Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Business of Writing: How to Create Permafree Titles #ASMSG #MFRWOrg #IARTG

Young woman reading, c2015 khunaspix,
Depositphotos ID 69719181.
On Saturday we had a blizzard. Yes, a blizzard. In Virginia. In April. Two days later the temperature topped the 70-degree mark. 

Ah, the roller coaster that is the weather of the Appalachian Mountains! :)

With the expectation that winter is finally done with us for another, oh, six months or so, I am happy to post this royalty-free, cost-free spring photo of a young woman reading.

Why is she so happy? Well, it could be that for her it's the first nice day of spring too. Or it could be that she's reading a free book!

Making a print book available for free is as simple as donating copies to libraries; with digital editions, it's a bit trickier, given that the two largest e-book distributors on the planet, Amazon and Nook, do not let you specify a $0.00 price for your e-books directly via your vendor account.

But it's possible, and here's how:

  1. Disenroll your e-book from Kindle Unlimited, if you haven't already.
  2. Publish it on Kobo and Smashwords, where you can set a price of $0.00 directly via your vendor account. If Smashwords will let you distribute your free book to Amazon, do please leave a comment to that effect below; I have opted out of Amazon distribution via Smashwords because I have my own vendor account there.
    NOTE: If you have just disenrolled the book from Kindle Unlimited, you will have to wait until the current exclusivity period ends before you publish it on any other retail platforms, or you will incur the wrath of Amazon. You do not want to incur the wrath of Amazon, trust me. :D
  3. If you have a vendor account on iTunes and they will let you set a $0.00 price directly, please leave a comment and let us all know that too. Lacking any Apple hardware, I publish to iBooks/iTunes via
  4. Definitely get yourself a vendor account at Here you can set a $0.00 price for your e-book and distribute it to the aforementioned iTunes PLUS Nook, Kobo (if you'd rather not have a separate vendor account there), Scribd, Inktera/Page Foundry, and some European distributors such as 24 Symbols and Tolino. I get a lot of downloads of my free Spanish and German titles downloaded via Tolino.
  5. Once the $0.00 prices are in effect at all these other e-tailers' sites, visit the Amazon product page for your book and report the lower price via the link popup located below your book's sales rankings. Get your friends to do the same for you; the more reports they receive, the faster they will activate the price-matching.
  6. If for some reason Step 5 fails to achieve the desired result, email Amazon and ask them to price-match the title. Recently author Clare Flynn reported the success of the email tactic in this blog post on the How-to for Authors blog.

I caution you, however, to offer only your very best work free.


Because this title is going to be your ambassador to potential new fans of your work, and you only get that one golden chance to make a good first impression. Make it shine!

The title you choose to offer free does not have to be a full-length novel. My permafree title, The Color of Vengeance, is a novella excerpted from a much longer work, Morning's Journey. I'm sure it would get more downloads if it was a longer work; one day I may set up book 1 in the series, Dawnflight, as permafree too.

Best of luck to you in all your publishing endeavors!


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  1. Thanks, Kim. I've some interesting replies to e-mails informing them of my books being free in other places. I observed that they might match in some places and not others (as they keep opening new stores), so you need to send specific links to your free books in other providers for the areas of each and every one of their stores. Draft2Digital is indeed very easy. There are place like Street Lib (an Italian company) who distribute to many places (including Amazon) and now accept titles free, so it's an option to distribute to Amazon free titles without having to go to all the headache of the matching prices, but they do charge (like Draft2Digital, same percentage) and they ask for an e-Pub (although they have other options...). Perhaps it might be a good option to use them or others for free titles but publish separately for the rest... Thanks for the reminder of the quality. That's very important...:)

    1. Thanks for all the great info, Olga!

      Actually I prefer to use Amazon price-matching if I can swing it (and, yes, you have to get them to do it on each and every business unit; thanks for that reminder too :). The reason is that they will cross out the retail price and give the price-matched price beneath, which lends a subtle message to potential buyers that they are, in fact, getting a deal. Forgot to mention that little bit in my article too! :D


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