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What’s The Best Way To Include Photos In A Book? Other Questions Answered By Orna Ross And Michael La Ronn In Our Member Q&A Podcast

What’s the Best Way to Include Photos in a Book? Other Questions Answered by Orna Ross and Michael La Ronn in our Member Q&A Podcast

What’s the best way to include photos in a book? This is among the questions answered on our #AskALLi Members Q&A hosted by Michael La Ronn, author of science fiction and fantasy novels as well as author self-help books; and ALLi Director, author, and poet Orna Ross.

Other questions include:

  • Do I need to get permission to quote work from a deceased celebrity?
  • How do I get my book into bookstores?
  • How can I be a lean marketer?
  • How can I maximize my income with the Amazon Associates program?

And more!

Our Members Q&A Podcast is brought to you by specialist sponsor Kobo Writing Life, a global, independent ebook and audiobook publishing platform that empowers authors with a quick and easy publishing process and unique promotional opportunities. To reach a wide audience, create your account today! We’d like to thank Kobo for their support of this podcast.

Find more author advice, tips and tools at our Self-publishing Author Advice Center, with a huge archive of nearly 2,000 blog posts, and a handy search box to find key info on the topic you need.

And, if you haven’t already, we invite you to join our organization and become a self-publishing ally. You can do that at http://allianceindependentauthors.org.

Now, go write and publish!

Listen to the Podcast: Photos in a Book and More

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Watch the Q&A: Photos in a Book and More

What's the best way to include photos in a book? This is among the questions answered on the #AskALLi Members Q&A #podcast with @OrnaRoss and @MichaelLaRonn. Click To Tweet

About the Hosts

Michael La Ronn is the author of over 30 books of science fiction & fantasy and authors self-help books. His books include the Galaxy Mavericks series and Modern Necromancy series. You can now find his new writing course on Teachable.

Orna Ross launched the Alliance of Independent Authors at the London Book Fair in 2012. Her work for ALLi has seen her named as one of The Bookseller’s “100 top people in publishing”. She also publishes poetry, fiction and nonfiction, and is greatly excited by the democratising, empowering potential of author-publishing. For more information about Orna, visit her website: http://www.ornaross.com

Read the Transcripts: Photos in a Book and More

Orna Ross: Hello everyone, and welcome to the Alliance of Independent Authors’ Monthly Member Q&A. I’m here with Michael La Ronn. Hi, Michael.

Michael La Ronn: Hi, Orna. Happy October.

Orna Ross: October already. Oh, wow. Yes, and we are here, as ever, to answer our members questions and only members can submit questions for this, but of course anybody can listen in and join in. And if you are here today, live, please feel free to leave any questions or comments in the chat, and we’ll try to address them if we have time. But we have a fairly packed schedule of questions, I think, today, and Michael is the man who has them. So, shall we get started?

Should I use my author name as the publisher when buying an ISBN?

Michael La Ronn: Yes, indeed. So, our first question is from Tom, and the question is, I am buying my ISBNs. Do I use my authors name as the publisher of record, or should I make up a fictitious company to do it, like my publishing company?

Orna Ross: Yeah. Great. So, whatever you do, it shouldn’t be fictitious. So, it should be part of your business, and it is perfectly acceptable for you to use your author name. You can also use your publishing name, as you said. And you have a third option, you could have just an imprint name. So, some authors use different imprint names for different series that they run, for example, particularly if they’re in very different genre. If they’ve one line of books that’s nonfiction, and one that’s poetry, and one that’s fiction, then they would use a different imprint name for each of those. All of that gets a bit complicated. The registering of your actual books is not a hugely important thing, it’s really a piece of administration. So, it’s up to you how you would like to handle it, you can do any one of those three things.

