How You Can Offer An Easy Free Ebook Download To Readers

Free Ebook Download

Do you want to set up a free ebook download on your WordPress blog?

If you use either a self-hosted WordPress or a site, you can do it. You can make your ebooks available to your readers for free.

It is quite easy to create a pdf format of downloadable books using the WordPress media library. All you need to do is upload your pdf books to your media library. Then create a link to it in a post or on your sidebar.

But how many readers are going to get excited about reading .pdf books in a web browser? Very few, or more likely, none at all.

A better way to offer a free ebook download

Ebook readers who find a source of free books, such as public domain titles on Project Gutenberg or the Internet Archive, want to be able to download and read ebooks on their preferred devices without any fuss or bother.

Both of these sources of free ebooks make it easy by offering different ebook formats.

Readers want to download free books and be able to click and read them immediately.

To accommodate this need, you have to offer your free ebooks in both .epub and .mobi formats.

However, WordPress doesn’t let you upload .epub and .mobi files for Kindle books to your media library.

So what’s the solution to making your ebooks available on your blog?

Luckily, there’s a relatively simple option.


How to set up your WordPress blog to offer free ebooks

Firstly, you will need your .epub and .mobi ebook files.

You can create your files by converting Word to epub and mobi ebook files.

You can also download your files directly from your self-publishing platform.

Here is a quick tutorial on how to download your ebook files from KDP, Draft2Digital, and Smashwords. See point number 10.

Now, let’s get started with how to add ebook downloads in WordPress.

It’s a relatively simple process.

It will take you less than fifteen minutes to set up your free ebook download, and it is quite straightforward.

Here’s how to give away free ebooks on WordPress, and you don’t need a degree in computer science to do it.


Step One: Install a plugin

You need to install a specialized download plugin and install it on your site.

There is no dedicated WordPress ebook download plugin.

But you can use almost any download manager plugin to do the job.

There are a wide variety of plugins available, but my recommendation is to install WordPress Download Manager.

I have used this free plugin for many years, and it works perfectly.

download manager

Once you have installed and activated the plugin, you are ready to set up your first free ebook download.


Step Two: Create your ebook download file

Go to the new Download tab on the left of your WordPress Dashboard.

downloads panel

Select Add New, and you will see the familiar WordPress Editor.

But you will not be publishing a new post from here.

You will only be creating the necessary ebook download details that you will then be able to insert into a blog post.

Complete the details as in the image below.

ebook download editor

1. Type the title, author, and any other identifying details you would like a reader to see.

2. Upload your .epub or .mobi file. Once it is uploaded successfully, you will see it confirmed next to the big red delete button.

3. You can add any other notes you like here, but they won’t be visible.

The only other step is to select an icon for your download. Scroll down below the editor, and you will see a box called Package Setting. Select the Icons tab and then your icon.


Now click Publish. You are almost there, but not quite yet.


Step Three: Insert your shortcode

Look again on the left of your Dashboard for Downloads and this time, click on All Files.

You will see your new ebook download file.


Click on the Short-code field and copy the code.

Now paste the shortcode anywhere you like on your blog. You can paste it into either the Visual or Text editor.

You might also want to write a new call to action text above your download link to encourage people to click your new link.

Perhaps, get my free ebook, or download my ebook for free.

Or you could set up a new online book page on your WordPress blog.

Now, update your post or your page, and that’s it.


Step Four: Repeat for other ebook formats

Repeat the steps above to create a .mobi version as well, so you can offer your free books online to Kindle readers.

Now blog visitors will only have to click the new link once, and the ebook will download automatically.

You can keep track of the number of downloads in your plugin dashboard.


There are a lot more options available with this plugin. You might want to try some of them.

But for the purposes of this post, I have only given the basic instructions needed to create a simple ebook download.

However, you could use the same process for audiobooks.


Why would you want to offer an ebook for free download?

There are many reasons to offer free ebooks.

It could be getting book reviews, finding new readers, promoting backlist titles, or increasing series book sales with a first-in-the-series offer.

These reasons are often why many authors chose to use KDP Select. It offers five days of free Kindle ebooks promotion every three months.

However, you need to grant exclusivity to Amazon to be able to use it.

It is a bit of a wish-and-hope scattergun approach. There are thousands of free ebooks available every single day on Amazon.

Outside of Amazon, there are probably way over a million free ebooks on offer every day on a host of other sites.

But by offering your ebooks on your blog for free, you have a much better chance of finding new readers who are more likely to download your great book and, more importantly, read it.

This is because they visit your blog for a reason.

Maybe from one of your social media posts, a Facebook or Twitter share from friends or a post they found on your site from a Google Search.

By any of these means, you have someone who is a more engaged reader. They are more likely to be interested in your books.

It doesn’t matter what you offer. It could be science fiction, romance, or free computer books.


You are in control

The other advantage of using this technique is that you are in total control, and you can offer your ebooks for as long as you wish.

If you want to stop, simply delete the shortcode link.

Alternatively, you might want to experiment and add your links to a number of your posts to see which ones work best for you.

You could also try offering different books and see which ones are the most popular titles.

The biggest advantage is that you are in total control of your free ebooks online. You are not restricted to five days in ninety or by an exclusivity agreement.


Can you sell your ebooks using this method?

Yes, you can. But in my experience, selling ebooks from my author site has never been a great success.

If you want to try, however, there are a couple of ways.

One option is that you can pay for a premium add-on for WordPress Download Manager.

I have only used features available with the free version in this post. But the premium version has many payment add-on options, including Paypal, of course.

The second option is to use another WordPress plugin called Easy Digital Downloads. The free version offers basic Paypal and Amazon payments.

