KDP Select, Amazon, and the Value of Free

It seems like ever since Amazon launched this KDP ‘Select’ thing, where you can add your books to a ‘lending library’ for Prime members and make your book free – for up to 5 days! – that this is now the only way in which they believe in free.

My novelette The Corpse King has been free at all other outlets since I released it, but Amazon still wants $0.99 for it. Why? I have no idea. No matter how many ‘lower price’ notices they receive, it seems they are no longer price-matching to free.

Look – if I didn’t want my damn book to be given away, then why would I be doing it? Amazon.com is a distribution platform. My short story Dutiful Daughter was downloaded thousands of times after I made it free. That means thousands of people had the opportunity to read that story, simply by virtue of the fact that it was available for free on the largest e-book distribution platform known to man.

Do you know what that’s called?

MARKETING.

It’s freakin’ marketing, people! As an indie author, very few people are going to take a chance on spending money – even the impulse-buy $0.99 – unless they know for certain that they’re going to like the work! Instead of buying ads, because my pocket change is sparse, I want to spend the money that I would otherwise make selling that novelette on showing people that yes, I really can write and tell an engaging story!

There’s a reason I chose The Corpse King as the free one: it’s most representative of what I want the stories of Eisengoth to be like: dark swords & sorcery where the characters understand the bleakness of the world they live in, and still rise above that to make the best and most heroic choice available.

I realize that Amazon is not going to change their ways, but I think more people should understand that free does not mean free. If I choose to write a story and then offer it to the world for the low, low price of $0.00, I am doing it for a reason. This is why, despite the fact that its reach is limited, Smashwords is the superior distribution platform for ebooks. Unlike Amazon, they have an understanding about what it means to be an independent author, with no marketing machine and no massive funding behind you.

The only way to gain traction as an author is word-of-mouth. Someone must like your work well enough to recommend it to their friends. Some people still find their books randomly browsing in a bookstore, but those days are waning, and it’s not an option for the indies.

Here’s the thing: nobody’s going to recommend your work if nobody reads it to begin with. FREE is one way to unbalance that equation, and get people reading your work, even if no one’s ever heard of you.

Sadly, I cannot host downloads directly from this blog. In the future I plan to be hosting my blog on my own website, but as of now this is merely a wordpress.com special. So if you’d like to sample my work, Smashwords is the place to do it.

I hope you enjoy The Corpse King. If you do, check out Elegy at Amazon or Smashwords.

If not, come on back here, tell me why it sucks and what I can do to improve it!

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