I will say that something is emerging in the community at the moment that is having an effect on this question. So, it’s slightly at a tangent, but it’s relevant so I’m just going to bring it up, which is that Facebook is, if your author name is different to your actual name, and for very, very, very many of us that is the case. For both of us here talking to you, that’s the case. And for many of you listening, I know that will also be the case. Facebook is now challenging, it used to turn a bit of a blind die for authors, but it is now challenging this, and a number of our members have found their Facebook pages switched off because they can’t show their passport, to match the author name on their Facebook page, and so on.

So, what Facebook want, and I think what we’re being kind of led into more and more as we develop, as the community develops, and as author publishing develops as a sector, is that we set up an actual incorporated business for our books, which then Facebook accepts the certificate of incorporation, and that name is an actual company name that has real legal standing, which, when we use an author name, a pseudonym, we don’t have any legal standing. So, that’s something you might want to consider when you’re deciding what you’re going to put in that box, which asks what name you’re going to publish under. Any thoughts, Michael?

Michael La Ronn: Nope, no thoughts at all.

Do I need barcodes to sell my books?

The second part of the Tom’s question is, do I need barcodes?

Orna Ross: Yes, if you’re going to sell commercially, in shops, you’re going to need a barcode on your print book. Obviously, barcodes don’t go on eBooks or audiobooks, but when it comes to print, if you want to distribute your print in a commercial way, you will need a barcode to trade in shops. So, you don’t have to worry too much about it if you’re using, as we recommend, the Amazon/Ingram POD method to distribute your books, because they will provide a barcode for you. But if you are going to run a consignment print of your own, then acquiring a barcode is part of what you need to do, and your publishing service should be able to help you with that.

What should I consider when looking for a traditional publisher?

Michael La Ronn: So, our next question is from Latrice, and the question is, Orna, what are some important things to look for in getting a traditional publisher?

Now, we are the Alliance of Independent Authors, so everybody should know where our sympathies lie here, but we’ve got the question, so we’ll answer it anyway.

Orna Ross: If we get questions, we answer them. That’s the policy. Okay, Latrice. So, what I would like to invite you to do is to begin to think of this a little bit differently.

So, you are, as Michael says, you are an author and we are the Alliance of Independent Authors, and one of the things we do is we foster independent spirit in the author community. That does not mean you will never use a publisher to publish your books. What that means though, is that you become very cognizant of the fact that you are the rights holder and owner of your work, as all authors are.

But today you have lots and lots of options as to how you get your work out into the world. One of the ways, one of the pathways, that we’ve seen our members take to getting a traditional publishing deal is to self-publish very well. When you start to sell a lot of books yourself, you will find that publishers come looking to you, making offers to you. And those publishers will not just be necessarily in your home territory. They may be in other countries, offering you translation deals. They may be TV, or radio stations, or magazine outlets who want to serialize your books. In other words, your book represents lots and lots of different rights that you can sell.

The old days, when an author sold all rights to one publisher, are beginning to fade away, and that’s a good thing for authors. That’s an empowering thing for authors. We now think of our books as having lots of different rights, and we sell them in different ways to different people.

And we sell them only to those that we know can do a better job for us than we can do for ourselves. And to be perfectly frank, in many cases, publishers cannot do as good a job for us as we can do for ourselves, for a variety of reasons. I’ll just mention two. One is that you will be just one author to them, whereas to you, you’re a somebody that, you know, your books will always be super important to you, and you’ll always be the person who cares most about them. That’s one reason.

The second one is that you can reach your readers with such amazing tools these days. Some of the tools we have as author publishers are actually better than the tools that commercial publishers have.

So, the first thing we would say to you is, stop, before you decide you want a traditional publisher, and you may well decide at the end of the thinking period that yes, you still want this. In which case, your best route way to getting a traditional publishing deal is to acquire an agent first. But I would say to you that no agent is going to be interested, very few agents are, you know, it’s really, really difficult to get an agent for a first manuscript these days. Because self-publishing it exists, agents and publishers now wants to see some kind of track record. It’s just becoming more and more difficult to sell a first manuscript.

