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Should You Give Away Your Book for Free?


You may have seen some authors give away their book for free. (I’ve certainly done it with several of my books.) And, you may have wondered why in the world would they give away something for free if their goal is to make money selling books. I get it; it seems totally counter-intuitive. But, it’s also been a really great strategy for some authors.


In Episode 59, I walk you through the reasons why you might choose to list a book for free on Amazon. Then, I’ll tell you about my free books on Amazon, including how I made one of them permanently free and how that strategy has worked out for me. If you’ve ever wondered whether this strategy is one you should try to sell more books, definitely listen to this episode.




Here are the four reasons why you might want to give away your book for free:


1. To introduce yourself to a new audience.

Amazon is a search engine, and it’s almost certain that people are searching for books on your topic. And, if your book is free, people are much more likely to download it. That free book can introduce you and your work to new readers who will then be much more likely to buy your other books. This is the most popular reason why fiction authors create free books, especially if they have a book series. They write a short novella introducing their characters to their audience, which they then give away for free. The novella gets readers hooked, so they then want to buy more books in the series.


2. To get more people on your email list.

Amazon can put you in front of a completely different group of people. Unfortunately, there’s not a direct way to collect the email address of every person who gets your book, but what you can do is talk about a freebie (lead magnet) that your readers can download to get more value from you. For my free book, it’s a video series that walks readers through what I teach in my book.


3. To test an idea for a longer book.

If readers are willing to download copies of your free book, it’s a sign that there’s likely enough interest for them to purchase a paid book. (Not everyone who picks up a free book will want to pay money for a book on the same topic, but you can certainly gauge interest in the topic.) There are absolutely other ways to test your book idea, so this is just one option you could consider.


4. To share information you’d like to spread into the world.

If you have a message that you don’t want to turn into a longer book, you can certainly share it with a wider audience by publishing a short eBook on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). This can also be a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader or expert in your niche.



If you enroll your Kindle book in KDP Select, you’ll be able to offer it for free for five days a quarter. (But be careful, KDP Select comes with its own set of rules, and you can’t sell your book anywhere else—even your website—if you enroll.) It’s a little tricky to make your book permanently free on Amazon, but it’s doable. Here’s how I did it:

  1. Format and publish your eBook on Amazon with KDP.
  2. Format and publish your eBook with Smashwords. (I found this to be a little tricky, but the free Smashwords Style Guide helps.)
  3. List your eBook for $0 (free) on Smashwords.
  4. Go to the listing for your book on Amazon and ask them to match the price. (Scroll down and click on “Would you like to tell us about a lower price?”)where to click to ask Amazon to match the price of a book or ebook

It’s a somewhat involved process to make your book permanently free on Amazon, but it can be worth it for some authors. Take the time to weigh the pros and cons of a free book strategy for your book before putting in the time to implement this strategy.


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