Posted on 2015-Feb-24
Buy Links in Your Back Matter
One great advantage of eBooks is that you can load them with promotional back matter to encourage your readers to connect with you, learn more about you, and, most importantly, buy your other books. The tactical use of hyperlinks in your back matter that go to the various vendor product pages can really help increase sales. Additionally, you can use affiliate links at most vendors to make a few extra bucks. We discussed this in detail here; however, there are some pitfalls and technicalities that you should be aware of when using these embedded buy links in your eBooks.
Vendor Limitations on Buy Links
You can use affiliate links and link to your product pages at any eBook vendor. However, you cannot reference other vendors. For example, if in your Nook EPUB, you link to a product page for Amazon, your book might not be allowed for publishing via Nook Press. The most egregious offenders of this policy are Smashwords and iTunes. Therefore, different content is required for your eBook for each different vendor if you would like to use buy links. Let's talk about each different vendor.
Buy Links and Affiliate Program for Amazon
There is some confusion as to whether using affiliate links are allowed at Amazon, but we have seen hundreds of authors use them without incident. You can sign up for the affiliate program here. As an example of the affiliate code to use in the URL, ours is bbeb-20.
For the Kindle app for iPhone/iPad, Apple products will physically block any link to Amazon in your eBook and your readers will get the dreaded "The operation is not currently supported" message. As a workaround to this, you can use a link shortener for your Amazon links like bitly, goo.gl, or Pretty Links.
Product Page Prototype: http://www.amazon.com/dp/ASIN
Product Page Prototype w/Affiliate: http://www.amazon.com/dp/ASIN?tag=affiliatecode
Buy Links and Affiliate Program for iTunes
Anyone can sign up for the iTunes affiliate program (even if you don’t own a Mac!) The affiliate code is 6 alphanumerics assigned once you get the account. As an example of the affiliate code to use in the URL, ours is 11lqHd.
iTunes links should not use a link shortening tool like bitly or goo.gl. The reason is if they are native iTunes links (i.e. http://itunes.apple.com…), a nice little pop-up window with the option to buy will appear within the iBooks app when the reader clicks on the link. If you use a link shortening tool, the reader will get punched out of iBooks and taken into the web-browsing app Safari. Please note that many people leave in the country code inside the URL (e.g. us, ca, etc.); however you can remove it if you like.
Product Page Prototype: https://itunes.apple.com/book/some-book/idxxx?mt=11
Product Page Prototype w/Affiliate: https://itunes.apple.com/book/some-book/idxxx?mt=11&uo=4&at=affiliatecode
Buy Links and Affiliate Program for Nook
The Nook affiliate program is run by the Rakuten Affiliate Network. Once you have a Rakuten account, you have to contact the Nook via email to get an affiliate account set up (it explains how to do so within your Rakuten account). Once you get approved as a Nook affiliate, they use a very complicated URL system and you have to get individual affiliate links by plugging in the Nook product page links and getting back the affiliate links.
Apple also blocks all Barnes and Noble links, so you may want to consider using a link shortener.
Product Page Prototype: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/book/id?ean=xxx
Product Page Prototype w/Affiliate: http://click.linksynergy.com…
Buy Links and Affiliate Program for Kobo
Like Nook, the Kobo affiliate program is run by the Rakuten Affiliate Network. Once you have a Rakuten account, you can automatically enroll (you do not have to email them like with Nook). Getting the affiliate code is the same as Nook whereby you have to get the really long click.linksynergy.com links from the Rakuten website and use those.
Kobo once had two hyperlink schemes. One looked like http://store.kobobooks.com/somebook. However, this recently changed and now store.kobobooks.com links route into the http://www.kobobooks.com hyperlink scheme. Please note: the former store.kobobooks.com still work for the time being; they just redirect to the product page on www.kobobooks.com.
Product Page Prototype: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/somebook/xxx/page1.html
Product Page Prototype w/Affiliate: http://click.linksynergy.com…
Buy Links and Affiliate Program for Smashwords
Anyone can sign up for the Smashwords affiliate program and it has a very generous payout of 11% of net price. The affiliate code to use in the URL should be the same as your account name. As an example of the affiliate code to use in the URL, ours is bbebooks.
When publishing at Smashwords, even if you are distributing through Nook, Kobo, etc.; make sure that you only have buy links to Smashwords itself. Since the same EPUB is aggregated to Nook, Kobo, iTunes, and elsewhere, they get snippy if you have any vendor references aside from Smashwords. Many authors choose not to have Smashwords links, since they will show up on iTunes and Kobo for example. In this case, we recommend using your website (see below).
Product Page Prototype: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/xxx
Product Page Prototype w/Affiliate: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/xxx?ref=affiliatecode
Buy Links for Google Play
Google Play suspended its affiliate program a few years ago; however, linking to the product pages is really easy. Based on the country of origin for the reader, Google Play will display local currencies and languages. Please note that this is not based on the embedded URL; rather, Google automatically determines the reader's country of origin and the product page will be based on the reader's language and country settings in their Google account.
Product Page Prototype: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/bookname?id=xxx
Product Page Prototype w/Affiliate: N/A
Buy Links and Affiliate Program for All Romance Ebooks
All Romance eBooks has an affiliate program and you can contact them to sign up for it here. The affiliate code to use in the URL is assigned to you via the email they send you. As an example of the affiliate code to use in the URL, ours is 52b038d50929a.
Product Page Prototype: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-some-book.html
Product Page Prototype w/Affiliate: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-some-book.html?referrer=affiliatecode
Buy Links for Draft 2 Digital and other Vendors
For Draft2Digital, since they aggregate to other vendors, and for small-scale vendors where it would be too time-consuming to make all the buy links, it is recommended that you use a "Universal" type approach. You can use links to your website or product pages on your website rather than specific vendor product pages. Alternatively, you may not want to use hyperlinks at all, just opting for a list of your books.
Let BB eBooks Help You
If you are interested in working with BB eBooks for your formatting project, we would be happy to help get the buy links sorted out for you. We like to think that adding buy links is a specialty of ours, and we can support multiple-vendor eBook builds (including Amazon, Nook, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, Google Play, and many more). Please feel free to contact us anytime about your project.
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