Self-publishing

Review: Planner Publishing Profits

Review: Planner Publishing Profits

Planner Publishing Profits is the latest writing guide to be launched by the prolific Amy Harrop.

Amy is a successful Kindle author, and the publisher of many guides and software products for authors. She was kind enough to allow me a review copy, so here’s what I found…

As the name indicates, Planner Publishing Profits is a guide to making money by publishing planners (primarily printed, though downloadables are also discussed). The main guide is a 117-page PDF.

As you would expect with any of Amy’s publications, this is well written and attractively presented. It is illustrated with pictures, screen captures (e.g. of Amazon sales pages) and examples.

The manual talks about the huge (and growing) market for planners, and reveals how self-publishers can capitalize on this. The content is organized into eleven chapters, as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Why Print Planners?
  3. Opportunities for Publishers
  4. Formats for Planners
  5. Niche and Audience Selection
  6. Planner Elements
  7. Designing Your Planner
  8. Publishing Your Planner
  9. Selling Your Planner
  10. Getting Sales
  11. Conclusion

Among other things, Planner Publishing Profits covers wedding planners, garden planners, diet and fitness planners, school-year planners, student planners, baby planners, Christmas planners, business planners, prayer and bible study planners, and many more. It also discusses related products such as bullet journals, which (I am told) are extremely popular right now.

An example planner (taken from the manual) is shown below. Clicking on the picture should take you to the Amazon sales page for this product at your own national Amazon store.

Bile Study Guide and Planner

Creating this type of product has a number of attractions for entrepreneurial writers and publishers. For one thing, much of the content is supplied by the user him- or herself – you just have to provide an attractive, well-designed backdrop for the user.

The product appeals to a broad (though predominantly female) audience which is constantly renewing itself, as by its nature you can only use a planner once.

And with self-publishing/print-on-demand services such as CreateSpace, you can design and upload your planner free of charge and then receive a fee from Amazon every time a sale is made.

Obviously if you haven’t done anything like this before there will be a learning curve, but Amy sets out a range of free and low-cost resources you can use to design and publish your work. Once you have completed your first one, you should be able to adapt it to create new planners on different topics quickly and easily.

As Amy points out, although you can sell these products as stand-alones, they can also make great add-ons or bonuses for other products (the bible study planner referred to above is an example of this).

The manual is particularly strong on methods for marketing and selling planners, including Amazon, social media, blogging, and so on. Apparently planners also sell very well using video. Who knew?

As well as the main guide, there are various bonuses. These include a 12-page companion guide which provides a concise, step-by-step checklist for publishing your first planner, from research to design, publishing to marketing. There are three training videos featuring Amy herself and two planner templates in Microsoft Word format. Other bonuses include a guide to using the online design platform Canva and another guide to marketing using Instagram.

In summary, Planner Publishing Profits is a comprehensive guide to making money as a self-publisher in the popular ‘planner’ niche. As is Amy’s usual practice it is currently on a launch special offer, after which the price will rise to $27. If you are an entrepreneurial writer/publisher looking to add another income stream to your portfolio, it is definitely worth checking out.

If you have any comments or questions about Planner Publishing Profits, as always, please do post them below.

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Why Now is the Season to Start Promoting More Vigorously on Amazon

Why Now is the Season to Start Promoting More Vigorously on Amazon

The festive season is fast approaching, so I thought it was time to publish my usual reminder about promoting your Amazon Associate (affiliate) links extra vigorously.

If you’re reading this blog there’s a good chance you have one or more books/ebooks on Amazon. There are various reasons why promoting them as an Amazon Associate is a good idea. The obvious one is that any sales generated through 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 at this time of year, 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 in the coming weeks, in the run-up to Christmas and Hanukkah, many people will be 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. Commission starts at just 5 percent, rising to the dizzy heights of 15 percent for some products. By way of comparison, affiliate commissions paid on downloadable products are often over 40 percent, and in some cases up to 100. See my recent post about the WCCL/Kaleidoscope Global affiliate program, for example.

