In February 2013, Amazon announced changes to the Amazon affiliate program, via their updated Terms of Service that states: if we determine you are primarily promoting free Kindle eBooks (i.e., eBooks for which the customer purchase price is $0.00), YOU WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE TO EARN ANY ADVERTISING FEES DURING ANY MONTH IN WHICH YOU MEET THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS:
(a) 20,000 or more free Kindle eBooks are ordered and downloaded during Sessions attributed to your Special Links; and
(b) At least 80% of all Kindle eBooks ordered and downloaded during Sessions attributed to your Special Links are free Kindle eBooks.
Naturally, this had many authors who’d gone ALL IN with Amazon KDP Select in a tizzy, wondering if this signaled the end of free e-books on Amazon. Why all the uproar you ask? Well, because in the wake of the KDP Select program, tons of free e-book sites popped up all over the place making money on authors looking to promote to their lists as well as getting paid by Amazon for the affiliate link traffic. So in order to gain clarity, I first read an article on one of my favorite sites by site owner Anthony Wessel, Digital Book Today. Today, 6 weeks post the change, I invited Anthony over to AD.com to answer a few other questions I had regarding the program and the implication for authors.
AD: Hi Anthony, can you please explain the Amazon affiliate program in your own words?
Anthony Wessel (AW): Not going to reinvent the wheel here. No different than other affiliate programs. If the customer follows a link into Amazon (or any other site) and purchases an item(s), the referring website gets a percentage of the sale. No price difference for the customer. This is a method of getting paid to advertise for a website.
AD: So how does your site work with Amazon?
AW: All of our book links go to Amazon with our affiliate key associated with it. No different than any other website.
AD: What percentage of your referral traffic is to Amazon vs. other online retailers?
AD: What is your perception of the KDP Select Program?
AW: For the proper book it allows an author to market to customers globally free of charge using the worlds largest online bookseller. In my opinion the Free Book Genie is out of the bottle and it will be a tough challenge to put it back into to the bottle. Why? Because consumers don’t care about the affiliate policy changes. Free books will still be available but just not on as many book sites. Some book readers will just have to rub the bottle again and have the genie direct them to a new website to find these promotional priced (free) books.
AD: What advice would you give to authors considering entering the KDP Select program?
AW: Do your homework before hand. There are many blogs by authors that will give you and idea of what worked/did not work for them. Remember that just listing your book for free is not a guarantee of downloads especially if it has few or no reviews.
AD: What has been the impact so far of Amazon’s affiliate changes on your site?
AW: The majority of the books listed on Digital Book Today are not free. Very little impact if any. For DBT affiliate $’s is a very small part of our revenue stream. As of today when we list free books we no longer will have our affiliate ID in the link. Of course if a customer follows a paid link into Amazon and ends up getting some free books it will count against us. At some point we might just not include any affiliate ID’s in any of our links. A $2.99 book provides a commission of $0.21. It takes a lot of book sales to make it worthwhile. The “gold” is when people end up buying large ticket non-book products with your affiliate ID.
AD: What changes would you like to see Amazon implement?
AW: I would like to see a book rating scale where you could rate a book with a decimal such as 3.6 or 4.4 stars. In this case both books are usually given 4 stars but are drastically different.
So there you have it from Digital Book Today. Affiliate links is only part of the story for a site like theirs. It is important to investigate how the sites on which you plan to advertise have adjusted their strategy in the wake of this Amazon change.
As always, check back in here on Author Discovery.com, for the latest updates and news on getting book more exposure!