Free Kindle Ebooks – Do They Generate Book Sales?

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Free Kindle Ebooks – Do They Work

Every self-publishing author asks this question.

How does giving away free Kindle ebooks help real sales? In my own case, I think I have asked myself this question at least one thousand times.

Over the years, I must have given away more ebooks than I dare contemplate, either by using Amazon KDP Select, making ebooks free on Smashwords and even by turning one or two ebooks into perma-free for some time.

Of course, I have tried 1,001 other means of book promotion, but after six years of trial and error, mostly error, I have to say that on the basis of return on investment, that giving away free Kindle ebooks is an economical and viable means of book promotion.


Why I hear you ask. Why give away my work for free?


Giving away ebooks is free and effective book promotion

When compared to say an expensive promotion on Bookbub for free or paid ebooks or Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Goodreads Ads or any other form of paid promotion, giving away a few, or a hundred, or even a few thousand ebooks costs nothing.

But the benefits are real. Firstly, on KDP, free ebooks help push your book and author ranking higher, which makes your ebook more discoverable to paying readers.

Okay, not to N0.1, but when spread out over each KDP Select 90 day period, it does help stop your book ranking from sliding.

Free ebooks are the best way to garner reviews.

It’s easy to think that a free ebook is a lost sale, but this is not necessarily true.

To find free Kindle ebooks, a reader does have to hunt just a little. But those who do hunt are very often book bloggers or reviewers, who are looking for free ebooks to write about.

Then there are those readers, who ONLY download free ebooks, such as young readers, so they would probably rarely make a purchase anyway.

But if they add comments or reviews about the free ebooks they read to Goodreads or post an Amazon book review, then the free ebook was a good investment.

If you have a book series, free ebooks again no-cost way to attract new paying readers. This one is a no-brainer.

The other benefit is in post promotion sales. Don’t ask me why, because I have never figured this one out myself, but after (almost) every giveaway I do, my sales jump over the next few days, or even up to a week.

One possible new benefit is that a free ebook may encourage a Kindle Unlimited subscriber to read another one of my ebooks, which would then become a paying read. This may become a very good reason in the future.

After years of trial and error, I have to say that compared to the other main KDP Select promotional tool, Kindle Countdown Deals, I must say that I haven’t found them to be as productive as free ebooks.

Probably because discounting an ebook is simply not as attractive as free. Logical.


So, to answer my original question, yes, free Kindle ebooks do work in attracting sales, and it is a zero cost way of doing so.


More reading: Free Ebooks For Kindle- 59 Million Google Searches


Derek Haines

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Derek Haines

A Cambridge qualified CELTA English teacher and author of 18 books with a life long passion for publishing in all forms. I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business. Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.

11 thoughts on “Free Kindle Ebooks – Do They Generate Book Sales?

  • July 16, 2019 at 9:57 pm

    The underlying truth is that Amazon/Kindle is a vanity press. Most of the money made is off aspiring authors. It’s takes a huge budget and a marketing machine to get books into meaningful venues, such as retail stores. Don’t kid yourself.

  • August 23, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    I paid for a relatively cheap promotion, ran my five free days at Amazon, and gave away almost 900 free books. My sales rank jumped, and I did get a paid boost afterwords, although slight. I don’t think I could have generated this many free downloads without the paid service. The free books haven’t generated any reviews, though. I’m still hopeful! I’ll definitely do something along these lines again. Thanks for the advice, as usual.

  • July 23, 2018 at 11:25 am

    I’ve got 3 free days coming up at the end of the week. Didn’t get me any more sales last time but I didn’t have any reviews then and I’d registered it with a lot fewer promo sites. I’ll be interested to see the difference.

    • April 22, 2019 at 8:29 pm

      I have had 123 downloads from all over the world on my free promotion to my ebook on Amazon, not one person has left me a review, even though i placed a hyperlink and asked for reviews at the end of my ebook to the kindle review site.

  • April 19, 2018 at 1:06 am

    Question: if you ask your launch team to download the Kindle ebook before the hard launch to leave reviews…do they have to have a Kindle to do so…or can they simply download to their computer or phone

  • July 7, 2017 at 9:24 am

    After just making my first book available for free that’s a reassuring view, thank you! After the first couple of days I don’t seem to have had many hits on the book though. Even for free it seems hard to get noticed in the vast market! Would you advise running a paid ad at the same time as a free download campaign, essentially paying people to read your book, in hope of developing sales later down the line?

  • May 26, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Dear Mr Haines,

    Thank you very much for your posts. As a relatively newbie to indie writing I have found your knowledgeable advice to be invaluable.

    • May 26, 2016 at 8:31 am

      Thank you, Penelope. I’m very pleased to hear you find my blog informative,

  • November 11, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    Interesting! How many copies of eBooks have you given away for free?
    Is it more than the number of sales of the same book?

    • November 11, 2015 at 3:58 pm

      I have no idea how many ebooks I have given away over the years, Charles. A lot! And yes, it is far more than the number of sales I have made. But as I said in the article, it is free promotion. I never look at it as a lost sale, but a free way to promote my books, and probably more importantly, to improve my book rankings, which definitely does help in gaining real sales.


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