Black Magic – Making your book perma-free on Kindle

Simon GoodsonGuest Post
by Simon Goodson

There’s something strange going on with free Kindle books. You can use KDP Select to make your book free, but only for 5 days every quarter. Yet some books are free day after day, week after week – what is known as perma-free.

Here, in theory, is how to make your book perma-free on Amazon…

a) Publish your book on kindle.
b) Publish the same e-book through another online retailer with the price set to free.
c) Tell Amazon that you’ve found the book at a lower price. Go to the books Amazon page, then to Product Details (third section down). The last line ends with a link titled “tell us about a lower price.
d) Amazon checks the information you provided, then lowers the book’s price to zero.

Easy isn’t it? Well, not quite that easy. There are a few gotchas…

Problem 1 – The book must not be enrolled in KDP Select

If you’ve enrolled your book in KDP Select you can’t make it perma-free because you are not allowed to publish the eBook anywhere else. You’ll have to turn off automated renewal of KDP Select and wait for the lock-in period to expire before trying for perma-free.

Problem 2 – Amazon only price matches certain sites

Amazon won’t price match against the smaller sites. There isn’t a definitive list anywhere but its safe to say the bigger the site the more likely Amazon is to price match against it. When reporting the free price to Amazon use one of these sites…

  •  iTunes
  •  Nook (Barnes & Noble)
  •  Kobo

Problem 3 – Reports of a free price disappear into a black hole

This is one of the murkiest areas in the process. No one knows what makes Amazon choose to price match. Most times reporting the cheaper price yourself isn’t enough.

How do you improve your chances? Ask friends and family to report the cheaper price to Amazon. It seems that having more people report the free price makes price matching a lot more likely. It’s logical too – Amazon won’t want to lose lots of potential customers to a cheaper competitor.

Problem 4 – Amazon treats each region separately

Reporting a cheaper price on the US Amazon site should, eventually, get your book perma-free in that store. Unfortunately the price won’t change in any of the other Amazon regions. To also make your book perma-free in the UK you have to repeat the process using the UK product page. And so on for each region.

The price match site becomes critical here. It needs to be a direct competitor to the Amazon region. Amazon UK is unlikely to price match if you provide a link to the US Nook store. Providing a link to the UK Nook store will make them sit up and pay attention.

Wherever possible make certain that the link to a free price is to a site that competes with that Amazon region.

Problem 5 – Books may not stay perma-free

This happened to me recently. I’d managed to get my first book, a collection of short stories, perma-free in both the US and UK Amazon stores. Everything was fine for a few weeks then it reverted to its original price in the UK (99p). The US site still had the book for free.

If this happens you get no feedback from Amazon explaining why it is no longer free. You just have to go through the whole process again.

Time to get (and give) a helping hand

So that’s how to make your book perma-free on Amazon. It’s an easy process to follow once you know the details. The main problem is getting lots of people reporting the free price to Amazon. Relying on friends and family is all very well, but why don’t we try something different?

If you are trying to get a book perma-free then post a comment below. Help out everyone else who posts by going to their book’s Amazon page and reporting a cheaper price. Together we can storm the free charts without relying on KDP Select!

Comments should contain the following information:

Book Title
Author’s Name
One sentence description
Kindle product link (just one region)
Site(s) where the book is free

And good luck!


Simon Goodson is the author of the highly rated Wanderer’s Escape science fiction novel, its sequel Wanderer – Echoes of the Past and two books comprising the Dark Soul Silenced fantasy story. Simon fits in writing around a full time job as an IT Consultant and a hectic family life looking after his son and two daughters. He can be found head down, writing on his laptop, lunchtimes and during the commute home. You can learn more about Simon at his website and his Author Central page.


The material provided in the guest post is intended for informational purposes. Indies Unlimited has no position either for or against the views and methods stated by the author of the post. We do not know, or profess to know, Amazon’s position on the matter. Anyone choosing to participate in the exchange of information advocated and described in the article does so on their own volition and initiative.

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52 thoughts on “Black Magic – Making your book perma-free on Kindle”

  1. this is a great idea, might need to be repeated periodically; right now i’ve my one and only free & it’s been that way for ages; other books i gave up on, never able to get anyone else to help report it was free (did report on my own from major other sites); anyway, best wishes, be good to see how well this works

    1. Thanks Felipe. I agree – this article actually came about because I suggested having a regular feature. I’m hoping it will get enough use to make a repeat worthwhile.