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 products 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 latest Kindle e-book on Amazon.com…

You can also have all manner of other widgets, including slideshows, word clouds, best deals boxes, and so on. Here’s an example of an Amazon UK deals widget that is automatically updated.

Of course, it’s possible that all you want is a simple text link. You can get this via the grey Amazon Associates Site Stripe that appears at the top of the screen when you are logged in. The Site Stripe will give you affiliate links for whatever Amazon page you happen to be on. As an example, here is my text link for the All-New Fire-TV with Alexa Voice Remote on Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2hzPz5N

You can also access image and text-and-image links via the Site Stripe, and social media (Facebook and Twitter) posting links as well.

And finally, there is a new, free Amazon plugin that self-hosted WordPress blog owners can use to quickly insert formatted links and images into their posts. More information can be found by clicking here.

One slight drawback of the methods above is that if your visitor is located somewhere with a different national Amazon store, they won’t automatically be redirected. If you are targeting a multinational audience, you might therefore like to consider using the Geniuslink or Booklinker services.

Both of these are run by the GeoRiot organization. They create a single link that detects where visitors are and automatically forwards them to their own national store, with your affiliate link if you have entered one for the store concerned.

I wrote about Geniuslink in this recent post, and Booklinker in this one. Geniuslink has more bells and whistles than Booklinker. There is a monthly fee starting at $9, although you can try it free of charge for 14 days. Booklinker is a more stripped-down service, but it is free however many clicks your links attract.

Here is a sample link created with Booklinker for my Kindle e-book on plotting: http://mybook.to/ThreeGreat. Click on this and it should take you straight to the appropriate page of your own national Amazon store. Try it and see 🙂

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

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KDP jumpstart

KDP JumpStart: A New Resource for Amazon Ebook and Paperback Authors

Recently I got an email about KDP Jumpstart. This is a new training resource for Amazon authors using the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) platform. I thought I would take a look to see what it was all about.

KDP Jumpstart is a section of the KDP Help pages. At the start it says, “New to Kindle Direct Publishing? Want a simple, step-by-step guide to publishing on Amazon? We’ve created KDP Jumpstart for authors like you. KDP Jumpstart is a streamlined, sequential approach to the steps required to go from finished manuscript to published book.”

The KDP Jumpstart section is organized in four main categories, as follows:

  1. Getting Started
  2. Book Details
  3. Manuscript and Cover
  4. Rights and Pricing

Each of these categories contains between two and five pages. They provide a concise, step-by-step guide to the topic concerned, with short instructional videos as well as text (see example screen capture below). There are also companion PDFs you can download, which sum up the content in the form of a checklist.

KDP Jumpstart example

An important point is that KDP Jumpstart is based around using Amazon’s new (and free) Kindle Create tool. You can download this via KDP Jumpstart. Both PC and Mac versions are available. I downloaded the PC version and found it easy to install and intuitive to use.

I hadn’t actually seen Kindle Create before, so assume it is fairly new. Essentially, it aims to provide an easy-to-use software tool to format your Kindle e-books and make them look good before uploading them to Amazon. Among other things, it lets you apply enhanced typesetting to make text easier to read, and you can also select from a range of design themes to make your book look more professional.

There is also a Microsoft Word add-on you can download to help format paperback books for KDP. As I wrote in this post a few weeks ago, KDP paperback publishing looks set to replace Amazon’s old CreateSpace print-on-demand publishing service in the fairly near future.

I will look at Kindle Create in more detail in a future post, but my first impression is that it is well worth trying, as it should allow you to create Kindle e-books (and paperbacks) with better, more attractive formatting. A potential drawback may be that you will have to work within the constraints of the software – so if you have very specific formatting needs, it may not be for you.

If you have any comments or questions about KDP Jumpstart (or KDP Create), as always, please do post them below.

 

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One Page Publishing Profits Review

Review: One Page Publishing Profits

One Page Publishing Profits is a new self-publishing guide from my colleague Amy Harrop.

Amy is a successful author herself and the publisher of many guides and software products for authors. She was kind enough to allow me reviewer access, so here’s what I found…

As the name suggests, One Page Publishing Profits is a guide to researching, writing and publishing one-page products that can be sold for profit or used for various other purposes.

The main guide is a 66-page PDF. As with all of Amy’s publications, this is well written and attractively presented. It is illustrated with screen captures where appropriate.

Amy starts by explaining what ‘one pagers’ are. The main types she covers are cheatsheets (like the example below, taken from the manual), tip sheets and checklists. She then goes on to explain the benefits of producing them.

Cheat sheet example

You can attempt to sell one-page products directly, but Amy emphasizes that they can serve many other purposes as well. A popular one is to provide an incentive for people to sign up to your mailing list. Once you have a list of people interested in a particular subject, you can of course email them offers for your own (paid-for) books and products and those you are an affiliate for.

One Page Publishing Profits sets out lots of other potential uses for one-pagers as well, including supplementary products to accompany a book or ebook. For example, Amazon don’t provide any contact details for people who buy your books or ebooks, but if you advertise a free one-pager in the book many buyers may sign up to get their hands on it. This will work for fiction writers as well as non-fiction, incidentally.

The main part of the manual sets out a six-step method for producing your one-pagers. The steps are as follows:

  1. Select Hot and In-Demand Topics
  2. Grab Your One-Pager Content
  3. Formatting Your One-Pager
  4. Monetizing, Publishing and Selling Your One-Pager
  5. Promoting Your One Page Content
  6. Repurposing and Expanding Your Content

Although One Page Publishing Profits is quite concise, there is still plenty of useful, detailed information in it. In addition, there are links to many other related websites and resources, including some produced by Amy herself (a 16-page downloadable guide to setting up an Etsy store, on which you could sell printable copies of your one-pagers, for example).

As well as the main guide, there are various bonuses. I didn’t see these myself, but they include four over-the-shoulder videos covering the steps set out in the manual, a cheatsheet (of course!), a 19-page guide to generating more subscribers with your one-pagers, a press release template, and more.

Finally, although I’m not normally a big fan of upsells, one of Amy’s did catch my eye. It’s for software that will semi-automate the creation of your one-pagers. Amy says it will help you create cheatsheets in about five minutes. Additional training and templates are included. For the modest extra price, it is definitely worth considering.

In summary, One Page Publishing Profits is a comprehensive guide to writing, publishing and promoting one-pagers, and the many benefits of doing so. It is currently on a launch special offer, after which (as is Amy’s normal practice) the price will be rising by at least $10. If you are looking to build additional income streams for relatively little effort, in my view it is well worth a look.

If you have any comments or questions about One Page Publishing Profits, as always, please do post them below.

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Three Great Posts on Publishing a Box Set on Amazon

Three Great Posts on Publishing a Box Set on Amazon

In this post a few weeks ago I discussed the new option for Amazon self-publishers to produce print copies of their Kindle e-books via the KDP dashboard.

At the time I promised to reveal more based on my own experience, but since then I have been sidetracked by two clients offering me loads of work, as well as the growing popularity of my new Pounds and Sense blog.

Anyway, my friend and near-neighbour Sally Jenkins has now published a series of blog posts covering some of the territory I planned to explore myself. So to avoid any further delay, I thought I would share links to her posts here.

Sally’s posts concern how she created a ‘box set’ of her short stories for sale on Amazon in e-book and print versions. That’s interesting in itself – box sets are a hot trend on Amazon – but what caught my attention especially was the fact that she used the new KDP print publishing tool rather than the older Createspace. If you’ve been thinking of doing this as well, therefore, these posts are well worth reading. They are as follows:

Creating an E-book and Paperback Box Set – Part 1

In this introductory post, Sally explains why she decided to produce a box set of three volumes of her short stories in e-book and print form.

Creating an E-book and Paperback Box Set – Part 2

In this post Sally discusses how she created a cover image for her box set, based on a sort of collage of the three existing e-book covers.

Creating an E-book and Paperback Box Set – Part 3

In this post – which personally I found the most interesting – Sally talks about how she published her new box set using the KDP e-book and print publishing tools. She lists the ways in which KDP print publishing differs from Createspace (which she has also used). She also offers some tips and advice for fellow authors thinking of going down this route. For example, she writes:

Product description – this can be copied from the book’s Kindle product description. However, on publication the line breaks may disappear. My description initially appeared as one mass of text. I queried this with Amazon and was advised to manually insert HTML coding to force the line breaks. To do this insert <br> where a line break is required.

It’s all valuable, eye-opening stuff. As I said in my earlier post, the likelihood is that eventually KDP will become Amazon’s main hub for both e-book and print self-publishing. The future for Createspace after that is uncertain. For this reason if no other, then, it’s good to at least take a look at the KDP print publishing tool now. And if you decide to try it yourself, I’m sure you will find Sally’s tips and advice helpful.

For those new to Kindle publishing, incidentally, I highly recommend Geoff Shaw‘s comprehensive Kindling course. Or if you would like a lower-cost alternative, I also recommend Self Publishing on Amazon 2017, a Kindle e-book by Dr Andy Williams I have been reading recently. This covers both Kindle e-book publishing and print publishing on Createspace, although it doesn’t (yet) include print publishing using KDP.

And, of course, if you enjoy reading beautifully written, character-driven short stories, you should definitely check out A Coffee Break Story Collection by Sally Jenkins!

As ever, if you have any comments or questions about this post (or self-publishing on Amazon more generally), please do leave them below.

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Companion Publishing Profits Review

Review: Companion Publishing Profits by Amy Harrop

Companion Publishing Profits is a new self-publishing guide from my colleague Amy Harrop.

Amy is a successful author herself and the publisher of many guides and software products for authors. She was kind enough to allow me a review copy, so here’s what I found…

Companion Publishing Profits is a guide to making money by publishing books that are intended to accompany or supplement existing content. An example would be a study guide.

The main guide is a 75-page PDF. As you would expect with any of Amy’s publications, this is well written and attractively presented. It is illustrated with screen captures, mainly of related Amazon books and listings.

Amy starts by saying that services such as Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle have made it easy for anyone to self-publish. She adds that companion publishing can be a great way to capitalize on this, as you are effectively piggy-backing on the popularity of other products.

The types of product discussed in the manual include workbooks, journals, study guides, planners, and so on. One big attraction of producing this type of book is that the reader typically provides much of the content him/herself. In effect, you are simply providing an attractively formatted product for them to write in.

Of course, this type of product only really works in print format. So Companion Publishing Profits focuses mainly on using Amazon’s CreateSpace (print on demand) service. Kindle is mentioned as well, though, and there is also a bonus guide to self-publishing on Lulu.com.

There are 11 main chapters, as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Companion Publishing as an Income Stream
  3. Finding Hot-Selling Topics for Companion Publishing
  4. Popular and Effective Companion Content
  5. How to Create Workbooks
  6. Creating Workbook Templates
  7. Creating Journals and Planners
  8. Publishing
  9. How to Position Your Content
  10. Making More Sales
  11. Conclusion

Companion Publishing Profits takes you through a wide range of companion products that are quick and easy to produce, with plenty of examples to set you thinking. It also suggests ways of researching ideas for your own companion products.

The manual goes on to discuss various methods for creating templates for your companion publishing projects. These include buying ready-made templates (including PLR) and making your own using Microsoft Word or Canva. Once you have a template or templates you like, you can of course use them again and again to create your own range of companion publishing products with relatively little extra work.

Publishing on CreateSpace is covered in some detail. As well as the ‘nuts and bolts’ of publishing on the platform, Amy also discusses choosing categories for your book, optimizing your title and description, targeting search keywords, and so forth.

The manual also covers the tricky subject of avoiding copyright and trademark infringement. Amy advises using public domain or out-of-copyright content as much as possible. For example, the Bible offers lots of opportunities for companion publishing, including devotionals and prayer journals. But you can also choose topics that are covered in popular books without mentioning them specifically (e.g. tidying your desk). You can also quote short extracts from popular books under the ‘Fair Use’ exemption in copyright law.

One big advantage of writing and publishing companion books is that there is a large group of people interested in the subjects concerned, who in many cases are actively seeking content related to the topic concerned. If you can publish a book that comes up high in the results when they are searching (either online or on Amazon), you could potentially generate a lot of sales.

Although the guide is fairly concise, it includes links to a range of other resources – some by Amy, some by other people – covering specific issues and questions. The links to templates you can use for your companion-publishing projects are worth the price of the product alone in my view.

As well as the main guide, there are various bonuses. These include a 22-page PDF guide to self-publishing on Lulu (as mentioned earlier) and a 29-page PDF guide to marketing your book. The latter would be relevant to any self-published book, not just companion-publishing products.

There are also five training videos covering various aspects of the process. These are as follows:

  1. Companion books research
  2. Canva for journals and worksheets
  3. Tips for Creating journal prompts
  4. Cresting Worksheets from PLR
  5. Creating worksheets from table of contents research

The videos are attractively produced in the usual screen-capture style. They range from around 3 to 8 minutes in length. The commentary is provided by Amy herself. She speaks quite slowly and clearly, and I had no problems following what she was saying.

In summary, Companion Publishing Profits is a comprehensive guide to writing and publishing books of this nature. It is currently on a launch special offer, after which (as is Amy’s normal practice) the price will be rising by at least $10. If you are looking to build a growing additional income stream for relatively little effort, it is well worth a look.

If you have any comments or questions about Companion Publishing Profits, as always, please do post them below.

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Cookbook Empire Review

Review: Cookbooks Empire by Alessandro Zamboni and Lucrezia Aria

Cookbooks Empire is a guide to making money by writing and publishing your own cookbooks as Kindle e-books (and in hard copy form using Amazon CreateSpace).

Cookbooks are an attractive option for self-publishers. They are steady sellers, and there is a huge range of niches you can target, from gluten-free to low-carb, vegan/vegetarian to Indian, Italian or Greek. A further attraction of cookbooks is that they are ‘evergreen’. A good cookbook has the potential to go on selling well for many years to come.

Cookbooks Empire by Alessandro Zamboni and Lucrezia Aria is a 74-page PDF e-book. The content is presented in chapters as follows:

Introduction
Chapter 1 – Why do we love cookbooks?
Chapter 2 – The ingredients of great cookbooks
Chapter 3 – 10 golden ideas for your books
Chapter 4 – Cookbook creation process
Chapter 5 – Cookbooks advertising
Last words

The book is generally well written. There aren’t many illustrations, but you do get lots of links to useful resources, recipe sites and published cookbooks on Amazon.

Alessandro and Lucrezia talk at some length about how to create recipes for your books if you aren’t a dedicated cook yourself. As a general guideline they say you should avoid copying photos or instructions word for word, but lists of ingredients are okay. If you do copy the latter, however, they recommend acknowledging the original source of the recipe idea and perhaps including a link to it as well.

Cookbooks Empire takes you step by step through researching, writing and publishing your book using KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). It includes details of ten cookbook niches that are selling well currently. There is also valuable information about how best to promote and publicize your book, using social media, forums, classified ads, and so forth.

As well as the main manual – which as stated above focuses on Kindle – you get a 31-page bonus report about publishing a print book (not necessarily a cookbook) on CreateSpace. CreateSpace is, of course, Amazon’s dedicated POD (print on demand) self-publishing service.

Overall, Cookbooks Empire is a practical, readable guide to creating a type of book that doesn’t require huge amounts of content but can potentially generate steady profits for years to come. If you are brand new to publishing on Kindle (or CreateSpace) it may not contain every single detail you need to know (I recommend Geoff Shaw’s Kindling to anyone who wants a comprehensive guide to Kindle publishing). It will, however, definitely open your eyes to a wide range of money-making opportunities in the cookbook field. At the modest asking price of around $13 (10 UKP) I recommend it to any entrepreneurial writer who would like to add another income stream to his/her publishing portfolio.

