Making Your Book PERMAFREE – How and Why You Should Do It



There’s no one right way to market your book, and pricing is definitely one of those hot-button issues among writers. Some insist that they wish to charge a higher price for their work, reasoning that they spend months or even years on their book and don’t want to devalue it by giving it away for too cheap. For others, their goal is to get their book into as many hands as possible, and therefore have no problem charging as low as 99 cents or even giving their book away for free. It’s best to determine exactly what your goals are as a writer, and then go from there. As with everything else in self-publishing or even business in general, don’t be afraid to experiment with different prices and it’s okay to change your mind!

The price of your print book is based on the actual cost of production, so you don’t have as much leeway there. With an ebook, you can change the price as often as you like. As a relatively new author, I am embracing the idea of giving some of my books away for free. Right now, my main goal is visibility. I want to get my name out there and I want to find *my* readers – readers will enjoy my specific kind of writing (mainly romance, some bad words, a fair amount of sex). My writing style isn’t for everyone – nor should it be – but I know there are readers out there who would like my books. I just need to find them.

One of the most popular permafree strategies is to give away the first book in a series for free (Which Book in Your Series Should You Discount). This is my plan for my upcoming paranormal romance trilogy – the Gettysburg Ghost series. However, the first book, SOMEBODY’S DARLING, is not slated to come out until January. My other book sales are sluggish now (that’s an understatement. FLATLINED is more like it.) I’m tired of seeing goose eggs for my “sales” figures, and I just want people to read some of my work right now. My plan is to give away my debut novel, QUEEN HENRY, for free for a while to see if I can get some new readers and hopefully some email list signups.

An added benefit to giving your book away for free is that it can show up under the Also Boughts on Amazon, thus increasing your exposure even more.

To make your book permafree on Kobo and Smashwords, you simply set your price to zero and go along your merry way. For Barnes and Noble and Amazon, it’s not quite so simple. For B & N, I never did figure out how to do it. In fact, it may not even be possible. Amazon is still king when it comes to self-publishing, so you gotta get your book free over there if your plan is going to work. There are two ways to get your book permafree on Amazon:

  • Enroll your book in Kindle SELECT (different than KDP which is Kindle DIRECT publishing. That one just means you’re published on Amazon). SELECT means you can ONLY publish on Amazon and nowhere else. If you’re enrolled in Kindle Select, you can do a free book promotion for a total of 5 days for every 90 days you are enrolled in KDP Select. I did this, and got about 400 free downloads of QUEEN HENRY. Not bad. I hit #9 on the free list category in LGBT fiction, which was exciting!
  • If you are NOT enrolled in Select (I’m not anymore) the only way to get your book free on Amazon is to get them to price match when you’ve got your book free elsewhere. Put your book for free on Kobo and/or Smashwords, then get someone to report it to Amazon by clicking on Tell Us About a Lower Price on your book’s Amazon sales page. Sometimes Amazon will price match right away and sometimes it might take a while. If you need someone to report your book to Amazon for a price match, you can shoot me your Kobo/SW free links and I’ll be happy to do it for you. Also, the friendly folks on KBoards are usually willing to help. I had someone from KBoards and my wonderful mother report my book for me to Amazon. It took my book about three days to get priced to free on Amazon.

Though not for everyone, making your book permafree can be a great strategy to help new authors break into the publishing scene and it can be an excellent way for established writers to launch a new series and get some new readers. I’m amazed at the number of highly successful authors who continue to use this strategy long after they’re making good money.

What about you? Have you tried giving your book away for free? What were the results?

– Linda Fausnet



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