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SPQ 041: Can You Use Affiliate Links within Kindle Books?

Written by Steve Scott on February 3, 2015. Listen to SPQ: iTunes | Stitcher | RSS Feed
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The Question…

Tyler asks via email:

“Within Kindle books, can you use Amazon affiliate links to link to other products or books? And can you link out to other affiliate products?”

Biggest Takeaway…

The Answer…

Affiliate marketing is a great way to generate income online. You recommend a service or tool, and if people go through your link and buy it, you get a commission. In a way, you act like a salesperson for other companies. Steve was very successful with affiliate marketing from 2006 to 2014. Even though he sold his last major affiliate marketing site in 2014, he still dabbles in it from time to time.

Affiliate marketing is also a good way to supplement your income as a self-publisher. One of the best ways to supplement your income is with the Amazon Associates program. If you sign up for the program, you can promote any product on Amazon and earn a commission when someone buys a product using your link. Unfortunately, Amazon Associates is not available to people in all states. Residents of Colorado, Arkansas, Maine, and Vermont cannot participate, for example.

Amazon has many different programs and units, from the Kindle Direct Publishing platform to the Associates program. What is okay for one program may not be okay for another program. Adding affiliate links violates the Amazon Associates terms of service, but as far as Steve knows, it does not violate the KDP terms of service.

Amazon Associates has an operating agreement with all the rules. Rule 6 of the operating agreement says the following:

“You will not engage in any promotional, marketing, or other advertising activities on behalf of us or our affiliates, or in connection with the Amazon Site or the Program, that are not expressly permitted under the Operating Agreement.  For example, you will not engage in any promotional, marketing, or other advertising activities in any offline manner, including by using any of our or our affiliates’ trademarks or logos (including any Amazon Mark), any Content, or any Special Link in connection with an offline promotion or in any other offline manner (e.g., in any printed material, mailing, SMS, MMS, email or attachment to email, or other document, or any oral solicitation).”

If you read between the lines, the phrase “printed material” includes ebooks. There are a lot of debates about this online. Kindle Direct Publishing does not forbid the use of outside affiliate links, however.

Steve used to use a lot of affiliate links in his books, but he no longer does that. He wants to give readers an excellent experience, and he doesn’t want anyone to think he’s only writing a book to make a quick buck with affiliate marketing.

If you want to use Amazon Associates, there is a work-around. Steve will be doing this with one of his co-authors, Barry Davenport. On his blog, they will create specialized reviews of different product categories. If you don’t know how to start a blog, visit the SPQ Resources page. Steve has also used this technique on Develop Good Habits.

All you need to do is write a review on your blog and then link to your blog post from your ebook. You just can’t use your Amazon affiliate links directly in your books. When you read Amazon’s rules, it makes it sound like you can’t promote their products anywhere. They want to prevent scammers from hurting the program, but it also hurts authors and entrepreneurs.

Resources and Links

SPQ Resources: Learn how to set up a blog and start your self-publishing journey

  • Henry Bowersmith

    Hi there,

    Just a quick question, I am writing a new book on a particular investing topic and I am thinking about linking out to some great investing courses with affiliate links. They are obviously not Amazon Associate links so I don’t need to worry about that, but can you link out with general affiliate links if there are only a few in say the back of the book now in 2017?

    Thanks for your help.