How to Make Your Book Permafree (and Why You Should)

Updated: Jun 6

You have put hours and hours into writing your book. It has taken you a lot of effort, time, and money to make it publish-ready. Why would you ever want to make it Permafree? In this blog, I will explain how to make your book Permafree (and why you should), and give you a case study.


Making your book PermaFree is a good marketing tactic
Girl falling asleep with book

First, a quick background. Besides the co-founder of Cutting-edge-studio.com, I’m also a suspense author. I have traditionally published over 13 novels, have written and published a few dozen short stories in magazines and anthologies, and self-published the translations of those books and stories myself. I even wrote the self-publishing guide “Publish” (more on that later).


The first seven books I self-published using a more traditional approach:

- No pre-order

- Launch the book at 99 cents for 3 or 4 days and email my street or launch team to ask if they can download the book and leave a review within 72 hours.

- Using the 5 free days you get when you enroll in KDP Select, make it free long enough for the people in your team that do want to help you but don’t want to spend 99 cents to download it (usually 3 days).

- Bring the price back to 99 cents and leave it for one week.

- Increase the price by one dollar until you reach your end-price.


*Note. This is a well-known strategy and one I used myself time and time again. But there are more tactics out there. There is no one way. As you will see further down this blog.


General thoughts on how to make your book Permafree (and why you should).


Using this tactic can be a good marketing move. But only if you are writing in a series (in that case you can make your series starter Permafree) or when you have a large backlist. I wouldn’t recommend this for your first book at all.


It can be a great way to:

1. Entice new readers.

2. Increase your exposure.

3. Get more newsletter signups (make sure you have a signup link to a free short story or another giveaway in the front and back of your book).

4. Get more reviews.

5. Drive sales for your other books.


General thoughts on how to make your book Permafree (and why you should).


We got a lot of emails from authors asking how it’s possible to set the book for free. Most authors, when they start out, only use Amazon and when they look at their KDP dashboard they see that the lowest they can set their price is $0.99.


Well, there is a way around that.


The easiest way to set a book for Permafree is to ask Amazon to price match your book. For them to consider this (they can choose not to do this at all, so no guarantees here) is to first upload your book to the websites of other retailers. Make sure your book is not enlisted in KDP select, otherwise you could get into trouble with Amazon. The easiest and fastest way to upload your book to the websites of all the other retailers is by signing up to either Smashwords or Draft2Digital.


- Step 1: Upload your book on Amazon (don’t enlist in KDP select) and set your price at $0.99

- Step 2: Signup to Smashwords or Draft2Digital (I recommend the latter), upload your book, and set it for free. Make sure you don’t check Amazon since your book is already live there.

- Step 3: Once your book is available in the other stores (should be within one week) contact Amazon and ask them to price-match. You can do this by logging into your KDP account, scrolling down, and finding the “contact us” button. If you click on that you will be taken to a new page. Under the Pricing and Royalties category on the left, select Price Matching as your topic, and provide them with the links to the retailers where your book is free in the message.


*Note: You can always make a Permafree book a paid book again by delisting your book on the other retailers (use Smashwords or Draft2Digital for this too) and contact Amazon to ask if they can make your book a paid book again. You can’t do this manually and it can be a pain to have them make it a paid book again, but if you ask nicely, they will help you out.


How I did it and when and why I switched back to a paid book after a while (an author experience).


So with one of my books, Broken Memory, I wanted to experiment with this. I write standalones, so, depending on my end result, I didn’t want one of my books to be free forever, although this could certainly be a tactic that is working for a lot of authors. If you are writing a series it really can be worth it to have the first book in your series free forever.


Instead of using the traditional publishing schedule (see above), I made this book Permafree for over six weeks. The goal was to keep it a free book until I had at least 100 reviews. The main reason I wanted to experiment with this was that I wanted to see if more reviews could help me in the long term if I would get more paid downloads on my other books and more newsletter signups. The big question here is: did it work?


The answer is YES. At the moment of writing this blog Broken Memory has almost 200 reviews (I'm getting almost one review per day at the moment), I did see a big increase in the sales of my paid books and more signups to my newsletter. The main reason for this (I think) is that when the book was free, it was downloaded more than 20.000 times! This means I reached more people than I ever did before, people that didn't even know I existed before they downloaded the free book.


Now I know that some of you will say "20.000 books? That means you didn't earn a single penny from those downloads.". Well, that’s not completely true. A lot of these 20.000 people probably wouldn't have found me if Broken Memory was a paid book. A lot of these people only download free books anyway and now I at least had the chance to persuade them to buy one of my other books if they like the story. Did they? Well, not all of them of course. Again, there is a big group of people who will only download free books no matter what. But I did see my numbers go up with my other books. So by giving one book away for free, I made money on my other books. It's basically free advertisement. Although you can advertise a free book too, but that’s a subject for another blog.


Why did I switch back from a free to a paid book?

Simple, I wanted to see what the book would do compared to my other books now it had so many reviews. And if your free book is high in the rankings, you could use that momentum to drive traffic to the paid book too. The result is that, at the moment of writing, Broken Memory is my bestselling title even when it doesn’t have the highest star average.


Would I use this tactic again?

Yes, I plan to release at least 3 novels and short stories in 2021 and, based on what I'm seeing now, I think I will use the same tactic again.


Now you know how to Make Your Book Permafree (and Why You Should).


For more information on the book publishing process and our self-publishing services, contact us.


Looking for a self-publishing guide?

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