Self-publishing on Amazon is free

Jörg Benne

Is it financially worthwhile to give away your eBook on Amazon? Sounds absurd in itself, but that's what this part of my self-publishing adventure is all about.

Despite very positive reviews from blogs and readers and despite the positive response to the cover - the sales figures for Königsfeuer were not great in May. I sold ten eBooks, 2146 pages were read on Kindle Unlimited, total income 28.90 euros. It would take me three years at that rate to get my editing and cover costs back in - and June even looked tough.

So I decided to try a free promotion. Especially now because these campaigns are only possible with Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing as long as you participate in Kindle Unlimited, and I want to let that expire at the beginning of July in order to offer King's Fire at Tolino as well. But I didn't really feel at home giving the book away. Hundreds of eBooks are offered free of charge on Amazon every day and one wonders why a Kindle user should still pay money for eBooks when he has so much free selection. On the other hand, with five sales in the first two weeks of June, what did I have to lose?

My hope: With a good sales ranking in the free charts, some Kindle Unlimited users might read the book and at least bring me some income from the KU pages I read.

No sooner said than done, from June 18th to 20th there was a king's fire for umme, as we Ruhris say. But I didn't advertise it big, an advertised Facebook post, nothing more. I expected a few hundred downloads and at best a place in the free fantasy top 10. It turned out differently.

Without my reporting it there, and posted a reference to the offer and the downloads went through the roof. 843 on the first day, 424 on the second and 208 on the third, due to the time difference another 15 on the 4th day, because Amazon did not end the offer until the morning. All in all 1489 free downloaded eBooks and place 2 in the free top 100 across all genres.

To be honest, I had mixed feelings about the number. Sure, a lot of attention for the book that didn't cost me anything - except for potential buyers. Perhaps 10% of the 1489 would have bought the book if they had known it? The calculation that a few KU readers would just read it was hardly ever fulfilled: just read 26 KU pages on the three free days brought only one cent. Even though the book still had a high sales rank after the free promotion ended, I remained skeptical.

But now, ten days after the end of the free promotion, you can tell from the sales rank that it really brought something. Not only were around 2800 pages read via Kindle Unlimited, but eleven copies were also bought, more than twice as many as in the first seventeen days of June. It remains to be seen how long the effect will last, but yes, the free promotion has boosted sales.

In addition, there is the vague hope that one or the other review could follow from the 1489 free downloads, although one should not fool oneself. A large part of the downloads go to the account of bargain hunters who download everything that is free, far more than they can ever read. But maybe I'll win a fan or two after all.