Aug 022008
 

One of the things about being an author with a website is that you often use affiliate links to link directly to your book on the various bookstore websites. Affiliate links are links that (a) take a web surfer directly to your book page or book ordering page and (b) if the web surfer purchases the book through the link, the online bookstore or affiliate-link company pays you a tiny amount from the sale, in addition to the standard royalties.

Amazon has its own affiliate link system that is easy to understand and to set up. Chapters Indigo, on the other hand, uses Commission Junction to manage its affiliate links. CJ, a US company, actually provides and manages affiliate links for a whole host of companies, not just Indigo. Unlike Amazon’s system, I found the CJ system confusing and, at one point, it incomprehensibly cancelled my affiliate link shortly after I first set it up. And so it came as no surprise, even though unexpected, to learn that there was a class action lawsuit against it.

Today, I learnt that a class action lawsuit against CJ, covering 2003 to 2008, is about to be settled. I highly doubt I’ll receive a penny as my affiliate link didn’t seem to work. For the most part, I found that readers would prefer to take the long route round to my book page by Googling and then clicking until they found the order page rather than using the quick cut from my website, through one of the affiliate links, to the order page on the bookstore website. To complicate matters, neither Chapters nor CJ, indicate in any way whether people have ordered your book through them. Amazon, at least you can tell, by the ranking numbers — if they go down, someone has ordered a book; if they go up, no one is ordering. It’s not surprising then to me that the lawsuit was about commissions being stolen or diverted from Publishers and Advertisers. It makes you realise how much you trust these companies to report purchases accurately, even the bookstores themselves. The latter is particularly trust-based. The affiliates pay you monthly, but bookstore sales take a long time to reach you. Royalties are added up over 3 months and then take another 2 months to reach your bank account, by which point so much time has passed, how would you know — unless a reader told you directly — that they have omitted a sale or two (that actually happened to me in my first quarter of sales, and I caught it because a reader had told me how many books they’d bought, which didn’t appear in my sales statement)?

At the moment, I’m leaving the links up because they do provide information for people who wish to order my book, even if those same people don’t click on the darn things, but then would rather surf over to Amazon or Chapters and do a search on those websites for my book instead. Sigh. The travails of trying to sell a book.

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