So, yeah, that’s a variety of thoughts, which may not have been the exact answer that you were looking for, but I do think that is an honest summation of where things are for authors today.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah. I mean, it boils down to what you want from your career. I mean, do you want to be doing this a long time? Because if you do, you’re going to sign a publishing contract, and you’re probably going to give away the copyright for your book, and it might even restrict the amount of books that you can publish.

So, the contract is another part of this as well that I just wish more people would think about when you’re doing this, because there are ramifications that will have consequences for the rest of your writing career potentially. So, make a decision, but don’t make it lightly, but certainly make the choice that’s best for you and your goals and your business.

Orna Ross: Yeah. So, I guess what we’re both saying, and what everybody at ALLi says is, make this decision from a place of being informed. Don’t just assume that a traditional deal is the best way.

Please download, if you’re a member of ALLi, please download your free guidebooks which will help you, not only to understand how to self-publish, but it will also, my own book, Creative Self-Publishing, will bring you through the whole process of understanding whether self-publishing is right for you, because it’s not for everybody, that has to be said; it’s challenging and not everybody can do it. But if you can, it will also bring you through the whole concept of selective rights licensing, which is this idea we’re talking about whereby you wouldn’t trade your entire copyright, as you used to do in the old days when you had no choice, but you would selectively license particular rights to a trade publisher, if that’s the way you decided you wanted to handle it.

So, as often here on our Q&A, it’s a big, big question, and we only have time to skim across the top, but we go into it in detail in our guidebooks. So, do download your guidebooks free in eBook form, if you’re a member, or you can buy them at selfpublishingadvice.org/shop.

Michael La Ronn: Yes. So, the next question is…I lost the question here. Next question is regarding copyright. What were you going to say?

How do indie authors sell foreign rights?

Orna Ross: I was just going to pick up, Carol has just come in with a question which is kind of related, how do indies sell foreign rights?

And Carol, we would say that you can actually make pitches to a foreign rights publishers or foreign rights agents, as an indie. They will be more interested if you’ve sold well at home. If you have sold well somewhere, it doesn’t have to be at home actually, it can be some other country where you’ve inexplicably picked up, which happens to our members as well. But always bear in mind, a rights holder is not there to oblige you. A rights holder is there because they think they can make money out of you. Sorry, not a rights holder, a rights buyer. I beg your pardon. A rights buyer wants to actually trade in something that you have to offer. You license the right to translation, or whatever it might be to them, because they have expertise that you don’t have, or they’ve got time and resources that you wouldn’t put into this particular aspect. So, it’s a trade-off, it’s business. And so, you can get a list of foreign sub-agents. You can get a list of foreign publishers who are actively trading in indie book rights at the moment, and you can just pitch them. And if you have had some success at home, you’re likely to have some success abroad. There is no mystery to this, it’s straightforward administration. It’s all in our book about rights, again, which is downloadable from the member zone, free of charge if you’re a member.

And Carol asks, does ALLi help with booklets, et cetera? Yes, we do help. We have, as I said, How to Sell Your Publishing Rights, is a book that you can download, which explains everything. But we also have an agent, a dedicated literary agent, that we work with, who works on behalf of our members who can answer your queries, any questions you might have around this arena, and he even represents some of our members if they’re in his niche area, and so on.

So, yeah, hop inside, log into the member zone, go to the rights section, and you’ll see that everything is fully covered in there.

How do I get my book into independent bookstores?

Michael La Ronn: Okay. Next question is, how do I get my book into independent bookstores? That’s from Elizabeth.

Orna Ross: Yes, Elizabeth, hi. So, the first thing to do is to ensure you have your distribution set up. So, you need to have a way in which those stores can actually access your book, you know, call in your book if they need and want it. The second thing you have to do is create a desire in the bookstores to have your book. Bookstores are very, very tight for space. They are approached constantly day in, day out by trade publishers and other self-publishers who all want some of that space. So, you’re entering in, when you go to this way of getting your books out into the world, you are going to the most challenging area for a self-publisher, and the one that has the least financial rewards. Because once you’re distributing books into independent bookstores, they need to get their cut, the distributor needs to get their cut, maybe a wholesaler involved that needs to get their cut, IngramSpark, or whoever you choose to actually do your fulfilment, and printing and distribution, they need to get their cut. There’s not a lot left for you. So, that’s why we really recommend, particularly if you’re starting out, and often this is the question that people ask at the beginning. Particularly if you’re starting out, we really recommend that you get good at selling eBooks online first, or even audiobooks online first, both of which are now much more straightforward. And then have print as the next step, because print is more complex and less lucrative.

