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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why Now is the Time to Start Promoting Extra Hard on Amazon!

We're coming up to the end of October now, which means two things. One is that NaNoWriMo starts next week, so good luck if you are taking part in that!

The thing I wanted to focus on today, though, is that this time also marks the beginning of the main Christmas shopping season. That means if you're a writer with a book or e-book on Amazon, you should be promoting it extra vigorously in the coming weeks. And, specifically, you should be promoting it as an Amazon Associate (as Amazon calls its affiliates).

There are various reasons why promoting your book as an Amazon Associate is a good idea. The obvious one is that any sales generated via your link will attract commission from Amazon.

Assuming you're earning royalties on sales as well, in effect that means you'll be getting paid twice over for every sale.

But there's another particular reason to promote extra hard via Amazon just now, and that's because you will receive commission from Amazon for ALL purchases made by a customer who visits the store via your link. And at this time of the year, in the run-up to Christmas (and Hanukkah) many people are buying multiple items as gifts. If they do some or all of their gift shopping via your link, you will earn multiple commissions.

Admittedly, Amazon doesn't pay a fortune to Associates, with commission starting at just 5 percent. Even so, if someone spends a lot of money on a visit (and it happens at this time of year) the returns to you as the referrer can be substantial. Darren Rowse (aka Problogger) regularly lists surprising things people have bought from Amazon on visits via his links. Here's one eye-opening list he posted a while ago.

If you're not an Amazon Associate already, you can easily join by scrolling down to the foot of the Amazon homepage, clicking on Associates Program, and following the instructions to sign up. Note that you will need to join each national store's Associates Program separately to promote there.

Once you're in, Amazon have a huge range of banners and widgets you can use on your blog or website. They include, of course, simple image ads such as the one below for my novella The Festival on Lyris Five on Amazon UK...

You can also have all manner of other widgets, including slideshows, word clouds, best deals boxes, and so on. Here's an example of a 'best deals' widget (optimized for electronics)...

You can even have an Amazon search box, such as the one below. This allows your website visitors to search the whole of the Amazon store concerned - and again, if they make any purchases, you will be credited with the commission.

Note that if you are receiving this post by email or RSS, you may need to visit my blog to see the sample ads and widgets.

Of course, it's possible that all you want is a simple text link. Oddly enough, this isn't as straightforward as you might think with Amazon. They do provide code for plain text links, but this includes a lot of (probably superfluous) extra formatting information.

My own approach is therefore to copy the code from the Amazon sales page (ending with the product reference number) and add on my own affiliate code at the end. So the 'barebones' URL for my e-book above would look like this:

I would then incorporate this into my own text link. I'm not sure why Amazon doesn't simply provide this code as an option, but the method above works perfectly well for me, and I still get credited with commission as usual.

Of course, one drawback with this approach is that such links only work with one specific Amazon store. When promoting to a world-wide readership, therefore, I highly recommend using a link-management service such as GeoRiot. This will create a single universal link that detects where a visitor is based and forwards them to the appropriate national Amazon store, optionally with your affiliate code included.

There is no charge for using GeoRiot, by the way – they simply take a certain proportion of clicks as 'payment', but this is done in such a way as to minimize the cost to yourself. I wrote about GeoRiot a while ago in this blog post. Here is an example of a GeoRiot link, for my e-book mentioned above:

Good luck on Amazon, and I hope you sell lots of books, e-books and more expensive items as the festive season approaches!

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