As a self-pubber and now a publisher of other people’s work, I’ve been an affiliate of Amazon for years. Even before I was a self-pubber I was running a website called Practical Martial Arts, which I first put up in 1996 (providing the inspiration for pretty much every other martial art that uses practical in it its name) and on which I had a book review column. Naturally, I wanted to make money from any sales made by people clicking on the books after reading the review so I signed up for Amazon affiliates.
Under this scheme I’m granted a unique ID,practicalmart-21 for example, and whenever I use their link creation tool, this unique ID is placed within the link.
Anyone following that link to Amazon and purchasing Blaise Maximillian will earn me up to 10% commission on top of the ‘royalties’ I receive as part of the actual sale. Furthermore, if they then look at the ‘Customers who bought this item also bought’ list and start to buy from that, I’ll also earn commission on those books too.
Traditionally published authors however, often miss out on this. This is because – on the whole – their publisher does everything for them, including marketing. When a traditionally published author decides to promote their own book, they will usually do the following.
Go to Amazon and log into their personal account. Do a search for their Amazon book. Cut and paste the url into Facebook/whatever social channel and ask people to buy and leave reviews using that link. And this is where a problem arises. Not only do they not get cash for any sales made, there is a chance that they will have reviews removed because the link string can contain details of their Amazon account ID in the string. This means that if they share that link and people click and buy, it could look like they’re getting what Amazon can view as fake reviews, and then see them removed.
Say a self-published author has a Facebook page with 10,000 likes. If they post up that they’ve got a new book out, and 1000 people click on the link, and 100 people then buy that book at £5, if they’re getting £1.50 per book sale, and 5% commission for that sale, that means that for every sale they’re earning 25p (I’m completely oversimplifying things here!). Now, that’s not a lot to most people, but it’s incremental.
100 = £7.50
1000 = £75
10000 = £750
Again, it’s not that much, but if you then start factoring in other sales on other books by other authors, it’s free money for doing nothing more than providing a freely produced link.
Let’s say an self-pubbed author sells 400, 000 copies of a book at and makes £6.99 on the sale (yes, that’s an expensive book to start with but I wanted to use the average price for a book on the market). That’s £2,796,600 in the bank. But if they have an affiliate link earning 5% my crappy maths (took me three goes to get a C in GCSE) makes that to be an extra £139,830. Free money in the bank.