If you have any comments or questions about Cookbooks Empire, as always, please do post them below.

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Now You Can Publish Kindle Ebooks as Paperbacks Through Kindle Direct Publishing

Now You Can Publish Kindle Ebooks as Paperbacks Through Kindle Direct Publishing

If you’re a Kindle author and haven’t logged into the KDP website recently, you may notice a new option on your Bookshelf.

There is now an option to publish your Kindle e-book as a print-on-demand (POD) paperback via the KDP site. This is quite separate from publishing on Amazon’s CreateSpace platform, incidentally.

I spent some time looking at what is on offer today, so here are my thoughts so far. To start with, it’s not just the case that you click a button and a paperback version is produced from the e-book. Some information is obviously carried over (book title, author name, publishing rights, and so on). However, the text and cover artwork have to be uploaded separately as new files. It does surprise me a bit that you can’t just import the existing text and format it for print, but there we are.

You can download various templates for your book from the KDP website info pages and edit these in Word or other software. Some guidance is provided for doing this, including a downloadable PDF manual. In my case KDP recommended that I use a 9 x 6 inch template. Both blank templates and templates with sample text are available via the KDP website.

Likewise, you can’t just automatically import your existing e-book cover. You have to either create and upload a print-ready PDF (you’ll need software such as Photo Shop to produce this) or use the KDP Cover Creator tool. The latter can produce cover designs suitable for paperback books (front, back and spine) and will import your existing e-book front cover if you wish (and it’s suitable). If you want a consistent look across both the e-book and print version of your book, however, you may face a few challenges.

You can set your own price for the paperback version of your book and receive 60% of the price paid once print costs have been deducted. This is obviously worth doing in order to reach the substantial audience of people who still prefer print books rather than electronic ones.

The KDP paperback creator is still in beta and additional features are promised in due course. One major thing lacking at the moment is any way of purchasing a sample print copy of your book so you can see for yourself what buyers will receive. This is clearly a drawback compared with CreateSpace. Neither do KDP published print books currently receive the extended distribution of CreateSpace titles.

If you currently publish on CreateSpace I can’t therefore see any compelling reason to switch to KDP at the moment. However, the likelihood is that once everything is working as it should KDP will become Amazon’s main hub for both e-book and print self-publishing. The future for CreateSpace after that is uncertain. For this reason if no other, it is a good idea to at least take a look at KDP’s paperback creator tool now.

I have made a start on converting one of my Kindle e-books using the KDP paperback creator, and will post here again once it is available. But I’d love to get your comments and feedback as well, especially if you have tried out the service yourself. Please leave any comments below as usual.

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Why Now is the Time to Start Promoting Your Amazon Affiliate Links Extra Hard

If you are reading this blog, it’s quite likely you have a book or e-book on Amazon. If that’s the case, you should be promoting it extra vigorously right now. 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 through 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 in the coming weeks, in the run-up to Christmas, Diwali and Hanukkah, many people will be 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. Commission starts at just 5 percent, rising to the dizzy heights of 15 percent for some products. By way of comparison, affiliate commissions paid on downloadable products are often over 50 percent, and in some cases up to 100.

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 products 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 latest Kindle e-book on Amazon.com…

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 seasonal banner that is automatically updated by Amazon.

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. For text links Amazon give you about five lines of code which are designed to display your link in a pre-formatted, Amazon-approved style.

If you don’t want their complicated and largely superfluous formatting, here’s a simpler alternative. Use the following framework to construct your link:

—-http://www.amazon.com/dp/ASIN/?tag=yourAssociatesID—-

Or for Amazon UK use:

—http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/ASIN/?tag=yourAssociatesID—-

The ASIN is the unique identification number every product on Amazon has – you will find this in the product details. My own affiliate ID on Amazon UK is nickdawswriti-21, so a basic text link for my e-book above for the UK store would look like this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00DP8HKLQ/?tag=nickdawswriti-21

One slight drawback of this method is that if your visitor is located somewhere with a different national Amazon store, they won’t automatically be redirected. If you are targeting a multinational audience (very likely online) you might therefore like to use the free Geniuslink or Booklinker service.

