So you're building up your author footprint online but not monetising?
Updated: Feb 4
In nine months time I'm going to quit the day job and become a full-time writer. (Jealous, huh?) Yup, my dream has arrived, and hopefully I'll become one of the lucky authors that's able to make a living from writing. I have no illusions - it'll take years of hard work and commitment but I have this inner belief that I'll do it.
Now, I've had a reasonable online presence for a number of years now, and have even been ranked in 'the top 20% of social media users' in the world by klear.com. (That figure went up to the top 5% for 'influence in writing').
My books have been downloaded, on average, 50 times per month via passive advertising for the last 5 years or so. Not bad, considering I haven't been doing anything to help sell my books for the last four years. Indeed, my book End of the Road has never been lower than #2 in its category since it was published, often sitting pretty in the #1 position. (No, I don't know how I did it!).
However, the income from these books is negligible, to say the least. There is no way on this earth I could live off the profits of these four books, even with very active promotion. I fully understand that my book list needs to grow substantially, and that I need to get in on serious promotion of my work before I'm gonna see any form of income that might just pay for the websites and apps I need to help manage my book business, let alone the coffee and bacon sandwiches and gin.
So let me get to my point. I need to have an income to live off, principally from my books, one that will slowly grow and grow to allow me to achieve that. But I should also consider other sources of income too. After all, I will be sending a lot of visitors from my website, social media, newsletter etc to Amazon and to Smashwords to buy my books, and surely they should reward me for doing so? And over the next few years, those numbers should hopefully grow substantially, and therefore my reward too?
Most visitors, once they arrive at a book page such as on Amazon, often click around on to other books and/or merchandise, buying other products after I send them there (after buying my books, I hope!).
And Amazon will actually pay me for this service. Amazon and Smashwords both have affiliate programmes, as do many other sites, and it is these we should sign up to from the start. An affiliate programme is simple for authors such as me. When I paste a link to one of my books, instead of getting that link off the internet address at the top of my browser, I get it from Amazon or Smashwords via my affiliate account, and a code (or associate ID) unique to me gets added to it by them. The link behaves in exactly the same way as any link, and sends the prospective buyer off to my chosen book. The difference is now, if they buy my book I not only get my author royalty as usual, but I also get a percentage more (up to 12%) for sending them there in the first place. Amazon is basically rewarding me for doing so. And what's more, if my buyer decides to shop around and buy other books at the same time, I get commission for that too. And this is true for up to 24hrs of them landing at Amazon. With Smashwords, it's 48hrs and up to 80.5%!
I think back over the last five years of how many people I've sent to Amazon and what money I might have missed out on. No more. I've just spent 30 minutes changing my links to affiliate links and will, from now on, do so for every link I make with each new book launch.
The only thing you have to do is add a text to your page (see below) to let people know you make money if they click through and buy stuff. Do this, or you could have your account suspended!
“[Insert your name] is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to [insert applicable site name].”
Be warned, this is not a way to make loads of money quickly, and a website full of Amazon links is gonna piss people off, but if you are in this for the long run, and are serious about growing your online presence and brand, then you need to be in the habit of doing this from the beginning.
And whatever you do, do not put Amazon Affiliate links in emails or they will suspend you.
(Warning: Affiliate links below)
Another affiliate programme useful for authors is the social media management company Crowdfire Inc.
Do you know of any others? Please add them to the comments below, thanks.