advice is to set your introductory ebook to free on Amazon.

The thinking is readers will like the free ebook enough they’ll line up to pay you for the rest of the series.

The Most Often Recommended Advice On How To Do This

The most often recommended advice is to upload your ebook to the other retailers (Apple, Kobo, Draft2Digital etc) and set the price to free on those systems.

The thinking is this will force Amazon’s systems to price-match and they’ll eventually make your ebook free as well.

This Isn’t Guaranteed

Amazon is in the business of making money and (as writers know) every penny counts. They won’t drop your ebook to free unless there’s a compelling reason to do so.

I’ve tried this several times and Amazon never did price match the free versions even after 3 months.

You Have To Write Amazon.

Instead, write “support@kindle.com” and request the first book in your series be set to free. There are two responses you can expect.

  • The primary response is to say no. After all, Amazon is not in the business of giving away ebooks. They are in the business of making money from your ebooks.
  • The alternate, is that they’ll say yes. They may email you a letter indicating they’re not happy with this, or there grudgingly doing it and they have the right to change their minds at any time.

How I Changed The Odds They’d Agree

So to be clear, I wanted a free introductory ebook that would lead to the first book in the series that readers would have to pay for.

In one of my pen names, I have a relatively short ebook of introductory stories in a freebie ebook I give away to subscribers (via Book Funnel).

I uploaded this ebook to Amazon.

To convince Amazon making this short ebook free was worth their while, I removed the link in the book to my newsletter, and replaced it with a sales link to the first ebook in the series. I wouldn’t benefit at all with all the freebies.

The Amazon Response

When I emailed Amazon, I pointed out I had changed the links and rather than me getting a benefit, the link pointed to a sale for Amazon.

I also pointed out my intent was to increase sales with this experiment.

I received an email indicating they could change their mind at any time, but they also readily agreed to this experiment.

The Results.

I’m finding that different countries have different responses to reading a free ebook and then purchasing the first book in the series.

These differences are significant, so while the United States market is roughly 7 freebies to 1 purchased, the Canadian market rises to 12:1 purchased, and the U.K. market rose to 114:1. (Seriously — the U.K. really likes their freebie ebooks!)

I also know when a reader follows a link at the back of the paid ebook to my reader list, they’ve already bought a book.

The Bottom Line

This data has changed some of the publishing decisions I made about the remainder of the series, and I will hopefully post about those in another article.

But now, you know how to get your introductory ebook set to free on Kindle.

What If I Don’t Want To Give Away So Many Free Ebooks Without An Email?

Let’s be honest. The vast majority of those who download free ebooks only want the freebie download. They don’t want to pay money for an ebook when there are thousands available for free.

In other words, freebie seekers are not your target reader. They’re not going to buy your ebooks no matter what you do. You want to attract the book buyers.

So relax. Give away your free introductory ebook as often and as wide as possible. Those who do buy your second book have a chance to become fans — the rest don’t count other than to get your name out into the public realm.

Doug Green

Written by

Former nurseryman, now writer and curious about what’s over the next hill and how to get there in either my Triumph Spitfire or sailboat.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade