by Kristen Eckstein
It doesn’t matter if you’re a children’s book author, fiction writer, non-fiction how-to author, business person, or even a fine artist. The fact is, in this modern age of book publishing, you’re in business…
You’re in sales, you’re in the business of selling books, and hopefully you’re in the business of using your books as a gateway to make even more money with external products and services.
Any seasoned author will tell you that you won’t quickly get rich off book sales profits and royalties alone. The average traditionally-published non-fiction book royalty is a whopping 6% after print cost and the distributor’s discount.
That’s about 9 cents on a book that retails for $10. To make back the average advance of $500 for this type of book, you’d have to sell 5,556 copies. That’s over 5,500 copies before you’d see another penny from the publisher!
On the same indie-published book (that is, you own the distribution rights and publish under your own name, not through a self-publishing services company or vanity publisher), you’d make about $1.50 per copy.
To make $500 in book sales alone, you’d still need to sell over 300 copies.
Figure in that the average self-published book sells a whopping 75 copies, and you can quickly see that there’s not a lot of money to be made on book sales alone.
This is why it’s so important to have a back end to your book—a way to make money using your book as a catalyst and marketing tool rather than the sole product. There are two popular ways to make money beyond your book:
- Recommend other people’s products and services
- Your own products and services
I’ll spend a little time on each in this article so you can start implementing them and watch your bank account balance rise!
Affiliate Sales—Get Paid to Recommend Other People’s Products!
Affiliate marketing is a fancy internet term for a referral program. Companies have had referral programs forever. They reward loyal customers who refer their friends. Some doctors will put your name on their waiting room wall if you refer a new patient.
Some massage centers and spas give you a free massage if you refer a new client. When the Internet became a popular place to sell products and services, the referral and reward system had to adapt. That’s when the affiliate link was born.
An affiliate system is a system of customized links someone can use to sell someone else’s books, training courses, coaching programs, and more.
Affiliate sales are how you can sell other people’s products and services (without doing the work to create them yourself!) and make ongoing continuous passive income on those sales.
A note about Amazon’s Associates (Affiliate) Program
While Amazon’s affiliate program works well for selling your own books and other books you like and recommend on your own website, their terms of service state you cannot include affiliate links to products on their website inside your e-book.
If you use your Amazon affiliate links inside your Kindle book, you run the risk of being reported to Amazon and even losing your Amazon KDP account altogether.
Please be careful, as these terms of service have ruined some well-respected industry professionals’ income streams due to them losing all their content and rights to publish on Kindle.
Just to be clear, This does NOT mean you can’t include affiliate links to anyone else’s products and services in your Kindle book or printed book. What it does mean is that you can’t use Amazon affiliate links in your Kindle book.
What to affiliate?
You may be surprised how many companies you currently purchase from that have an affiliate program in place—you’re just not using it yet. When I first entered the wide world of affiliate marketing (thanks to one of my coaches, Bob The Teacher Jenkins), I was shocked at how much money I was missing out on.
Today I can tell you about 10% of my monthly income comes from passive affiliate sales, and it continues to grow. I’ve spent the past several years writing articles on my blog and publishing books with affiliate links embedded in them, and almost daily I get an email saying I’ve earned a commission, even on a link I published two or three years ago!
Most companies that offer an affiliate program will have a link in the header or footer of their website that simply says, “Affiliates” or “Affiliate Program.” Some call them “Partners” and some may have their partner affiliate page hidden.
When in doubt, contact the company you purchased a product or service from, or even one you simply recommend on a regular basis, and ask them if they have an affiliate program.
Here is a very incomplete list of possible places to look for an affiliate program:
- Domain name registrars
- Website hosting companies
- Website themes like Optimize Press
- Tools and software like DropBox, GoToMyPC, Scrivener
- Services like BookBaby and TheBookNinja (that’s my site!)
Your Own Products and Services
Being an author, you probably already have at least one product—your book. And being a smart, savvy author, you understand the more books you write, the more you’ll naturally sell.
So it’s almost a no-brainer that one of the things you should feature in the back of your book is your other books.
You can also create and sell other products and use your book as a marketing tool to build your list and encourage readers to learn more from you. Here are some more ideas for products you can create:
- Checklists or Quick Start guides
- Mini audio course
- Video e-course
Even with fiction books you can create additional products:
- Open an e-store with your characters and book cover art printed on products (Zazzle.com or CafePress.com)
- Bookmarks and postcards
Allow the gears in your brain to start working on ideas you can implement to diversify your income well beyond your book.
This article was originally published on The Future of Ink and is reprinted here in its entirety for our Magnolia Media Network readers.