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I can see there was a $0.00 free purchase of my book on Leanpub, but it is not available for free! What happened?
I can see there was a $0.00 free purchase of my book on Leanpub, but it is not available for free! What happened?

Keywords: free, $0.00, zero, why, none of my books are free

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Written by Leanpub Support
Updated over a week ago

Sometimes authors see there is an unexpected free purchase of their book.

You may see this free purchase in your royalties summary, or, more typically, an author sees it in a purchase notification email, like this:

(That's a real example of a purchase notification email forwarded to us by a concerned author, so we've blurred out some information!)

In this article, we'll set out the top reasons this can happen:

You've Had a Third-Party Platform Sale Through Our Partner Program (This is a Good Thing!)

Typically if you get an unexpected notification of a free purchase of your book, that means it is a notification of Learnerbly purchase, meaning that you'll get paid your royalties based on the Suggested Price in 2-3 months.

Here's what's happening:

We have a Partner Program that lets authors make money from sales of their Leanpub book on other platforms. We arrange all of this ourselves, and there's nothing you need to do. (One big advantage of this is that there are platforms that big companies sign on to, where their employees can spend their corporate training budgets. You can't self-publish on these special platforms.)

Our first partner is an amazing platform in the UK called Learnerbly. You can learn more about our Partner Program in this article.

From an author's royalties perspective, here's how Partner Program sales works, in brief:

1. Learnerbly sells Leanpub books to their customer base of business customers.

2. Those customers get their books using special free Leanpub coupons, but later, you will actually receive a payment of royalties based on your book's Suggested Price (at the time it's added to the Learnerbly platform).

3. Learnerbly pays us for the sale about a 3-6 weeks later.

4. When we get paid, we create a corresponding paid purchase of your book on our system, at the price that was actually paid (which, again, is the Suggested Price at the time that Learnerbly got their information).

If you go to the Individual Purchases page for your book, you'll see a coupon code was used for the initial purchase.


If you go to the Coupons page for your book, you'll see the Learnerbly coupon is active there. There will be a note on the coupon like this one:

"This coupon was created by Leanpub for Learnerbly sales. The discounted price for the coupon is $0.00, so Learnerbly clients can get the book, but Learnerbly will be paying us for each purchase at the Suggested Price for your book. Royalties from these sales will be paid to you separately from your ordinary royalty payments, after we invoice Learnerbly for payments from them related to these coupon sales. To avoid any confusion, please do not edit or change this coupon! To opt out of Learnerbly sales, please uncheck Allow Partner Program Sales on the Pricing page for your book and email so we can inform them that the coupon will no longer be valid as of the end of the month."


We are very happy with how our partnership with Learnerbly is going. We keep adding more books every quarter, and so far we've sold thousands of dollars of books through Learnerbly.

Note: you can opt out of Partner Program sales on the Pricing page for your book, by unchecking the Allow Partner Program Sales checkbox. However, we strongly recommend not opting out, since you'll presumably just cost yourself a number of sales at your Suggested Price, to customers you may not reach otherwise.

Here's the description of the Partner Program shown with the checkbox:

"If you want to allow Leanpub partners to sell your book at its Suggested Price, leave this checkbox checked. You will earn 80% royalties on the partner sales: Leanpub is eating the increased cost of the Partner Program compared to direct sales on the Leanpub website. The Partner Program sales are done via multiple-use free coupons created by Leanpub, or via single-use coupons created by the Leanpub API. In both cases, readers buy the book on Leanpub (using a free coupon), so they get updates to your book just like any other Leanpub sale. Then the partner remits revenue to Leanpub on a monthly basis, and Leanpub pays the royalties on the next royalty payment period. Royalties will be paid in a similar timeframe to normal Leanpub royalties, but will be paid separately from normal Leanpub royalties at first. You can learn more about our Partner Program on our Partner Program page."

Leanpub Issued a Free Coupon to Resolve a Customer Support Issue

It is rare, but occasionally we will create a free coupon for your book, in order to resolve a customer support issue,

Keeping people happy is really important, and sometimes the best way to make someone happy is to shortcut a lot of administrative back-and-forth and give them a coupon for a free purchase.

For example, if they can prove they bought your book in the past, but they accidentally closed their Leanpub account and no longer have access to the book, we may just give them a free coupon to fix the problem quickly.

If this has happened to one of your books, on the Coupons page for your book, you'll find a coupon with the following note:

"This coupon was created to resolve a Leanpub customer support issue."

If you have any feedback or questions about this article, please email the Leanpub team about it at!

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