Friday, November 01, 2019

affiliate buy links on author websites

What do you think about having an affiliate link to one’s own book on an author’s website? (I’m thinking specifically of Amazon, though I understand there are many other affiliate programs.) 
Would I, as an author, be a fool to leave any money on the table? Or is it bad form? 
Honestly, I’d like to earn (“earn”) money, any money, but I cringe at the thought of adding the (totally appropriate) disclosure. But maybe that’s letting some antiquated notions get in the way of earning…you know, two bucks. I’ve seen the required affiliate disclosure on many blogs, but only on one of out of the many, many author web sites I’ve looked at. (Maybe I’m missing something!) Does it matter what category one writes it—picture books versus romance, for example?

I may have had some opinions about the FTC's new regulations

but honestly now with all these "influencer driven posts" I think it's a good idea to know who's getting paid to shill for what.

You should check the regulations to see if posting what's essentially a "buy here" link to your own book requires a compliance notice.

It's pretty clear you're not paying for promotion, but what I think is obvious can sometimes elude regulation writers. (On the other hand, makers of hot air guns have to say 'do not use as a hair dryer' cause someone did, so what do I know.  Well, I know not to use a hot air gun on my hair!)***

Whether you should have links is a question only you can answer.

The ONLY proviso is you can NOT have only one link to Amazon or BN.

You must have a way for people to buy your book in an indie store.

Speaking of indies:
Several of my authors have made arrangements with the indie near them to be the supplier of autographed copies. The bookstore keeps the inventory; anyone who wants an autographed copy buys it from the store. The store calls author who skedaddles on over, signs and Bob's your uncle.

While my author doesn't make cash directly, it saves on the inevitable, "if I send you books will you sign them and send them back" routine which is a total pain in the asterisk no matter what.

I don't have links to any bookstores in the sidebars of this blog, and I stopped linking to Amazon when I mentioned books in posts, at least most of time. Now I try to link to GoodReads or the publisher's websites which offer many ways to buy the book in question.

This is a personal choice, and NOT reflective of some unspoken industry standard or expectation.

Readers, do you have affiliate links?
Any advice for our OP here?

    A laboratory worker was using a heat gun to heat approximately 0.5 liters of heptane in a Pyrex beaker by hand over an open bench. A splash of heptane came in contact with the elements of the heat gun, igniting the heptane and causing him to toss the beaker away from him. The sleeve of the worker's shirt caught fire. The flaming beaker landed on another work surface, spreading the fire to his computer. The worker immediately used a safety shower to put out the fire on his clothing, then used a fire extinguisher to put out the other fire. The worker received burns to his hand. The computer containing his thesis was destroyed.


Aphra Pell said...

I don't have any useful input on affiliate links, but having used a fair few gallons of organic solvent in my time, the whole idea of mixing heptane and heat guns... [goes away to sit in a corner and whimper]

Mister Furkles said...

The computer containing his thesis was destroyed.

Always good to keep a weekly backup in a different location.

Theresa said...

Well, I guess I have to read up on regulations I didn't even know existed. I had no idea I had to include a compliance notice along with links to my own books.

But at least I knew enough to include links to Indiebound and the publishers' websites.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

First computer? After my Adam, I got a word processor the size of a microwave.
Deadline? A breath away.
Twelve pages frozen on the screen.
Call to help line.
Advice from tech: turn off, turn on.
"I'm on a deadline, TWELVE PAGES WILL BE LOST." I shout into the phone.
"From now on, BACK UP, BACK UP, BACK UP." The tech shouted back.
I did and I do.

Got the piece in on time.


Kathleen Marple Kalb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fearless Reider said...

Immolated thesis! Janet, Halloween was yesterday. You can stop scaring us now.

Michael Seese said...

Was the thesis on Darwinism?

Kate Higgins said...

Michael: The Darwin effect aka “stupid human tricks”
I’ve had mine over time. And I have torn the tags off of mattresses too. Oh and objects in the rearview mirror are REALLY “Closer Than They Appear!”

Beth Carpenter said...