And I do understand that a lot of authors have the dream of seeing their book in a bookstore, and you can arrange it locally with more ease. But again, we have a guidebook by Debbie Young, How to Get Your Book into Bookstores, and she goes into all of these questions in more detail than time permits here.

So, if you’re still interested in death after that little off-put, then again, go to the member zone and download your guidebook there.

How can I make money as an indie author without taking on too much?

Michael La Ronn: All right. Our next question is from Leonardo, and I’ll summarize the general spirit of his question, which is, how can I focus my writing and minimize my marketing efforts to still be profitable?

So, in other words, how can I be a lean writer and do the things that only I need to do while also making money?

Orna Ross: Yeah, this is the best question. This is the question we all need to ask ourselves all the time, and this is the question, really, as a self-publisher, you’re always having to balance those two things, and both writing and marketing are infinite. You can just write more and more, you can market better and better, and let more and more people know about your book, do more and more promotions. It’s un-ending, and so you have to find that perfect place. So, it’s a great, great question. You have to find that perfect place of balance, that allows you to do what you do, which is number one and primarily, write and publish, produce stock. You can’t sell what you ain’t got. So, that’s your number one, always.

And then number two, make sure that people know, the right people, the right readers, know that your books are available and what they can expect if they buy them, you know, what kind of book it is, what promise it is making to the reader, and so on.

Again, speaking of questions that are too big to answer in the limited amount of time that we have, this is a prime one of those. So, all we can do is give some tips, but I’ll give a few, and I know, Michael, you’ve got loads of great tips in the marketing arena.

I would return to that idea that we mentioned already, marketing digitally is so much easier, and cheaper and so on, than trying to market books through bookstores. So, I would very much say, concentrate on eBooks first and audiobooks, if you’ve invested in audio, and in turn concentrate on selling online.

You need to set up, and this is the number one tip, you need a website. Now, this is your basic, you need a website, and you need an email system whereby people who like the kind of books that you write can actually sign up to hear more about what you do and how you do it and when your books are on sale and so on. So, you need a tantalizing offer that will make them give you their email address. And your website needs to really, very clearly and very quickly, reflect what you do, so that anybody who tumbles onto your side would say straight away, this is the kind of books they are, I like those books, or I don’t like those books. I’m gone if I don’t. I’m hanging around here and I’m going to explore and browse a bit if I do.

And you also need a transactional website so that if somebody does end up on your website, they actually know what to do, you have a shop there so they can go and they can buy and download your book immediately and pay you for the privilege. So, that’s your absolute fundamental, sort of, marketing.

There are three kinds of marketing. One is what I call access marketing, and that is all about attracting the readers to do the signup situation. So, bringing in the right readers and giving them something back in return that keeps them on your mailing list and keeps them interested in what you do.

The second kind of marketing is what I call algorithm marketing, and that focuses on the services. Amazon in particular, its algorithms are famous among authors, and for good reason, because getting picked up by the Amazon algorithm can actually give your books a really good boost, the sort of boost that you could never give them yourselves, and this requires you to become good at digital marketing.

You can also do digital marketing through Facebook, through Google, and many other ways. Google has not, for most authors, proved very effective, but Facebook marketing has. And so, there’s a whole world of learning, if you like, around algorithms and how you use them to boost what you can do for yourself.

So yeah, and then there are promotional tools of all kinds, which are available in the indie author-sphere, and if you follow our selfpublishingadvice.org blog, and if you go to the marketing section, you’ll see a lot of advice there about how to bring your books to the right readers.

