You may have noticed that some of the books I’ve reviewed here (and my current read-in-progress) are free on the Kindle. Usually the freebie is the first book in a series but this still begs the question, “Hey, don’t these writers want to make any money at this thing?” The short answer is yes they do. Making books free is not motivated by altruistic eccentricities of these crazy, creative types.


Perma-free is actually a clever marketing strategy in which the self-published author makes the book permanently free to attract business to the second/third/fourth book in the series. Some authors have noted that Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited subscription has lessened the impact of perma-free, but most say it’s still worth it.

The logic behind this strategy is that if the reader enjoyed their first experience they’re more willing to dole out their hard earned cash to buy into the next one. This can lead to a long lasting reader-writer relationship and expand the author’s fan base, all by setting the entry fee at $0.00. Not a bad investment.

Some things to consider:

  1. First and foremost: That first installment has got to be a homerun. If the reader’s first experience with the author’s work isn’t a great one, they’ll not just fail to buy the next installment, they may never buy any of the author’s work at all. If that’s the case, the entire strategy can backfire. Make sure book #1 is up to snuff.
  1. Even if you don’t have a series, perma-free could still be a viable option if you have several stand-alone books in the same genre. In this case, it would be a good idea to refer readers to other books they might like on a page following the conclusion of the free book. This is referred to as a “Call to action”.
  1. Many self-publishing resources advise new writers that don’t have many completed works yet to consider going to Amazon’s KDP Select program instead of marketing via perma-free. KDP Select helps to get eyeballs on your work, and if you’re a newbie, that’s an important first step. KDP Select does have an exclusivity period so be sure to read through the terms & conditions carefully.

In the digital age of publishing, free books and $0.99 book sales are commonplace. It’s kind of like Saturday mornings at the grocery store when they’re giving out free samples throughout the departments. Who doesn’t like a free sample? Sure, it’s a marketing tool, but as a reader I like to think of it as having your cake and eating it too.


Sold on the perma-free strategy? Here’s a How-To article: http://www.indiesunlimited.com/2014/02/03/black-magic-making-your-book-perma-free-on-kindle/