Theresa, I think you only need the notice if you're getting a percentage of the sale that click generates.

smoketree said...

My understanding, as someone who works in publishing, is that authors (and publishers) will make substantially more money from a bookstore sale than an Amazon sale, regardless of whether they use the affiliate link. I personally don't buy books on Amazon unless they're out of print because I know how little the author benefits from the sale.

Craig F said...

When I was in the lab business only the gas chronograph people were allowed to touch the heptane. It is the zero on the octane scale because of its linear alignment. That makes for clean readings in the GC, but it also means heptane explodes rather than burns.

If you wish to use the affiliate button, go ahead. I saw a news piece on influencers doing paid medicine commercials on their media channels. Nobody is going after them and that is practicing medicine without a license.

Brenda said...

Smoke tree, is it the same with BandN? I buy electronically. What seller is the best deal for the author?

KDJames said...

I've never used an affiliate link because there a LOT of rules and I find them confusing. Plus it's a paltry amount (4% for ebooks, I believe?) for a non-bestseller like me and not worth my time to figure it out. I know of some writers who use a link but don't say so on their site. Are they *supposed* to say? I don't know. Maybe the assumption is that if you're linking to your own work, of course you expect to see some gain? Maybe it's only an issue if you're making money promoting someone else? Again, I don't know.

I do know, from reading conversations in a private group, that where and how you use a link can get you in big trouble. To the point of accounts being suspended. So read ALL the rules and be sure you understand them.

Brenda-- there are too many variables to to make a blanket statement about what is most profitable for an author. From what little I know (very little), it can vary based on what kind of deal the publisher has with a distributor, the terms of the author/publisher contract, what type of format, what "tier" the price is set at, whether it's discounted and by whom, how many books have already sold in various formats, on and on and on. EVERY writer I've seen asked this question always tells readers to buy books in whatever format and at whichever place they're comfortable and happy doing so.

KDJames said...

Sorry for the typos. [cringe] I have a cat on my lap who is not as pleased as I am about the 40-degree temperature drop from yesterday's ridiculous high of 85.

Brenda said...

No problem. Thanks KD.

Peter Taylor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Taylor said...

When I receive a royalty statement from one of my current traditional publishers, income from sales on Amazon appears to be tiny - my percentage tied to the profit the publisher receives from the sale. Not that royalty statements are always clear. I don't add website links for people to buy from there.

The publisher of one picture book (a division of Bonnier International) never did offer the title on Amazon - but the print run still sold out (before Bonnier closed the imprint).

I don't understand: how do traditional publishers justify offering their books on Amazon for such a small return compared to other options? Is it the reviews they want, or what? Unfortunately my highly illustrated how-to books have not sold by the truck load on Amazon to compensate for the tiny income per unit, and they would be impossible to self-publish with the same design and print quality.

Gigi said...

Somewhat different situation, but I self-published a series of travel guides a few years ago. As a self-published author in that genre, Amazon takes about 65% of what I make on each book. *Insert scream*

In the early days, I focused on links to buy the books directly from me. Under those big buy now buttons, I put up a note saying something like "Looking for an Amazon link? Amazon takes 65% commission on books like mine, so if it's all the same to you, consider buying books directly from indie authors. That said, if you've got a gift card or otherwise simply must buy from Amazon, here's the link."

Because Amazon takes so much off the top, I have no problem trying to get as much back as I can, so when I do link to them, I use affiliate links.

(This obviously leaves aside the question of whether you want to support Amazon by sending book sales there at all.)

P.S. For other indie publishers who get bigger commissions, the reason for that big number above is that Amazon's system favors cheaper books. They'll give you a higher percentage if you price your book lower. In the case of a heavily researched book like a travel guide (travel guides typically retail at $18 - $30), this means either you look like an extreme budget book and charge half of what your category commands in order to command a higher commission or you charge more appropriately to your category and watch Amazon take most of it.

MA Hudson said...

On my website I have a gallery of the latest middle grade books I've read. I had linked each book to it's amazon page as a courtesy but the comments here are making me think I should change that. What is the best place to link them to?

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