Over to you, Michael. I’m sure you’ve loads to add.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah. I mean, everything you said was great. I would hit it from a strategic perspective as well in that, what are the things that energize you, and what are the things that suck your energy out? And can you find a way to do only the things that energize you while making money? And I think the answer is for a lot of people, yes, if you can figure out what those things. So, if there’s a type of marketing that you just don’t like doing, and maybe you’re not good at it either, or maybe it’s just not something you want to do. Like, for me personally, Facebook ads are just not my thing. If I ever do them, I’m going to hire somebody because adds just don’t energize me, you know, digging through ad data and data analysis, figuring out ads, it just doesn’t. But I recognize that it’s probably something I should do. So, the question is, what are the things that energize you, and then what are the things that don’t energize you, and for the things that don’t energize you, do you need to do them in order to make money?

And if you do, further down the road, maybe that’s something that you can outsource, or something that you can get help with. And so, I think, one of the things that I’ve tried to do with my writing business is, how do I build a writing business that runs itself, right? And that’s driven by technology, driven by automation, driven by outsourcing and working with people to help me do things. And that’s something you can start, even when you’re relatively new. It just requires you to learn how to think about what you want to do. So, I would hit it from that high-level too.

Orna Ross: Very good. And the other thing is then to get very, very focused around what your value is to the reader, so to really understand your genre, to know who else is doing well in your genre, particularly the indie authors, to take a look at how they’re doing things, because it does vary enormously across the three macro genre, and even within those genre. It’s impossible for us to say, without taking a really good look at your author business and your books, for us to say how you should reach that magic balance between your marketing time and your writing time, it’s going to be different for different authors. And as Michael said, your own personal inclinations and preferences will come into it too, because what you don’t like doing, you’re generally not very good at doing, I think. That’s just the way it goes.

You can always outsource, but at the beginning, pay a lot of attention to your reader, and the value that you’re offering the reader, and how you attract the reader. I think that’s really, at the start, that’s where your attention should focus most, and that’s what we should keep coming back to all the time, because our reader group changes and morphs as we develop as authors all. But also, because trends change, and fashions change, and what people want from us change. So, staying very close to your readers, and understanding your value to those particular readers, I think is really important. And at the beginning, if you are advertising, or even if you’re just reaching out and trying to get people to your website, it’s much easier to get them to sign up, and then, once they know, like, and trust you, to ask them to buy a book. Rather than asking them, I see too many indie authors who are unknown, asking, and you’re always unknown until the reader gets to know you and has read your book. If they haven’t heard of you at all, trying to get them to buy your book straight-off is actually quite a big ask.

Think about it yourself, how often do you buy a book from somebody you’ve absolutely never heard of, not seen any good reviews on, nobody brought you over to the website and said, you have to buy their book, it’s great. So, at the beginning, don’t try to get the sale. At the beginning, try to get to sign up. And then when you have the sign-up, make sure you communicate with your readers so that they know that they can like you and they can trust you, and then they will buy from you if you understand your value, what you’re offering them, and you make it sound enticing. They will buy readers, want good books to read, and if you fulfil their needs, they will buy.

How do I become a member of ALLi?

Michael La Ronn: All right. And we have a very timely, good question from Lawrence McDonough, I’m sure you hear this a lot, but how do I become a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors?

Orna Ross: It’s pretty easy. You go to allianceindependentauthors.org, and if you press the join button, you’ll see there all the benefits that you get. And you choose your category depending on whether you are yet to publish, or whether you have already published a book, or are already earning a living from writing. So, they’re our three categories of author member.

Associate members are preparing for publication, published authors are Author members, and those who are earning their living from writing at this point are Authorpreneur members.

Do I need permission to use a quote in my book?

