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Normally we talk about how to sell more books, but in this article, we will discuss how to make more money on the books you sell.
Authors want to sell books and earn money to feed their families or pay the mortgage. Selling more books helps accomplish those goals. However, making more money per book sold helps you accomplish those goals more efficiently.
Did you know that affiliate revenue is one of the easiest ways to increase your income?
What is affiliate revenue?
Authors earn regular revenue when they sell books. If you’re traditionally published, your publisher pays you an advance and then royalties after you “sell out” your advance. If you’re indie published, your book printer pays you for the books you sold. For example, if you’re indie published through KDP (formerly Create Space), you’ll get a monthly royalty check (or an automatic deposit) from KDP for the book sales in the previous month.
Affiliate revenue, on the other hand, comes from a retailer such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Apple, who give you a cut of the sale.
Benefits of Affiliate Programs
Percentage of Gross Sales
For authors published through KDP, it can get a little confusing, but only because authors get to double-dip! Amazon pays you the royalty on the book since they are the printer, but since they are also the retailer, they will also pay affiliates a second time on the same sale through affiliate revenue.
Typically affiliate programs such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple pay a 2%-8% commission on the sale depending on the retailer and product type.
Percentage of Entire Cart
As an Amazon affiliate, however, you’ll earn a percentage of the entire cart. That means if someone buys your book through your affiliate link and they also buy a new computer (or any other product on Amazon), you will earn 4%-8% in affiliate revenue on the entire purchase.
This happens more often than you might think, thanks to Amazon’s upselling. When a customer puts your book in their Amazon cart, Amazon sends a notification saying, “If you spend $10 more, you’ll qualify for free shipping.” Many people take the offer and end up buying that pair of boots they’d been eyeing in addition to your book, and you earn a commission on it all.
Another benefit of using an affiliate link is that you can track how many people click the link and buy your book. Tracking links allow you to test the efficiency of different platforms. For example, you can create one tracking link to post on Twitter, and within a few days, you’d be able to see that you sold two books. You’d then create another tracking link to post on your blog. After you send your email subscribers to your blog, you may discover that 200 people clicked the link in your blog post and bought your book.
Measuring your marketing with tracking links will help you make the best use of your time and marketing dollars. Learn more about measuring your marketing in our episode on How to Spend Less Time Marketing Your Book.
Amazon’s Affiliate Program
- Easiest to Sign Up For
- Easiest to Use
- Largest Customer Base
- Cut of the cart brings in extra revenue from other products.
More people buy on Amazon than all the other retailers combined. For most authors, Amazon is their biggest source of revenue, partly due to the revenue earned on the entire cart.
When you become an Amazon affiliate, you can create special links for any product on Amazon, not just your own books. If you write for parents, you might consider writing a blog post featuring your book as well as other books and products parents would love. You can create an affiliate link for each product you feature.
Whenever anyone clicks on any of those links, Amazon keeps track. If that customer adds coffee, or socks, or a unicycle to their Amazon cart within the next few days, you’ll receive a percentage of the entire purchase.
Amazon affiliate links may not be shared in emails to your subscriber list and may only be used on your website after approval.
Learn More about How to Become an Amazon Affiliate.
Barnes & Noble’s Affiliate Program
- Barnes & Noble’s affiliate program is available to residents of every state.
- When people shop at Barnes & Noble, they are already looking to buy a book. With a limited product selection, Barnes & Noble is far less distracting than “the everything store,” as Amazon has been called.
Not Author Friendly
In 2016 Barnes & Noble changed vendors, and all their old affiliate links broke. People had to reapply for affiliate status and then replace all their old links.
Lowest Payout: 2% – 4%
Furthermore, Barnes & Noble offers the lowest commission percentages. However, despite the low percentages, there is still money to be had. If you’re not a Barnes & Noble affiliate, you are leaving money on the table—even though it may not be much.
Although Barnes & Noble isn’t as easy to set up as the Amazon program, you can still get it done in an hour or two. If you’re using MyBookTable, the setup will be faster. Once you do the work upfront, you’re set for long-term income potential.
Learn more about the Barnes & Noble Affiliate Program.
iTunes/iBooks Affiliate Program
Apple is the new kid on the affiliate block, but they’re quickly becoming the second most popular ebook platform for independent authors. You can earn commissions on qualifying Apple services as well as sales of books, audiobooks, and more.
Both iTunes and iBooks use the same affiliate program, but they are two different stores. Audiobooks can be purchased at iTunes and ebooks at iBooks, but the affiliate program works for both stores.
Highest Base Percentage
Your starting commission rate is 7% on iTunes. On Amazon, your commission rate can increase if you drive loads of traffic and sales to Amazon, but with iTunes, all affiliates get the 7% rate. Unless you sell thousands of books on Amazon, you’ll make a higher percentage using iTunes.
Great Interface and Reporting
Apple’s reporting interface is easy to use and lets you view sales data in various ways. They even provide global reporting data that can be used to help optimize your marketing campaigns.
Learn more about the iTunes Affiliate Program.
International Users: Genius Link
Affiliate stores are tied to one country and currency. If Canadian readers click your affiliate link at www.amazon.com, they’ll have to click around and find the Canadian Amazon store at www.amazon.ca in order to purchase your book with Canadian currency. By the time they get there, your affiliate code won’t be attached.
If you have a lot of international readers and want your affiliate links to work in different countries, you’ll want to use GeniusLink.
GeniusLink is a service that automatically localizes your buy links. If a South African user clicks your affiliate link, Geniuslink automatically sends them to the South African storefront. It’s easier for your reader, and your affiliate link will still earn revenue.
GeniusLink “helps authors share books with their readers using one powerful short link that can take fans to the best storefront instantly or provide a choice of places to buy.”
Do you want the easiest way to add affiliate links to your website? Then you need to get MyBookTable. Authors often cover the cost of MyBookTable in the first month of sales using affiliate links. You can get 10% off MyBookTable with the coupon code novelmarketing. Find out more at MyBookTable.com.
Thanks for the tips about affiliate links. There is another wordpress plugin which simplifies affiliate linking and localization http://easyazon.com/go-pro/
You do have to be careful with affiliate programs, it can be tempting to sign up for affiliate programs all over the world, but some programs will only pay out to certain geographic areas. For instance, amazon.cn will only pay out to banks/addresses in that country. Don’t know what you’ll do with a bunch of store credit on amazon.cn, but keep that in mind. LOL
Also, the affiliate programs will report your earnings to the federal government, so make sure you remember to report that income on your taxes!
Get well Jim!