      Simon

  2. Three months before releasing 1,001 Lightyears Entertainments I told Amazon about my free novella Orphan’s Gold. They failed to price match. However, if some of you would tell them as well, they just might price match. The new book has been out for less than a week and your assistance could really help. If you’d care to review it, just drop me an email at daveloeff at gmail dot com.

    David Loeff
    The novella Orphan’s Gold is free from other booksellers.
    Kindle product link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007RSSK28
    Other links: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/orphans-gold-david-loeff/1116156922?ean=2940044641662
    https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/orphans-gold/id677453215?mt=11
    http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/orphan-s-gold

  3. And now the reason the article came about – my own book that I want to make permafree. All help gratefully accepted!

    Dark Soul Silenced – Part One
    Simon Goodson

    Not vampire but no longer human – the evil was burnt from his soul before he made his first kill, but what did it leave behind?

    Kindle product link:
    http://amzn.com/B00C2BY28Q

    Sites where it is free:
    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dark-soul-silenced-simon-goodson/1117667012?ean=2940045488068
    http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/dark-soul-silenced-part-one

  4. Thanks, Simon. Excellent information.

    We could also use this approach for books that have lower prices elsewhere. If you compare Stephen King novels, for example, you’ll find the e-book prices considerably cheaper at other major retailers. It irks me when I see a Kindle book priced higher than its hardcover or paperback equivalent.

    1. That’s a really good idea. Seeing eBooks that cost more than print copies really annoys me. eBooks should be a lot cheaper than print books. I hadn’t realised they were cheaper on other sites, but I’ll definitely be checking now.

      1. I reported “On Writing” by Stephen King and watched for months–but the price stayed the same. I’d like to stock my Kindle with my old King favorites; however, not at the current exorbitant prices.

  5. Good info. I’ve been doing this since 2010. I change the perma-free book every few months and because I have a series it has a knock on effect on all my others. Better than Select any day.

      1. I change them about every three months depending on performance. I don’t always put the follow on up, if for example, I’ve had the first up for a while, maybe sometimes I’ll go for the fourth in the series, with the hope that readers will buy books two and three or as now for example I’ve just made the prequel free on D2D so waiting for the change to go live on Apple and Kobo and then I’ll pester Amazon. .

    1. Do you normally just report the free prices yourself or do you have to get other people to help out? How long does it normally take from reporting till they price match?

      1. Simon I get members of my group to help report a price change, but I do it myself each day too. The last one took a couple of weeks for both US and UK to be free. US is always first for some reason. Sometimes Amazon can take a while to free up but often as not it’s between a week or two. It’s always a nice surprise when you check the KDP reports and find it whizzing out!

        1. Just to add here that the one I’ve made perma-free this week “That’ll Be The Day” went FREE on Amazon today both US and UK. I used the Kobo and Apple links to report it if that’s any help, guys. Very quick this time around. Good luck with all yours.

  6. I’ve reported the three in the above comments hoping you’ll return the favour.

    Stages | Episode One
    If Sophie emerges from the shadows, will she lose everyone and everything?
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HJK0SOW

    • Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-au/books/Stages-Episode-One
    • Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/stages-episode-one-katie-paul/1118048832
    • Apple iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/stages-episode-one/id791920197

    Thanks for a great article and the opportunity to spread a little Indie love ♥

  7. Thanks for the great article! I would VERY much appreciate help with this book:

    35 Opportunities to Make Money Working from Home
    Jay Lee
    All about Work from Home opportunities

    http://www.amazon.com/Opportunities-Make-Money-Working-Home-ebook/dp/B00I6KTC1E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391805624&sr=8-1&keywords=35+opportunities#

    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/35-opportunities-to-make-money-working-from-home-jay-lee/1118482078?ean=2940045666497

    Thank you so much!

    Jay :o)

    1. Hi Ivory,

      Reported to Amazon. And added to my to read list. 🙂

      Please let us know if the price gets changed.

