Amazon Associates Publishing Book Sales

The Amazon Associates program is my longest standing business relationship on the web. I've been with them so long that I remember when they sent us all T-Shirts. Mine wore out back around '98 (hint, hint). While the Associates program adds a couple hundred dollars a month to my bottom line and helps me promote my own titles on Amazon, I think my favorite part is the reports. I'm just a numbers freak, always looking for causal relationships and trying to reverse engineer systems from the outside. Just for a change, I thought I'd share my Associates sales of publishing books for the last quarter, April - June 2007. I'm leaving out titles that sold less than 5 copies, and were are a lot of them.

My top publishing book for the quarter was my own Print on Demand Book Publishing, as it better be! It sold 73 copies through Associates during the quarter, just under a copy a day, and essentially all of the sales were direct. A direct sale is where a customer clicks on my Amazon link and buys the book as a result.

My second and third best selling books of the quarter were both Aaron Shepard's. Associates logged 33 sales of Aiming at Amazon and 24 sales of Perfect Pages. In the case of Aiming, only a quarter of the sales were direct, which means most of the customers went to Amazon to see my book and then purchased Aaron's in addition, or instead. In the case of Perfect, half the sales were direct, the other half were probably split between people finding Perfect by way of my book and by way of Aiming.

Associates also logged 11 sales each of Steve Weber's The Home-Based Bookstore and Dan Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual. In the case of Weber's book, all 11 sales were direct, from my page about Amazon sales ranks. In the case of Poynter's book, all the sales were indirect, people arriving at Amazon by way of my book or one of the others, then buying the Self-Publishing Manual. Bringing up the long tail was Steve Weber's Plug Your Book with seven sales, all but one indirect, so I can't be doing a very good job plugging it.

On a lark, I went back and looked at the Associates report from my last pre-blogging quarter, April - June 2005. It turns out I only sold 26 copies of my publishing book through Associates that quarter, and I didn't sell five or more copies of any other publishing book. So I can credit the blog with tripling the Associates sales for that title and boosting publishing book sales in general. That doesn't mean that I'm selling more overall than I did a year or two ago, in fact, I know I'm selling less than last year. It just means I'm getting less bang for my force-multiplier buck on the Amazon site itself, thanks to a lot of new competition and the widespread use of on-Amazon promotion techniques I've stayed away from.


Team said...

Hi Morris, I'm glad to contribute to one of your book sales last quarter! Shouldn't say you didn't plug Steve's "Plug Your Book" well because I bought it simply because of your recommendation; in fact I saw it twice before but never bothered until you mentioned it. There's a reason your blog contributed to your sales. You offer honest and down-to-earth advice. You, my friend, are a trusted source. There's absolutely no fluff even when you're talking about the most mundane things. Your blog is only two I frequent and look forward to. Just know if people are like me (yikes!) they're reading it -- learning and laughing along the way. Thank you for the updates and keep up the good work. By the way, thanks for your kind reply and wonderful advice a few weeks ago. Thomas

Morris Rosenthal said...


Thank you for the kind words. I realized after the fact that I never got around to the analysis side of the post. I'd meant to point out which titles were Amazon "Better Together's" with each other and which were in "Also Bought" lists. I suppose I could do that in this comment, but then I'd use up a potential subject for a later post, so I guess I'll hold off.


Trever McFaddon said...

I may have missed something from a blog or two ago, but I thought you were running your book through Lightning Source. Right? How are you getting kick backs for Aaron Shepard's books? They look like they are published by Para Publishing. Is this you? Thanks in advance for clarification on this point.

Morris Rosenthal said...


I absolutely use Lightning Source to print my books. You're mixing some apples and oranges here. The Amazon Associates program that I'm talking about in this post is available to everybody, you don't have to be a publisher or an author, you just need a website.

Para Publishing is Dan Poynter's company, it publishes the Self Publishing manual amongst other titles. It doesn't publish Aaron Shepard's books. BTW, Amazon calls the money earned from their Associates program referral fees or something of the sort. I think the term kick-back is usually used for criminal activity:-)


Josh said...


Out of curiosity - what's the approximate percentage of your Amazon referral sales vs. total sales?


Morris Rosenthal said...


For the book in question, I'd attribute about a third of the sales to direct Associates referral. However, I'd attribute two thirds of the eventual sales to Associates referrals, that's just my rule of thumb. There are a lot of reasons that people don't purchase a book on their first visit to Amazon, finding it while sneaking some research in on a work or school computer where they don't want to use their credit card is probably major. Overall, my estimate of an additional sale per paid referral is lower than many Internet shopping studies suggest. But in any case, I figure a good two thirds of the eventual sales are attributable to my website, and that remaining third wouldn't be there if the website hadn't jump-started the process at the beginning.

The results are going to vary from title to title. My publishing book is on the Also Bought lists of some strong sellers and is also mentioned in various books and on many websites, but my PowerPoint cover design and emphasis of Print-on-Demand in the title turn off a lot of potential buyers. The sell-through (the number of people clicking through to Amazon who purchase the title) has always been my lowest. It's also pretty much invisible in Amazon search and community lists due to competition.