Hey everyone! I’m hard at work on the next 50 Shades recap, but I’m taking a break to answer a question I’ve gotten from a lot of people: where the hell is The Boss now? Why can’t I get it for free anymore? I hope this all makes sense and I hope it helps other people who are trying to navigate self-publishing on Amazon and other retailers.
When I decided to publish The Girlfriend on Amazon and Smashwords, I charged $3.99 USD for it, and I had no intention of enrolling it in “Kindle Select,” a program on Amazon that allows authors to offer free versions of their book, either as a limited promotion or as part of a lending library program. But I wanted The Boss to be available on all the same platforms. I thought it would be simple. I would just upload The Boss to Smashwords and Amazon and set the price as free. No problem. I uploaded it to Smashwords, and within four days it had been downloaded over 1500 times.
Amazon was not so easy. I had heard that if you got your book into the premium catalogue at Smashwords– and The Boss was in the premium catalogue– all third party retailers would offer it for free. Including Amazon. But that’s not the case, as Smashwords won’t ship to Amazon unless you’ve specifically asked them to, after you’ve made over $2,000.00 USD in sales on that book at Amazon. Which is hard to do with a free book.
You can’t list your books as “free” at Amazon, but I’d received a few tips on how to force a book to become free there, through price matching. One of the methods was to get your book into the premium catalogue at Smashwords, and when it was offered for free at other retailers, it would automatically become free at Amazon. Despite enlisting friends to report the book as free to the price matching people at Amazon, the book remained $2.99 USD.
So, I consulted another self-pubber, who explained that if the book hadn’t been offered for free on Amazon before, I had as much of a chance as a sparrow fart in a wind tunnel at getting it listed for free forever. How do I get my book listed for free on Amazon? I had to either traverse the hills of Av’Enlee, slay the two-headed ogre, Frax, steal his enchanted pendant, take it to the wizard in Fa’al, and with his assistance, perform the ritual of the Seven Stars.
Or, I could enroll it in KDP Select.
The rules of the KDP Select program are pretty straightforward. You allow your book to be published exclusively on Amazon for a period of ninety days. During this time, anyone who is an Amazon Prime member can read the book for free. Also during this time, you can schedule a five day free download promotion. After the ninety days are up, you’re free to opt out of the program and offer the book on different platforms for however much you want.
At first, I was like, “Okay, I’ll take down the Smashwords copies, and leave my blog up.” And then I saw in the TOS that you can’t offer the content on your blog. So, for right now, the blog version of The Boss is set to private. It will be come public again when the KDP Select promotion is over. It will also be available again through Smashwords and other retailers, like B&N and iTunes.
I’m not happy that it has to be done this way. I’ve had a lot of people give me other solutions (“just list your book with x retailer and Amazon will match the price!”), but the overwhelming advice I’ve received has been to just buckle down and accept the KDP terms, because it’s the simplest, surest way of achieving results.
So, for eight-five days, The Boss will only be available to Amazon Prime members and people who want to pay $2.99 USD for it. At some point, it will become free on Amazon, and hopefully after the ninety days are up, it will be free again all over– including the blog, which will once again be public.
Thanks for your patience, guys! And thanks for those of you who offered help with this!