      Simon

  8. Just a question: What do you do when you get the email from Amazon telling you they will remove your book’s listing if you do not raise the price of the book on the other site within 72 hours? I’ve gotten these emails a couple of times when I’ve inadvertently forgotten to raise a price on another competitor’s site. I definitely don’t want Amazon to pull a book from their site. Is this just an automatic threat letter they send out? Do they ever follow through?

    Thanks!

    1. Julie, I’ve seen this happen before, and it puzzles me since they have the power to change your pricing. I just lowered the price of the book on Amazon until the other sites’ prices went back up. It was the quickest solution to the problem.

      1. In the case of free books, though, do you still get those emails? And how do you deal with them. That is my question. I’m looking to offer a book for free, but since I’ve gotten the emails in the past, I’m hesitant to do this. However, possibly it’s different if the book is offered for free versus just a lower price? Do you just not get a letter if it’s free?

        Thanks so much for the replies. It’s so confusing when they make it hard for indies to work with them!

        1. You know, I can’t answer that. I just listed a book permafree on Smashwords, but not through their distribution channels. That book is available on Amazon for 99 cents. I think Amazon only cares about the competitors mentioned in this post. I haven’t received anything from Amazon about it….yet.

          1. Thanks for the info! If you (or anyone) does give this a try on the other sites and has this experience, I’d be very interested to find out what Amazon does! If I give it a shot (I might get brave and try) – I will definitely report back for everyone’s benefit.

          2. I’ve got one coming out in the next few weeks that will be permafree on all other sites – I was considering *not* listing it on Amazon because of that – haven’t decided yet. It’s for a very niche market. Someone else must have received an email like that – anybody?

      2. To be clear, the book I’m looking to set to perma-free is not enrolled in KDP, so therefore it’s not eligible for Amazon’s “free” days, so no way for me to adjust it to free on Amazon.

        Also, the letter from Amazon stated I had to raise the price on the other sites to match Amazon’s price (basically, there can’t be a lower price out there) within 72 hours – or they would pull the title. They did, however, in the meantime, change the price of the book to match the lower price. (I believe it even said I needed to contact them when it was raised – but I’m not 100% sure if it said that or if I just did that proactively.) I didn’t wait to find out if they really would follow through on the threat and raised the price of the other book (as I said, it had been a slip on my part and needed to be raised as the sale had ended and I had just missed raising it on that one site.)

        1. Hi,

          I haven’t received any mails like that from Amazon for the book I have free, and I haven’t heard of it happening – but that’s not to say it hasn’t.

          From what I’ve read above I *think* Amazon treat free books differently than those which are not free but are cheaper on another site. I’m pretty certain there’s something in the KDP agreement where you agree not to sell for less on another eBook site.

          At the moment I think you should be fine, as many people are using this approach to get perma-free (we can see that in the top 100 free books listings). If you do receive a letter and you don’t want to risk losing the book on Amazon then I’d increase the price elsewhere and send Amazon screenshots to prove it (as many sites take more than a few days to update if you go via Smashwords for example).

          And as always with Amazon – what works / is allowed today may change completely tomorrow. All we can do is grab the chances while they are there.

          Simon

          1. Thanks Simon! That’s sage advice. I will give it a shot and see how it works. It certainly can’t hurt anything! I’ll report back if I get an email from Amazon regarding this and if they pulled the book or not. *crossing fingers*

            Julie.

  9. Thanks Julie. We seem to have hit the reply limit as I couldn’t reply directly to your comment. Even if you don’t get a letter they were something new to me so I’ve learnt something too. 🙂

    Simon

  10. Thanks for this article! I set up a Facebook group for all us indie authors to help each other out in making books permafree on Amazon. If you’ve got an ebook that you want to set up as a free introduction to new readers, post it over on Make Me Permafree – https://www.facebook.com/groups/622646117789841/

    It’s pretty much the same as what you have going on here. Just another way to share.

    Here’s my book:
    Title: Fear & Sunshine: Prelude
    Author: Donovan Scherer

    For generations, the Darksmith family has constructed, concocted, or otherwise created the minions of the world’s most wicked foes.

    Kindle link: http://www.amazon.com/Fear-Sunshine-Prelude-ebook/dp/B009H67AWO/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1376510518&sr=8-1

    iTunes link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/fear-sunshine/id569381327?mt=11

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