Everyone wants something for nothing, and free ebooks are no exception. But are they a dead giveaway?
Many sites that offer lists of free Kindle ebooks are doing so to attract traffic for pay per click advertising on their website. Or they are trying to make Amazon Associate income from paid book sales and luring traffic by listing a few free ebooks.
Amazon makes this easy by offering a whole host of tools for affiliate marketers to list Amazon products, including free Kindle ebooks that are made available by KDP Select self-published authors every day.
But is a free ebook giveaway worthwhile?
Well, not very much at all.
When KDP Select first started, there was one significant benefit for authors. Free downloads counted towards a book’s sales rank and helped in gaining some traction.
However, this is not the case any longer. Giving away thousands of copies of an ebook gains little for an author.
I know some authors believe that offering free ebooks via KDP Select is still a useful promotional tool when launching a new title. But I think that is about as far as the benefits go.
To help promote a book, having a new ebook listed on free ebook sites will at least give a new book some exposure.
Once a book is launched, though, is there any value in continuing to offer the ebook for free for five days in every ninety-day period of KDP Select?
I doubt it.
There are some benefits to free ebooks, though.
There are other ways to leverage free books so an author can get something of value in return, particularly if an author has several titles already published.
One method is to use Amazon’s ‘Price Matching‘ to force an ebook to be permanently available as a free Kindle ebook. I used ‘Price Matching’ on one title for a few years, and the book attracted new reviews and more importantly, ‘Shared Notes & Highlights,’ which are quotes and extracts from the book that are highlighted and shared by Kindle readers and then appear on an Amazon page of the book.
Update: Amazon no longer price matches. Details here.
However, you can still make an ebook free permanently on Smashwords or Draft2Digital to distribute to their retailers.
If a book is the first in a series, giving away free copies is an excellent tactic to hook new readers.
Hopefully, they will enjoy the book and go on to buy more books in the series.
The other marketing use of a permanently free ebook is to promote your other titles. Make sure you include them at the beginning and end of the book, with hyperlinks to the other titles.
If you offer a book for free, make every download a valuable promotional tool for your other books as well as your social media and blog links.
How to make a permanently free ebook.
Amazon will not let you list an ebook for less than $0.99.
But you can offer your ebooks for free on other book retailers.
The easiest way to do this is to set the price of your title to free on Smashwords or Draft2Digital.
After a few days, it will then be free on Apple, B&N, Kobo, and any other retailers you selected.
Free ebooks from your blog.
Another way to profit from free ebooks is to offer them to help you build a mailing list.
If you have a WordPress blog, there are plugins available to manage downloads, so you can offer different titles at any given time.
A landing page is a good idea for your free ebook downloads.
But in return for offering a free ebook, you get the reader’s email address.
Once you have collected, say, 1,000 addresses in your email list, you have a ready-made audience. You can keep informed about new titles, book signings, interviews, or news.
It is a great way to build a valuable marketing resource and get closer to your readership.
These are just two ideas for getting better value from free ebooks. I’m sure there are many more creative ways to use them.
Perhaps after reading this, think about how you can better utilize your free ebooks as a marketing tool.
Don’t be lazy and give away your ebooks on Kindle KDP Select because you can. But then get nothing in return.
That really is a dead giveaway.