Both of these are run by the GeoRiot organization. They create a single link that detects where visitors live and automatically forwards them to their own national store, with your affiliate link included if you have entered it for the store concerned.

I wrote about Geniuslink in this recent post, and Booklinker in this one. Geniuslink has a few more bells and whistles than Booklinker, but once your links are generating over 1,000 clicks a month you start paying for the service. Booklinker is a more stripped-down service, but it is free however many clicks your links attract.

Here is a sample link created with Booklinker for my Kindle e-book on plotting: http://mybook.to/ThreeGreat. Click on this and it should take you straight to the appropriate page of your own national Amazon store. Do try it and see 🙂

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

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Editing

Do All Writers Need to Hire an Editor? Here’s Why I Say No!

A trend I’ve noticed recently among writing blogs and websites is a growing consensus that to succeed as a writer, you MUST engage an editor for your work.

This is an assertion that I feel needs to be challenged. Yes, a good editor is a wonderful thing to have, but there are two major stumbling blocks.

First, finding a good freelance editor isn’t as easy as you might think. Bear in mind that anyone can call themselves an editor. As well as the genuinely good ones, there are plenty of deluded amateurs and some out-and-out fraudsters. Sorting out the good from the bad and the ugly is by no means a simple task.

And even if you are lucky and find a good editor, their services aren’t cheap. For a full-length book you can expect to pay several thousand pounds/dollars. If you are self publishing – on Kindle, for example – you need to think carefully whether any boost in sales that may result will cover this.

Self-publishing authors sometimes believe that a freelance editor will be able to help them with the deeper, structural aspects of their book as well. This is akin to the role performed by developmental editors in traditional publishing houses. Whether a freelance editor can realistically offer this service is in my view very doubtful, however.

Developmental editing tends to be a slow, iterative process. The editor typically reads and reflects carefully on the manuscript, then raises queries and offers suggestions to the author. The author duly reflects on this and gives his/her reactions, and so on. This can work very well with a salaried editor who is employed by a publishing house, but it is not really compatible with freelance editing, where you are charged by the page or the hour. If you hire a freelance editor, what you are basically getting is a copy editor. They may (or may not) make the odd structural suggestion as they go, but it is a long way from the in-depth feedback you will get from a developmental editor in a publishing house.

My advice is therefore to ignore anyone who tells you that you MUST hire an editor. Instead, I recommend a two-pronged approach. First, be sure you are fully up to speed with the basics of grammar and punctuation (my course Essential English for Authors might be helpful here – just saying!). Aim to be your own best editor (and proofreader) rather than relying on someone else.

And second, make full use of free and low-cost resources such as beta readers (other authors are often happy to reciprocate in this role) and online forums such as myWritersCircle. Off-line resources such as writers’ groups can be a big help as well. By this means you can get a lot of valuable feedback about your work without spending a fortune.

If you hear of a good editor and can afford their services, by all means use them too. But be realistic about how much benefit you are likely to get from their input, and weigh this carefully against the costs involved.

Remember, also, that with e-book (or POD) publishing, if someone tells you about a mistake, it is a very simple matter to correct and republish. Getting everything 100 percent correct before publishing, while still desirable, is therefore no longer so essential.

Of course, if you’re aiming to get published by a traditional publishing house, some of the above comments may not apply. But still, bear in mind that in-house editors provide their services free of charge if the publisher sees potential in your work. Your objective as an author should therefore be to ensure that your manuscript demonstrates such potential. No freelance editor will be able to ‘fix’ your manuscript if it is basically unpublishable. But that won’t stop them taking your money, of course.

So that’s my view, but what do you think? Should all aspiring writers be told to hire an editor for their work, or is this (as I think) unrealistic in many cases? Please post any comments you may have below.

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