I’m a big fan of maximizing revenue streams from existing products. With something as labor intensive and expensive as a novel, for instance, it only makes sense, right? So you can sell many different products with one novel. The e-book, paperback, hardback, audiobook, foreign rights, foreign translations, film rights. You can include it in box sets. You can create a musical out of it. Adapt it into other products, like coloring books, computer games, and themed merchandise. All of these are great, even if varying in their degrees of realism and cost.
But there’s a way to monetize your book without spending another cent or writing another word: affiliate links. Affiliate links come from membership in the various affiliate/associate programs offered by the book sales sites. Amazon has one. Nook and Kobo offer them through Rakuten. Apple’s got one. Google Play says there’s one coming soon. Draft2Digital has a universal link that takes readers to all your aggregated buy options.
Signing up for each one is a bit different. You’ll need to do that well in advance of any planned usage.
And what are they and why would you use them?
An affiliate link tells the seller that you sent them the customer. So if I use an Amazon affiliate link on my website and one of you clicks it, Amazon knows I sent you. Because of that, they’re going to pay me a cut of your purchases. The percentage varies on the number of customers you send each month, but it’s up to 10% for Amazon. And you get paid if the customer buys anything in the next 48 hours, even if they don’t buy the product you linked to! Pretty cool.
So you make additional money each month if you send purchasers to sales sites where you’re an affiliate.
There has to be a catch, right?
Well, there are several.
- You must follow their rules. And the rules are different for each. My strategy is to follow the most restrictive rules, and those are the rules for—you guessed it—Amazon, which also happens to be the likely source of 50-80% of your sales. (So you don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you by breaking their rules). Amazon, for instance, does not allow you to use affiliate links in your ebooks, theirs or anyone else’s.
- The various sites prohibit links from one another in your ebooks. So it’s more than just other sites’ affiliate links Amazon prohibits. They don’t want any links in that take customers from a Kindle book to purchase any other type of ebook. Yeah, you can sometimes trick them with shortened URLs, but shortened URLs don’t work with some affiliate links, so why would you even try?
- Even if you follow the rules, some don’t seem to work. I make a few thousand dollars a year on Amazon affiliate links. Using the same strategy (laid out below) that makes me that money, I have made a whopping ZERO dollars from any other affiliate link (and I use them all). I’m dying to know if any of you make money on Apple, Nook, or Kobo affiliate program links.
Quickly, you can see that in order to maximize affiliate opportunities through the non-Amazon sites, you’d need to do individualized versions of your book for each sales site. Only catch is my experience in #3, above, which has led me to believe that strategy is a waste of time. (Which is not to say I don’t do site-specific versions of my ebooks. I do. But I do it to make it possible for readers to get to a review page in one click, on the site they purchased their ebook from.)
The strategy I’ve employed is to use affiliate links on the book pages of the websites, where readers can choose the sales site they wish to visit, and carry my affiliate tag with them. This is where we earn most of our Amazon affiliate income. This is also where we earn no affiliate income from any of our other links (even though 40% of my income is non-Amazon). You can see my page for novels HERE and SkipJack’s book page HERE.
If you want to make it easy to organize your book page on your website and include your affiliate links, consider a plug in like the ones discussed HERE.
If you’re going to use affiliate links, you need to disclose it prominently to your website visitors. I use this message: This website uses affiliate links and may as a result at times receive commissions for click-through sales.
And finally, you can use affiliate links for any products Amazon (or Kobo, B&N, or Apple) have to offer. Insert affiliate links for any products you mention in your blog, or that you recommend on your website. Maybe you have a favorite standing desk or ergonomic chair. Why not use an affiliate link on a picture of you using it? People that are interested will thank you! I sometimes blog interviews with my characters and chat with them about the movies, books, and television they’re into. You better believe I use affiliate links when I do. You can see one example, HERE.
If you have any wisdom to share on the use of affiliate links, I’m all ears 🙂 and I’m sure the other readers are, too . . .
Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes overly long e-mails, hilarious nonfiction (What Kind of Loser Indie Publishes, and How Can I Be One, Too?), and series mysteries, like What Doesn’t Kill You, which includes the bestselling Saving Grace and the 2015 WINNER of the USA Best Book Award for Cross Genre Fiction, Heaven to Betsy, which you can get free in ebook, anywhere. She teaches writing, publishing, and promotion at the SkipJack Publishing Online School (where you can take How to Sell a Ton of Books, FREE) and writes about it on the SkipJack Publishing blog.
Pamela resides deep in the heart of Nowheresville, Texas and in the frozen north of Snowheresville, Wyoming. She has a passion for great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as long trail rides and long hikes with her hunky husband and pack of rescue dogs, horses, donkeys, and whoever else wants to tag along, traveling in the Bookmobile, and experimenting with her Keurig. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound (if she gets a good running start).