With a vast array of retailers, distributors, and even time zones to navigate, mastering the logistics of making your ebook free can be difficult. Here are two methods of marking the price down for a discounted title. If you’re looking for help on making your ebook free, refer to this tutorial instead.
1. Kindle Countdown Deal
- What It Is: Similar to KDP Select free promotions, Amazon’s Kindle Countdown Deals is a program that allows authors to discount books for a limited time. While running a Countdown Deal requires enrolling a book in KDP Select and agreeing to a 90-day exclusivity period with Amazon, it also offers several benefits. Deals last for a maximum of seven days, and can also include up to five incremental price increases.
- How It Works: Books can be enrolled in KDP Select using the “Bookshelf” author portal or during the book editing process on Amazon. Once enrolled, authors can set up a Countdown Deal from the “Manage Benefits” section of the KDP Dashboard. The interface allows you to outline the details of your promotion — including the deal price, the start and end date, and the timing of incremental price increases if you choose to include any. Detailed instructions and FAQs for Countdown Deals are also available on Amazon’s website.
- Important Notes: Countdown Deals start and end by default at 8 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, though this setting can be manually adjusted when setting up the deal. For BookBub promotions, deals should begin no later than 12 a.m. Pacific Time, so authors should make sure to adjust the default. Importantly, books can only be enrolled in either one Countdown Deal or five free promotional days per 90-day window. Amazon’s website also lists multiple other restrictions, especially relating to the timing of a promotion and when it can be edited.
- Primary Benefits: Higher royalties and increased promotional space. Countdown Deals allow authors to maintain Amazon’s regular 70 percent royalty rate during the discount (books priced below $2.99 otherwise earn 35 percent). And a dedicated Countdown Deals customer page displays all books currently being promoted. Additional benefits include the appearance of a “countdown clock” on each title’s product page.
- Drawback: Exclusivity. As is the case with KDP Select free promotions, authors cannot offer their books on any other website for at least 90 days if they wish to promote them using a Countdown Deal.
2. Directly Set the Price
- What It Is: A way to discount a book on multiple retailers. Most online booksellers, including Amazon, allow authors to change a book’s digital list price without surrendering exclusivity. However, this method can be less predictable and comes with other potential drawbacks, including the possibility that a retailer will further discount a book after the list price is set by the author.
- How It Works: The promoted book should first be made available at each retailer where the discount is set to take place, either by using a third-party distributor or by publishing directly to the bookseller. (Writers’ forums such as KBoards offer lists of possible publishing options). Authors should then manually lower the price of their title at each one. While exact processes vary, retailers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the Apple iBookstore offer additional information on their websites.
- Important Notes: Price changes can take hours or even days to take effect (Amazon says to allow up to 12 hours within the US), especially when coordinating through distributors or multiple retailers. Some booksellers will also delay raising a price after a promotion if it is still lower elsewhere — for instance, if you attempt to increase the price on Amazon before Smashwords has reverted the book to full price.
- Primary Benefit: Availability. This option does not require surrendering exclusivity to any retailers, while it still offers a relatively high degree of control over the price and timing of a discount.
- Drawbacks: Lower royalties and reduced ease of use. Discounting a book outside of KDP Select does not allow an author to earn 70 percent royalties on Amazon at prices below $2.99, and coordinating between multiple retailers involves a certain amount of research and planning. Lastly, because authors must change a book’s regular “list price” for the discount to take place, it may not be as obvious to buyers that it is on sale at a reduced price.
Have you run a discounted price promotion? What do you think is the best way to reduce the price of your book? Let us know in the comments below!
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