I have not tried this plugin, so please test it carefully, as I have read both positive and negative reviews about it.


Update to this article

Amazon announces changes to Kindle file formats.

The mobi ebook file format is being phased out and replaced by the more popular epub file.

The change will make it easier to manage your uploaded ebooks on a Kindle or the Kindle app.

If you are offering a free ebook download, it means that you now only need to offer the epub version.

Here are Amazon’s notes regarding the file change.

Note: Beginning in late 2022, you’ll no longer be able to send MOBI (.AZW, .MOBI) files to your Kindle library using Send to Kindle. This change won’t affect any MOBI files already in your Kindle library. You can still read them with Kindle. MOBI is an older file format and won’t support the newest Kindle features for documents.

Note: Beginning in late 2022, you’ll be able to send EPUB (.EPUB) documents to your Kindle library from the Kindle app.


Related reading: How To Convert EPUB To PDF So You Can Print Ebooks

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology. More about Derek

Avatar for Derek Haines

17 thoughts on “How You Can Offer An Easy Free Ebook Download To Readers

  • Avatar for Andy Globe
    April 13, 2022 at 2:31 pm

    Hi, thanks a lot for the guide.

    I was wondering, does it slow down my site or my webhosting server when people download a 30mb pdf file? Would it be diffrent or better if I would link and provide the file on lets say google drive?

    All the best to you and thanks a lot

    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      April 13, 2022 at 2:35 pm

      I don’t think it’s a big problem. But 30MB is a very big book file. Can’t you optimize or compress it to reduce the size?

  • Avatar for Khushi T. Saha
    January 22, 2022 at 12:24 am

    Hi Derek, this is a really good article. My question is – can I be enrolled in KDP select and still offer a free download from my blog? Or do I need to unenroll in KDP select to do this since by offering from my blog, KDP won’t have exclusivity, even if it’s free from me.


    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      January 22, 2022 at 8:42 am

      If you are in KDP Select, you can only offer up to 10% of your book for a free download.

      So yes, if you want to offer the complete book for free, you will need to exit KDP Select.

  • Avatar for Jonny
    June 29, 2020 at 9:52 am

    Hi Derek. Great article. I notice you mention difficulty selling your own titles on your own website, what do you think is the reason for that?
    I realise there must be some difficulty because even the likes of JK Rowling, still sell through Amazon rather than their own website. I appreciate Amazon may offer a better deal than traditional publishers but even so, their slice of the pie must amount to millions in JK’s case. I appreciate it will be better than the ripoff rates from traditional publishers, however Amazon also has many extra charges for the would be author. As an author of medical books which have taken me years to write and contain 30 years of helpful knowledge, I loathe to sell even an ebook for 9.99, but if I want to charge more, Amazon take a 70% cut to make it an unviable option. Even choosing Amazon’s 70% royalty option, if you sell a 1000 books at 9.99 each, for the sake of easy maths say £10,000 pounds worth of ebooks, Amazon take £3000 minimum in fees. Sell 10,000 ebooks and Amazon take £30,000 from you and so on. On all levels this would be significantly more than the cost of running your own website, which leads back around to the question, why is it most authors don’t sell books via their own site, especially those who have the fame and a book title that would easily be found via a quick search on Google. I guess while ever everyone continues using Amazon et al, they will continue charging us exorbitant rates for selling our books.
    Thanks again.

  • Avatar for Tara Pada Brinkley
    January 24, 2019 at 4:31 am

    Thank you! I was looking for this exact information so I could add chapter excerpts and other promo downloads on my author site. You knocked it out of the park!

  • Avatar for Robert Fox
    November 26, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    Nice. So what if you don’t use WordPress?

    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      November 26, 2018 at 4:44 pm

      I don’t know of any other blogging platform that can do this, Robert. A self-hosted WordPress site offers a lot of advantages over other platforms.

  • Avatar for Andre Michael Pietroschek
    November 11, 2018 at 2:18 am

    You were informative & thorough on the wordpress handling. Thanks! Sadly a lot of people make it their parasitary pseudo-business to milk upstart authors for money. Similar on paid aka bribed aka fake reviews making anyone a 5-star before ever reaching bestseller league for real. Signs of the times I would lament. I learned not to pay services before money is earned. but that is rock-bottom wisdom.

  • Avatar for Audrey Driscoll
    July 21, 2018 at 4:48 am

    If you make a book available for free on your WordPress site, does that mean you’re effectively making it perma-free (through price matching) on Amazon?

  • Avatar for Chuck Jackson
    July 20, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    I’m confused Derek if you have the original files prior to converting them or uploading them to eBook format, why would you need to go through this process? Why not use your original files and copy them to your WordPress post? I have my Microsoft Word files, couldn’t I use them? Thanks.

    • Avatar for Derek Haines
      July 20, 2018 at 2:59 pm

      A Word file is not an ebook file. So it can’t be loaded onto a Kindle or for an iPad reading app. Only epub and mobi files work.

      • Avatar for Sef
        September 4, 2019 at 3:08 pm

        The other consideration is security – it’s easy for users downloading your book to copy and paste from a Word file. Not impossible, but harder from official ebook files.

        Great article Deek btw!

        • Avatar for Derek Haines
          September 4, 2019 at 4:52 pm

          Thank you, Sef. Yes, offering a Word file for download, or even an unprotected PDF, would be extremely foolhardy. An ebook file is not perfect, but it is somewhat more secure.

  • Avatar for Robert A. Chalmers
    June 16, 2018 at 8:08 am

    Excellent article. I’ve used all the plugins mentioned, including one that offers payment using Bitcoin and other crypto currencies. Easy and neat.
    Well written tutorial. Thanks.

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