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I tell you, wrestling with Amazon is the aspect of the indie writer’s role that no-one warns you about.  As I mentioned a mere nine days ago, I have created an official guide to the Sam Plank books, which includes the first chapter of each book, to whet the appetite, and a glossary of Regency terms, as well as links to encourage people to sign up to my newsletter and indeed to buy the books.  I want to give this guide away – in Kindle form only – but Amazon is not keen on listing books for free.  This is understandable: they make their money by keeping a little cut of the price of each book they sell, and if it sells for nothing, they get nothing.  That’s not to say they don’t run their own promotions, listing Kindle books for free – indeed, you can always download free books from Amazon – but they like to call the shots, having made (I assume) the decision that the giveaway will increase sales in the future.

But thanks to excellent advice from members of the sainted Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), I knew that there was a way to force Amazon’s hand.  And this is what you have to do:

  • Create an alternative version of the book for uploading to Smashwords – another e-book distributor
  • Create an alternative version of the book for uploading to Draft2Ditigal – another e-book distributor
  • Upload the book to these two platforms, giving the price as zero – they both permit this, whereas KDP (the e-book publisher for Amazon) does not
  • Wait a couple of days for Smashwords and Draft2Digital to publish the book and distribute it to – importantly – Amazon’s main competitors, Kobo and Barnes & Noble
  • Find the book listings on those two competitor websites, showing the price as zero, and save links to those listings
  • Find – deep, deep, deep within the Amazon help system – the option that allows you to send a price match request to Amazon, including the links to the listings on Kobo and Barnes & Noble
  • Receive a standard reply from Amazon: “Thanks for the pricing information. While we retain discretion over our retail prices, I’ve passed your feedback on for consideration.  We’ll need a little time to look into your issue.  We’ll contact you and provide more information soon.  Thank you for your patience.”
  • Check the Amazon listing feverishly every ten minutes or so for four days
  • Cheer mightily when – this morning – the freebie appears!

Of course, Amazon can change its mind at any time and revert to the official price that I was forced to enter when publishing the book with KDP – the lowest they offer is 99p.  And it’s showing as free only on Amazon.co.uk at the moment – the other Amazons have yet to catch up.  But it’s progress and in the indie publishing world that’s to be celebrated, when nothing is ever as simple as you think it should be!

So now, folks, please make it worth all the anguish and send this link on to everyone you know so that they can all download the guide – it’s the gateway drug to the Sam series and we need to get pushing!