I’m a member of the “Amazon Associates” affiliate program. If you click on the Abandoned Ship or Isle of Lucidity links from my website, I’ll make a few extra cents beyond what I’d earn if you found those items elsewhere.
Anyhow, this morning, I got an email notifying me that the terms and conditions had been updated:
I actually clicked on the link and glanced through the changes, but nothing immediately grabbed my attention.
But then I read through my morning RSS feeds and found a post by David Gaughran explaining what this change actually means. The most important new paragraph in the affiliate agreement is this:
This is a big deal.
Amazon has been pushing its “KDP Select” program hard among independent authors, and the two defining features of KDP Select are (1) your book will be added to the Open Kindle Lending Library, and (2) your book is eligible for five free promo days per 90-day period.
So on the one hand, Amazon wants authors to give away books for free. Right now, these KDP Select freebie promotions are the primary tool of independent authors trying to bring some public visibility to their otherwise neglected new books. Ostensibly, Amazon invented this promotional vehicle because free book promotions are good for authors and good for the Kindle store.
But there are pieces of the puzzle outside of Amazon’s control. An ever-growing collection of websites has sprung up over the past few years specifically to announce and promote books during their KDP Select freebie promo days. Authors submit their book information and promo schedules to these websites, while readers sign up for mailing lists to hear about all the new free books. More than a handful of successful new authors have built their audience primarily though the exposure they gained from these KDP Select freebie promos.
But the affiliate program is how these freebie announcement websites make their money. Whenever they link to a free Kindle book, they include their affiliate code in the hyperlink, and then they earn commissions — not on the free book itself, but on other purchases made by the free-book-downloaders within the next 24 hours. So with today’s announcement about the change to the affiliate program, Amazon is pulling the rug out from these websites and essentially telling them to diversify their promotional offerings. Starting now, they’ve got to put less focus on free books and more focus on paid content.
If Amazon is encouraging authors to join KDP Select — and trust me, they are; authors who haven’t enrolled in the program get pestered incessantly to participate in the Select program — then why does Amazon seem so hell-bent on discouraging affiliates from linking to the free promos?
How does Amazon want its authors to use their allocated free promo days?
I, for one, am a bit mystified. I just signed up for the KDP Select program and scheduled my first free promo for mid-March. I also just paid for a bunch of ads at these promotional websites… the same ones Amazon is kneecapping with this policy change.
So how will this affect me? I don’t know yet. But I’ll tell you about it when I learn more.