How to Give Away Your Indie Book On Kindle

It was a happy accident that Bob Moore: No Hero is now free on Kindle. For those that have ever tried to upload a book to Kindle, you know that there isn’t an option for listing it for free. Initially, I resisted putting it up on Kindle and Amazon because I didn’t want to charge for it. But after a few emails from listeners and fans, I decided to go ahead and put it up for the cheapest possible price of 99 cents. A buck isn’t much so anyone that might have bought it shouldn’t feel too bad I hope. I’m only seeing about 33 cents so any ill will should really go toward Amazon in my opinion. But I digress. The question is why can’t you put your book up for free and how can you get around it? Read on to find out.Well, I can’t say I have a good answer for that first question. Amazon, in their infinite wisdom, has decided that Indie or Self-Published authors (I know there is a difference but the terms have become interchangeable no matter how much you hate it) can not list their books for free. Large publishers can, however, just not you or me. My guess is that it is some sort of filtering mechanism. They don’t want their store flooded with free books that are really still in draft form. Honestly, I don’t see how this will work as there are plenty of authors charging for books that really aren’t ready for public consumption. But again, I digress.

If Amazon thinks that writers will look at their work and say, “Oh, I don’t mind giving this away, but I can’t ask someone to pay for it,” they are kidding themselves. All you have to do is wait for the next author blow-up over a “bad” (not glowing) review to get insight into the ego and self-delusion of the some of the writers out there. It discouraged me because I felt bad listing a book that was free everywhere else for pay. It didn’t seem fair. And it wasn’t. It seemed that, eventually, Amazon agreed with me.

Check out the Product Information section from Bob Moore: No Hero. Notice the bottom right? “Tell us about a lower price?” It seems that someone used that button (it wasn’t me though it should have been) as I received an email from Amazon telling me:

Dear Publisher,

We wanted to let you know that we have matched a free promotion on another sales channel for the following ASIN(s):

B004NSV3WE

Please allow up to 24 hours for the price change to reflect on the Kindle store.

Now, whoever reported me might have thought they were hurting me but I was like, “Damn, why didn’t I think of that?” I wish I knew who did it so I could thank them (if you are reading this, thanks). So, it seems to me that if you want to list your book for free on Amazon, all you need to do is post it and then immediately report a lower price elsewhere (provided you have it posted elsewhere for free). With research, I discovered that it seems to work best if you use Barnes & Nobles as the source. Frankly, I don’t see the problem with this action as it is Amazon’s stupid policy that is at fault. They provide the workaround, you’re just taking advantage of it.

12 thoughts on “How to Give Away Your Indie Book On Kindle”

  1. Thanks for the tip! Do you have any idea how one might reverse the listing, say if you just wanted to do a short-term promotional thing on Amazon?

  2. Unfortunately, I don’t. In fact, the UK site has since reversed my price back to .99 cents (I’ve since reported it and hope they put it back to zero). My guess is that you could report it as cheaper, and then, when you wanted to switch it back to a cost, email them as the author and say that it is no longer free elsewhere.

  3. I did that at the end of August with my book. I let Amazon know several times that my book was free at B&N and Smashwords.

    Amazon never responded nor did they change the price. It’s still selling for 99 cents.

    This apparently does not always work.

    1. Tamara,

      Sorry to hear that. I’m not sure why it stuck with my book. I’ll try to report your book as well in case that helps. Best of luck.

  4. Okay, I modified my original post – it seems that the key is to report it on one of the major ebook providers (Smashwords, apparently, doesn’t count). The one that seems to work the best for people is Nook. So, if your book is listed for free there, you should be able to report that price and get yours changed.

  5. reply to Madelnie
    The way to get an ebook put on Amazon for free is to enter the Kindle KDP prgram. Once in you can then Join KDP Select and manage your book by selecting FREE promotion, where you have 5 days per month where you can choose to list your book for free and you can choose what days you want within that month for the FREE listings. This is a great way to promote your book but still have the opportunity to charge for it on the other days.

    1. N Zaine, this post was written long before KDP started. The thing to remember is that is you enroll in KDP Select, you can’t sell your book through any other outlet. That’s a deal-breaker for a lot of people (including me).

  6. I’m charging for my book Just to Love but am frustrated by lack of promotional giveaways. I’d like to do a giveaway for National Parks week but am not willing to be exclusively Kindle (using KDP). Looks like I’ll have to do it through Smashwords.

    It’s clear why Amazon wants us to charge for our books. They’re providing a publishing service and they want to be paid. Whether they’re taking too big or too little a cut, it’s understandable they’d want something. However, they might come out ahead by permitting the free books, which drives readers (and book buyers) to their site. What promotes me promotes them.

  7. Thank you so much for this, Tom.

    As a small publisher from ‘Down Under’ we’ve been struggling for a while to help our people even get onto Amazon – I didn’t realise there were different log-in sites, such as kdp.amazon.com and createspace.com depending on whether you wanted to publish an ebook or a POD book. Silly me – I was trying to get our authors on by going to amazon.com!

    Anyway, now that we’re on kdp.amazon.com, and are beginning to upload their Kindle versions, it’s been frustrating for me, too, trying to find out how to list their short stories for free in the Kindle store, where we have them for free elsewhere. I actually went back to Smashwords and our own online store and made them all $0.99, against my better judgement.

    Now I will go back, make them free again, and then get people to click the price-matching thing for us.

    Ah … systems. Gotta love ’em!

    But thank you for sharing this information – impossible to find when you search within kdp.amazon.com!

    1. Jennifer, glad to be of service. I’m also in Aus these days (Perth). Great country. Between this post, the guides, and a few more, you should have all the information you need to help your clients out.

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