Kindle Free eBook Promotions and Countdown Deals: Are They Worth Doing?

Updated on January 9, 2018
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Heidi Thorne is a self publishing expert, nonfiction book editor, author of 21+ books and eBooks, and a former trade newspaper editor.


If you enroll your Kindle eBooks in the KDP Select program on Kindle Direct Publishing, you can take advantage of two promotions to help build your eBook’s sales and sales rank: Kindle Free eBook Promotions and Kindle Countdown Deals.

But are they worth doing?

Kindle Free eBook Promotions

These promotions can be launched at no cost to KDP authors, with the exception of forfeiting royalties to offer the Kindle eBook for free. However, the title must be enrolled in KDP Select which requires exclusivity. Exclusivity means that you cannot sell your eBook through your website or on other non-Amazon book selling sites. However, on your website you can link to your Kindle eBook product page on Amazon (I'm sure they'd like you to do that!).

During each 90-day KDP Select enrollment period, you can run one free eBook promotion over 5 days maximum. The 5 days do not need to be consecutive. Technically, you could offer a freebie for 5 days, or you could offer a freebie every Friday for 5 weeks, or any schedule of 5 days that works for your marketing. So you have some flexibility there.

Offering a free copy of your Kindle book could even propel your eBook into a "Top Free" status if enough copies are downloaded. As well, once the free promotion ends, your eBook reverts back to the paid sales rank list.

Even though buyers get the eBook for free, they have technically “purchased” it and their book reviews would be classed as “Verified Purchases” which can carry more weight in buyers’ minds.

The Real Deal

I’ve found that free Kindle eBook promotions can help boost an eBook’s sales rank. I’ve even achieved up to a #2 Top Free status for one of my niche topic eBooks. But that status didn’t last long (barely a day or so) once the promotion was over. Amazon’s sales ranks are updated hourly throughout the day. So any status could have a lifespan of mere hours or less.

I do these Free Book promotions very rarely due to the investment they require and the forfeiting of “real” sales.

Kindle Countdown Deals

These promotions can also be launched at no cost to KDP authors, with the exception of forfeiting some royalties to offer the Kindle eBook at a discounted rate. However, as for Free eBook Promotions, the title must be enrolled in KDP Select which requires exclusivity.

During each 90-day KDP Select enrollment period, you can run one Countdown Deal for a total of 5 days, but those days don’t need to be consecutive and could be offered sporadically through the 90 days.

When setting up a Countdown Deal, you set up the initial discount price which then is raised incrementally to full price at the end of the deal’s period. You select the number of increments, with the number available depending on the regular retail price of the book. For example, a book that’s $2.99 may only allow a couple of price increment steps, whereas one that’s regularly $6.99 may have four.

Countdown Deals work for buyers who are budget conscious or who may be on the fence about purchasing the eBook.

The Real Deal

For my most recent Countdown campaign, I ran posts on social media and my regular weekly email. Because of my previous experiences with the Kindle Free eBook Promotions, I didn’t spend a ton of time creating these posts. And I definitely decided not to spend any hard dollars on promoting it.

During that 5-day promotion period, I realized a handful of sales and royalties, at lower prices than retail, of course.

So Are Kindle Free eBook and Countdown Deals Worth It?

So are these promotions worth doing? Here's what you need to keep in mind.

Promotion for Your Promotion is Required. You’ll need to do some promotion for your free or discounted promotion! Just because you offer your Kindle eBook for free doesn’t mean that people will automatically wander on over to your book’s sales page. I had to promote my offers in my weekly email to subscribers and on social media, increasing my promotion cost in terms of time and effort.

Amazon Does Not Help Promote Your Offer. While your free or discount offer will appear on your Kindle eBook’s product page, Amazon is not going to do any special or additional promotion for your offer. So, as just discussed, you’ll need to promote your special offer yourself.

Offers Can Reduce Total Potential Sales and Royalties. In very niche markets and topics, there may be a limited number of potential buyers for your Kindle book. If you give it away, and a large share of this limited market takes advantage of the deal, you could reduce the total sales and royalties that you could realize. Even if you do a Countdown Deal where you do make actual sales, the total royalties will be reduced since the price paid per eBook is reduced.

Offers Do Little to Boost Book Reviews. I’ve also noticed that offering the Kindle eBook for free or a deeply discounted price does little to boost more book reviews, even if I’ve encouraged it in my promotions. This is no different than the struggle to get regular real reviews for a book.

All in all, an occasional Free Kindle eBook or Kindle Countdown Deal can provide you a reason to promote your eBook on your website, email, or social media. Experiment with both to see if either or both work for your market and topic. Just be realistic with your sales and royalty expectations.

Disclaimer: Both the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparation of this information. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and both parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice and strategies presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional advisor where and when appropriate. Neither the publisher nor author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential or punitive, arising from or relating to your reliance on this information.

© 2018 Heidi Thorne


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  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 11 days ago from Chicago Area

    Linda, glad you found it helpful. If you do venture into the self publishing and advertising for it, let us know how it goes for you. Thanks for your support, as always!

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 12 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

    This is very useful information that I may need one day. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, Heidi. I always appreciate it.

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 13 days ago from Chicago Area

    Bill, it is a lot of work for, well, not a lot. I'm really only using Amazon Marketing Services ads which are set it and forget it. And, I agree, getting your fans the old fashioned way by building your author platform is the best way to go. Thanks for weighing in and have a great day!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 13 days ago from Olympia, WA

    I don't do it, probably won't do it, so there! Just seems like a lot of fuss I don't need in my life. I market the old-fashioned way and, truth be known, I don't really trust Kindle or Amazon, even though I use them for simplification. :) That probably makes no sense but there you go.