Michael La Ronn: Yep. Yep. Just make sure you’re listing here. So, we’ve got two more questions here. The first one is a very good one, which is from, I missed the name, I don’t know why, my browser is acting up today. So, you know who you are who asked this question, but the question is, they want to get a quote, or want to use a quote from a person who has died. In this case, Christa McAuliffe, she was a teacher that was aboard the Challenger spacecraft that unfortunately exploded in the eighties, and a very inspirational person, and this person wants to use a quote from her. And the question is, do I need to get permission to do that?

Orna Ross: You don’t need to. Unless you feel you want to, you can just go ahead and use that quote. I’m sure they will be pleased.

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, my answer to that, Orna, would be the opposite of yours. It would be to always get permission. The reason is, you never know, you just never know. In this case, I don’t think anybody’s going to come to your house and twist your arm because you used a quote, but I have heard of situations where estates have come after people for using quotes.

Orna Ross: Oh, okay. Fair enough. Let’s refine it a little bit more then. I was assuming, and perhaps wrongly, that the quote that was being sought was a verbal quote. In other words, that it wasn’t from a long quote from a book. If it’s short quote, and it’s something that has been, you know, an inspirational quote that has been quoted already, used on the internet, and isn’t, you are, I would say, very safe in the sense that fair use should cover it if it’s a short quote from a book, and if it’s already in the public domain, that’s another further level.

There is, I would totally agree with Michael, in saying that there’s never any harm in checking, and there’s never any harm in making sure that you’re okay for fair use, and understanding those terms and topics is important.

So, you’ve heard both sides, because this is something also that you will find with publishing, sometimes there isn’t a straight yes or no answer. And we do our best to give the answers that we feel are most accurate, but, not often, but sometimes, Michael and I worked together on our book, 150 Questions Answered and in, I think pretty much every chapter, there was some parts where we said, well, Michael says this and Orna says that, and we leave it up to people to make up their own mind. So, yeah, let’s do that with this one too.

Michael La Ronn: Let me tee it up like this. If I publish a book, that book is copyrighted, right? So, if somebody wants to use a quote from one of my books, gosh, I would hope that somebody would reach out and say, Hey Michael, here’s a sum of money, can I use this? Or at least reach out and say, hey, can I use it? And the answer is probably, most of the time, sure.

Now, we’re speaking verbally right now, right? And this podcast is going to be recorded and distributed to everywhere. This podcast is also copyrighted. So, there’s very few situations anymore where something is a hundred percent just, someone used, you know, speaking in passing. And so, it also depends on where you want to use the quote. If you want to use the quote on a t-shirt, I think you’ve got to be a lot more careful. If you want to use the quote buried in a hundred-thousand-word book, then, you know, is anyone really going to care? Probably not. So, I always err on the side of caution.

Orna Ross: Yeah, that’s great. So, I think you have enough information to make up your mind, but if you want to send a follow-up question, then please do.

What’s the best way to include photos in a book?

Michael La Ronn: Okay. So, the next question is the title of the episode, and the person asking the question is putting together photo montages for their book, and they’re wanting to know what the best way to format images for their books are, so that they come out as high-quality as possible.

Orna Ross: Yeah, I’m going to give an answer that you probably don’t want to hear, and I would say that, for any complex visuals in a book, you’re best to hire help. Most authors are not visual and don’t even know the mistakes they’ve made when they try to do this kind of thing. I really highly recommend that you would use a designer for a more complex book like this. It’s absolutely fine to use the free software tools that we have as authors if you’re doing a straightforward text book, but once it gets into interesting visuals like this it’s best left to the experts, I would say.

What do you think, Michael?

Michael La Ronn: I agree. I think in terms of creating the images, I would rely on a professional to help you with it. As far as formatting those images for your book, it’s another animal, and it’s probably something you need help with. There’s certain programs out there, like Vellum, that will tell you what dimensions the photo needs to be in, certainly that’s important, but formatting images in a book is an art, it’s not always as easy as it seems. And so, you can get some bad reviews if you put images in a book that don’t look good or they’re grainy, that sort of thing.

