Here at Book Cave, we want our readers to get the best deals, so price is one of the big things we review when deciding whether or not we accept a book for a promotion. If the deal price isn't competitive enough, we may not accept the book.
But how do you discount your ebook on a big vendor like Amazon? There are a few ways to discount your ebook on Amazon, depending on whether or not your book is just published through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) or published through KDP AND enrolled in KDP Select. These terms are not the same thing. If you are in KDP, you can also have your book on other platforms like iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. If you are enrolled in KDP Select, you are exclusive to Amazon and cannot have your book on another platform for at least three months, which is the length of each enrollment session.
If your book is only in KDP and NOT enrolled in KDP Select...
Amazon does not let you lower your price by too much unless you change the percentage of royalties you'll receive. Your choices are 35% or 70%. So you can either lower your royalty percentage for the promotion, or you can try to get Amazon to price match your book.
Discount Your Ebook on Amazon Through Author Dashboard
If you want to discount your ebook on Amazon, you can do so easily on your KDP account—as long as you don't want to go below 99 cents (the most popular sale price). However, if you go below $2.99 you must choose the 35% royalty box above the pricing. With the 35% chosen, you can then discount to as low as 99 cents, but you will earn only 35% of the overall benefit. However, you will not be charged delivery fees like you are with the 70% option. When your sale is finished, you can go back in and change back both your price (to regular price) and your royalty amount (back to 70%). Some authors remember to change the price, but not the royalty share, so make sure to double check!
Normally, an author won’t earn a huge amount of money during a sale, but the sales will earn you more views and recommendations that should result in more regular sales once the book's price returns to normal. If you have sequels, a sale or a permanent discount is a great way to bring attention to the series.
Have Amazon Price Match Your Book
If you want to discount your book to $0.00 (or any other price below 99 cents), you can discount your ebook on a major retailer like Barnes & Noble or iTunes. Some authors recommend setting their royalties to 35% and the price to $0.99 on Amazon to avoid getting an angry email from Amazon before price-matching. You can always go back in and adjust the "regular" price upward after Amazon matches the price (but not the royalty—more about that below).
Once your book is free at another retailer, and your book is selling somewhat steadily, price-matching will normally happen automatically within a few weeks of putting your book free. You can also get friends and family to click the "tell us about a lower price" link just below the book's product details. To get it matched faster, send an email directly to Amazon from your KDP account, telling them about the lower price and asking them to price match.
If you're going with this price-matching method to discount your ebook on Amazon, make sure to change your book's price on the other retailer(s) several weeks before your promotion, and if the price isn't lowered within three days of your promotion, make sure to email Amazon to let them know of the price change, because it usually takes Amazon a couple days to react.
You can also use this price-matching to hold on to that 70% royalty on Amazon when discounting to less than $2.99. But we do not recommend doing that, because it is considered "gaming the system" and Amazon may send you a threatening email that tells you to also discount your book on Amazon (with the 35% royalty) or change your book back to the regular price on the other retailer within five days, or they will remove your book from Amazon. Amazon won't bother you if you're just price matching to make your book free because any percentage of $0.00 is still $0.00.
Additionally, you may want to make sure your book isn't being price-matched already before you set your book to free on other retailers. Meaning if you have Amazon matching a 2.99 price on another retailer, set the Amazon price to 2.99 before you make your book free on the other retailer. Several of our authors have reported receiving a warning email from Amazon when Amazon tries to do a second price match on the same book. So keep it simple.
Important note: Having your prices lower on another platform is against Amazon policies and in violation of the agreement authors make when signing up with KDP, but so far Amazon has not enforced this when they price-match free books. In most cases, they have been quick to match pricing when authors email them, and perhaps they consider this notification fulfillment of the agreement. We're not sure why authors aren't allowed to set their books for free manually, but recently Barnes & Noble changed their policy to allow free books, and perhaps Amazon will follow.
If your book is enrolled in KDP Select...
If your book is enrolled in KDP Select, you'll need to start what's called a "Free Book Promotion" or a "Kindle Countdown Deal" to discount your ebook on Amazon. To do so, first find the book in your Bookshelf on Amazon.
Next to each book, you'll see a "Book Actions" menu. Click "Promote and Advertise."
Free Book Promotion with KDP Select
This will open a page that includes this box. Under "Run a Price Promotion," choose either "Kindle Countdown Deal" or a "Free Book Promotion." In the example below, the "Free Book Promotion" has been selected.
Clicking that brings up this page:
You have up to five days you can choose to make your book free during the three-month Select enrollment period. You can use them all at once, one at a time, or several days at a time. The deals will automatically start just after midnight PT and end exactly five days later , again at midnight (see here). These are simple to plan and create. You can do them the day before with no problem. This is the best option if you have sequels because you will always attract more new readers.
Kindle Countdowns with KDP Select
The Kindle Countdowns can discount your book to as low at 99 cents for up to seven days. The advantage is that when you discount with Countdown, you are paid your regular royalty rate during the Countdown, even if the price is below 2.99. So this means you'll get the 70% of the 99 cents (minus delivery charges). The big drawback is that they're trickier to schedule than free promotions because there are rules associated with them. For instance, you cannot have price changes 30 days before and 14 days after. You also must schedule a Countdown several days in advance, and you cannot divide the days into multiple promotions. You either use all seven at once or lose them. To see a list of the rules, click here. You can opt to have Amazon do several days at one price and then raise to another. However, once a Countdown is running, you cannot make changes.
To schedule a Countdown deal, click on "Kindle Countdown Deal."
For a Countdown you will choose a date and time. When promoting with Book Cave and other sites, the time is the important thing to change. The default is 8:00 AM PT, which is really too late for most promotion sites. Book Cave require all books to be on sale by 6:00 a.m. Pacific Time (PT) on the book's sale date, so make sure to double-check the beginning time. You might as well get the most benefit of your sale and use all the hours, so change the time to 12:00 AM, which means you'll start at midnight the morning of the date you choose, and end your promotion at 12:00 AM, and that means you will end your promotion at midnight on the morning after completing the 7 days. It may look like 8 days, but you're ending that morning (at midnight) so it's only 7. That last 8th day shouldn't be included as a promotion day. BE SURE to adjust the time!
Once you're done, click "Add Promotion." You can go back and edit or cancel your promotion up to 24 hours before it's scheduled to start.
But That's Not All
There's one more thing to do on a Countdown. Unlike with the free promotions that automatically go throughout all of Amazon's stores, a Countdown currently can only be scheduled in the US and in the UK, AND you must do them separately. So repeat the entire process again with the UK option so you can make the best of your promotion. So many authors, even experienced ones, forget to set up the UK option and lose out on possible sales.
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We hope this helps you discount your ebook on Amazon as you set up your next promotion! If you have any questions or comments, let us know in the comments below.