How to run price promotions for your e-Books

In this guide, I will go through how different platforms allow an independent author to run a price promotion for their e-book(s) over a short period of time.


It appears that each company or aggregator offers a different method and a length of time it takes for the price change to filter through to your readers.  With that in mind, the timing of some changes need to be considered in advance plus altered again at the end of the promotion. This means double the work for me, when really I would be better off spending my time writing!

Research during my own recent price promotion for Dark of Winter found the following information:

Direct Publishing Companies


Unless you are in KDP Select (exclusive), a price change has to be manually done at the beginning and end of a promotion, plus it takes around 4 hours for it to filter through.


If you have different prices set for individual countries, make a note the pre-promotion prices before the change is made, so they can be reapplied, rather than using the exchange rate prices.


Google books/play

Google allows an author to schedule a price promotion with a start and end date.  This at first glance appears much easier than some of the other companies in this guide.


google 2

However instead of being able to select which e-book(s) the promotion applies to online, a CSV (comma-separated values) file is required to be upload  – Google do provide a blank CSV template for you to use.

google 3

In the CSV file the following information is required:

  • Book identifier (e.g. ISBN, or Googles own reference number including “GGKEY:”)
  • Title (this can be blank though include the book title here for your own reference)
  • Currency (e.g. GBP, USD)
  • Amount (promotional price without the currency symbol)
  • Countries (e.g. GB, US, World)

csv fileIf there is an error in the file once it’s uploaded, their system provides feedback straight away. Clicking on the error message allows for an error file to be download, which provides details of the actual error which in turn can be used to correct the original file and re-upload.

Kobo Writing Life

Similar to Google, Kobo provides a way to “Schedule a sale” from within the price page for your e-book.


The sale page allows for the start and end dates to be entered for the e-book promotion with as many or as few countries included.

kobo 2

e-Book Publishing Aggregators


Similar to Amazon, a manual price change needs to be carried out at the beginning and end of the promotion and individual prices can be set for each country.


The changes again take a few hours to ripple down to the selected digital book shops.


In the case of Smashwords, there are two methods available and I do not think they should be used in conjunction with each other.


For direct sales through Smashwords, the price change is done by use of a “Coupon”.  A percentage decrease may be used, anything from 1 to 71% or 100%, or alternatively the price could be changed to start at $0.99 up to a $0.01 below the usual price or $0.00 (free). There is only an end date available to enter, which means the promotion cannot be scheduled for a future date.

smashwords coupon

The second method provides a way to alter the price to those the distribution partners (and Smashwords directly).

smashwords price 2

In the same way as Amazon and Draft2Digital the price is altered via a price settings page but in the case of Smashwords takes around 2-5 days to change!  Again this has to be changed at the start and the end of the promotion.


During my recent promotion, I considered Kobo to be the best company and easiest for running a price promotion.  The promotion could be scheduled in advance with a start and end date plus it’s easy to choose the countries it affected.

Google allowed the scheduling of the start and end dates however theirs included the effort of creating and uploading a CSV file which took its time to master.

Smashwords, Amazon (non KDP Select) & Draft2Digital were less promotion friendly as no scheduling could be made and each change took many hours (or days in the case of Smashwords) to go through.  Plus all three needed to be changed twice, once to begin the promotion and again to end it.

I hope this article to running a price promotion has been useful and informative.

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