So, you just want to be a little careful there, but just also you want to read up on specs. So, make sure you’re compressing your images before you put them into your book, because if you’re doing an eBook, like on Amazon, Amazon’s the only place that does this, but they charge file delivery fees. So, if you have an eBook, the bigger your eBook file size is, the more you will pay in delivery costs.

Whereas, with a print book, there are no delivery fees, but there’s still the quality issue.

Orna Ross: And quality cost, which is also something that a professional designer will be aware of. Oh, if you use that full page one, and if it’s full color, there are cost implications to the number of pages, and so on. It really is, as Michael says, it’s an art. And the fact that you have to ask the question almost shows that you don’t have the expertise to do it, because if you did, you’d be able to. And I think the other thing that, it’s again, slightly tangential but very relevant here is, you have to think about how you’re spending your time.

As a writer, you need to be writing more, and if you’re going to spend a lot of time trying to format, formatting is time consuming and fiddly, and as I said, quite aside from getting it wrong, to get it right could take you a very long time if you’re not experienced at it; is this really the best use of your time is something you’d have to ask yourself.

So, if you’re absolutely determined to do it, and you want to devote the time to doing it, perhaps because you’re always going to do pictures in your books, and you want to learn and take that skill, then do realize that it is a skill and go and learn it, go and learn how to do it, and how to do it properly. It’s certainly not something that we could tell you in a few minutes in this show.

How can I use the Amazon Associates program to maximise my indie author income?

Michael La Ronn: Yes. Okay. Just kidding, this is the final question. The question is, how do I maximize my income with the Amazon associates program?

Orna Ross: I’m not terribly familiar with the Amazon associates program. Have you familiarity with it?

Michael La Ronn: Yeah, the Amazon affiliate. Yeah, I’m pretty familiar with it. Yeah. I’ve used it for probably the last seven-eight years. For those who don’t know, the Amazon associates program is one of the first affiliate programs on the internet, it’s certainly one of the largest. It was started by Amazon as a way to increase their sales by having customers, or affiliates, recommend products.

And so, when you use a link, an Amazon affiliate link, and someone clicks on your link and they buy anything on Amazon, you receive a commission on anything they buy during a certain period, I don’t know if it’s 24 hours, or what, but you receive that commission.

Now for authors, the best way to increase, or to use Amazon associates links, is in from your website. So, for example, you’ve got your book page, the link that you use on Amazon, you would want to encode that with your affiliate link. So, that way, when someone clicks on that and buys your book through that link you get, not a 70% royalty, but you get a 74% royalty, technically, because you’ll receive a 4% commission on the book from Amazon associates.

So, the best way to improve your income is just to use those links regularly and often on your website. There are services such as Geniuslink, I like them a lot, where they will basically geocode your Amazon associates links. The weird thing about it is you have to sign up for Amazon associates in different countries.

So, naturally you would sign up for it in your home country, wherever you shop on Amazon. But then you also would sign up on Amazon UK, Amazon Spain, Amazon Italy, Canada. It’s kind of a pain, but then what Geniuslink will do is you can give one link, and it will geolocate. So, if a reader is located in Canada, it will take them to Canada Amazon. If they’re in France, it’ll take them to Amazon France.

And as ALLi, we’re a global organization, and so I think that makes a lot of sense, because you don’t want to give out an amazon.com link and then someone in the UK clicks it. It’s just not a good experience because it will take them to the US version of Amazon.

So, use your links often, use them on your website for sure, and use them whenever you have an opportunity to recommend something. So, I get a question a lot on what types of cameras I use for my YouTube channel, I give out an affiliate link. I created an Amazon wish list and it’s got all of my gear in it, so if you are interested in buying any of my gear, I give out a link where you can go get that, and one click, you can get all the gear that I have, and I get a commission. And the best part is that sometimes someone will click on one of your Amazon associates’ links, but they will not buy your book, they’ll go off and buy a big screen TV instead, and I think we can all agree that’s a great thing.

So, the more often you use them, the better off. Just a word of caution, I would not use them in your email marketing, because it is technically against the Amazon terms of service. But you can certainly send them to your website page where they can do it as well.

