Amazon Kills Free Kindle eBook Marketing For Affiliates

April 1, 2013 in Kindle Publishing, Self Publishing

In this industry, the only constant is change! Last year, my business was hit hard with 2 major Google algorithm changes and now Amazon is getting on the bandwagon with changes of their own! As an independent publisher, I gave away books for free in planned promotions. I used this strategy to help increase the visibility of my books in the Amazon marketplace (although it was becoming less effective). To help me achieve large numbers of downloads for my free promotions, I used various sites that specifically promote or advertise free Kindle books. Well, that is now changing!

On February 21st, Amazon made an update to their Amazon Associates structure that directly affects owners of websites that promote free Kindle book giveaways. These website owners were using free books to drive traffic to Amazon in hopes of generating affiliate commissions for other products. Amazon’s new policy now penalizes their affiliates that promote too many free books. Affiliates will actually have their commissions taken away if they promote too many free Kindle books! Here’s an excerpt about the new policy:

Starting March 1, 2013, Associates who we determine are promoting and meet both conditions below for a given month will not be eligible for any advertising fees for that month within the Amazon Associates Program…

1. At least 80% of all Kindle eBooks ordered and downloaded during Sessions attributed to your Special Links are free Kindle eBooks

2. 20,000 or more free Kindle eBooks are ordered and downloaded during Sessions attributed to your Special Links

Sounds pretty harsh and for me, this is probably going to eliminate my primary method of promoting my new Kindle books as I’ll explain later in this article. Rumors around the web now state that perhaps the .99 price range is going to be the new free. And that sounds logical. If my book is normally priced at $3.99, I don’t have a problem promoting a sale for .99 or maybe even $1.99. At least I’ll get a little payout on it!

There’s a good article on Publishing Perspectives that goes in-depth on this change that could affect how Kindle books are promoted in the future. Read the full article here.

Here are a few more articles with opinions/explanations on the Amazon issue:

This development is a bit discouraging especially since I’ve only been publishing Kindle books for 7 months now. As mentioned before, I was using this well-established method of giving away free Kindle books as an initial driver for sales and publicity for my titles. Currently, I am publishing non-fiction books but I may try some fiction in the future. If you’re curious, for non-fiction, I used the following sites to promote my free books:

There are a lot more sites like this than I have listed here. These are just the ones I use every time I run a free promotion. I went to all the sites I listed and all of them are still accepting free book listings. The only one that is making changes to their site (at the time of this writing) is Free Kindle Books and Tips. That website owner is renaming his site to Kindle Books and Tips and is going to go to a paid advertising model for people to promote their books.

At the moment, I’m trying to figure out what my next book will be about but have no idea what I will do to replace my old promotion method. Free books are still allowed on Amazon so that’s still a possibility. What do you think? Have you been using the free promotion method with your own books? What other methods have you used to successfully promote your books? Please share in the comments below!