So, that’s what I would say. And I would say that the best way to maximize your income from this is to use a site like Geniuslink. There are other places as well that geo locate, I think, Books2Read also geo locates, and that’s free. You can also enter in all your Amazon affiliate codes there.

But sign up for as many Amazon affiliate accounts as you can, in each country, and then use the links as much as possible. You may not see something immediately, but you might see a sale two or three years from now, based on the work you did today, which I think is worth it.

Orna Ross: Fantastic. I think that’s a brilliant summary. And I will say just, if Amazon is central to your business model, this is definitely worth doing. If Amazon is not central to your business model, if you mainly sell your books online on your own website, you may want to, again, it’s back to what’s the best use of your time. You may want to think whether this 4% on not a lot of sales, Michael has a YouTube channel with a whole extra wing to it, you know, if you also have another aspect of sales on Amazon, I think all of this begins to become more worthwhile. But I’ve seen a lot of authors spending a lot of time worrying and getting to grips with Amazon associates, and essentially all they’re selling is their own book, and maybe they only have one or two books. So, think about where Amazon falls within your own business model, as to whether you want to include this or not.

In other words, if you’ve never heard about this, and you’re just hearing about it for the first time, don’t feel this as yet another thing you have to add to your to-do list. Work out first whether it’s worthwhile for you and your particular situation.

Michael La Ronn: Yes, and remember that Kobo and Google and Apple also have affiliate programs. So, this is something you can do too, and you can get overwhelmed. You can get overwhelmed.

SelfPubCon Update & Advice for NaNoWriMo Participants

Speaking of overwhelm, I want to throw in a plug. I know NaNoWriMo is coming up and I know there are a lot of people listening to this who are potentially going to participate in NaNoWriMo. I just wanted to let everybody know there is a bundle out there of books that you can certainly check out. It’s got a book from me and Joanna, podcasters from ALLi, in it, and it’s called the NaNoWriMo story bundle, and it’s 16 books from authors geared to help you improve your success rate at NaNoWriMo.

And if you’re interested, check it out at storybundle.com/nano, and I’ll just throw it out there. I know there’s a lot of people that could benefit from it, and there’s a lot of really good books in there.

Orna Ross: Okay, thank you, Michael. That’s great. And also, a plug for upcoming SelfPubCon, which is the online Self-Publishing Advice Conference, which runs on the 23rd of October this year.

Michael will be there, so will I, and lots and lots of other and really great presenters talking about the topic of writing craft. So, we’re usually all about publishing at ALLi, but this time out we’re really focusing in on the writing. Everything from using prompts to get yourself going to using artificial intelligence to actually write your books, and everything in between that you can possibly imagine.

Check it out on selfpublishingadviceconference.com. We’d love to see you there. The conference runs for three free days. It runs over 24 hours, 24 sessions over 24 hours, which are released one an hour, over that time period. But then all the sessions are there for you to tap into for three free days.

And ALLi members get a six-month pass, access pass, free of charge as part of their memberships. And you can buy a six-month pass, you can buy a lifetime pass, it’s all there at selfpublishingadviceconference.com.

Okay, so that is it from us for today. I hope you found the answers to the questions illuminating.

ALLi members, remember, you can send us a question anytime at [email protected], and we will answer your question.

If you would like to submit your question for public consideration for this session next month, then you can just click on the link that’s in the transcript on the podcast, which will appear on selfpublishingadvice.org on Friday.

Thank you, Michael, for being with us again today.

Michael La Ronn: Alright, thank you, Orna, and thank you everybody. Have a great day!

Orna Ross: And thank you everyone for listening. Until next time, happy writing and publishing. Bye-bye, now.

Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy has been a journalist for more than 30 years, and now amplifies the voices of independent author-publishers and works with authors as a developmental editor. Howard is also a freelance writer specializing in Jewish issues whose work appears regularly in Publishers Weekly, the Jewish Daily Forward, and Longreads.

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