I want to start out here by making a disclaimer: Everything said in this post is 100% cultivated from my own thoughts and experiences. I’m in no way trying to influence readers to become an affiliate of one of these over the other and I also am not attempting to persuade readers’ purchasing decisions (AKA, where they choose to shop for their books). Some people have a vastly different experiences.
Amazon Associates is a program that allows “influencers” to link products to themselves that allows them to receive recognition for the sell of that item. This means that if someone purchased a book that I had linked through my own Amazon Associates account, the site would, hypothetically, give me a commission for this sell.
Sounds great, right? And I’m sure that it is for many! But I personally had a few problems that left me frustrated with the program. I became an associate through Amazon at the end of January, I believe (I can’t remember an exact date). I stayed with them for nearly 6 months, and I was determined to get past the trial period, even though I was constantly wanting to give up on it altogether.
During my break from blogging, I attempted to log in to my Amazon Associates account to check on my stats and see if I’d had any purchases. My account was still active and I was able to log in, but after seeing yet another sale that I was not being commissioned for, I finally decided to ditch the program. It was an impulse decision, but I was committed to it. I searched through my account settings and found the “deactivate” button. I clicked it.
So, I’m no longer a part of the program, and while I don’t have to explain the reasons behind it, I’ve decided that I’m going to. Let me share some of my annoyance with Amazon & Amazon Affiliates over the last 6 months:
- First -and this is about Amazon, not the affiliate program- I was blocked by Amazon from reviewing any product on the entire site for the second time! I was never given a reason for this, but I did my own research and discovered that Amazon sometimes does this to reviewers who did not pay for the book that they review. I found this extremely strange, because not only have I been gifted books by independently published authors in exchange for an honest review, but I’ve also been a NetGalley reviewer for quite some time. Those of you who are familiar with NetGalley know that they encourage you to share your review on several different platforms (Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, etc.) once the publish date has approached. Some of the books I had reviewed were done so through NetGalley. So, because I honestly and fairly review books that I did not personally pay for, I was blocked from reviewing, and all reviews that I’ve ever written were taken down. Not only was this extremely unfair to me, who had reviewed many books that I had purchased with my own money, but it was also wildly unfair to the authors who were trying to get honest feedback and attempting to get a little buzz around their books. Everyone knows that Amazon advertises popular books, and independently publishing authors need to be able to get reviews to help their book grow. Many of these authors do so through book bloggers like me. I reached out to one of the authors who I had been working with for some time to let her know about the situation, and she expressed to me that this had happened to her already multiple times with other reviewers and that it was making it impossible for her to get the reviews she needed to see her book do well on the Amazon site. Additionally, not long after this happened, I learned about Amazon’s new Vine program, where ‘trusted’ reviewers are gifted (as in, for free!) products to -wait for it- give honest feedback on said product. I was quite honestly shocked at this. Amazon hinders so many independently publishing authors by blocking some of their reviewers, but they created a program that essentially does the exact same thing (but you’ll notice that very few independently published books have been apart of this program).
- I was really, really frustrated with Amazon after this, but I was already an affiliate when it happened to me the second time around, and I really wanted to try to make the program work. I know that all over the internet, affiliate links, codes and sponsorships are considered taboo and a lot of people think that influencers shouldn’t use them. However, content creators are taking a lot of time to produce the things we all read, watch, and see. I personally have invested countless hours into this blog and even a small amount of money (I own my domain name, I have personalized graphics, etc). Is it really so unreasonable to be a part of a program that gives you 5-10% of the sales that you help make happen? Not in my eyes. So, I was genuinely excited to be an Amazon Associate! I obviously knew that I wouldn’t be rolling in money from the commissions, but I would’ve been happy to even make just $100 throughout a year, which would’ve had me break even after buying my domain name. However, I started making a few sales here and there (surpassing the required 3 to stay in the program) and yet I was never given commission for any of them. I looked into it, thinking it must’ve been because it wasn’t approved products or something, but I couldn’t find any proof of that. Then, I had someone mention to me that they’d used my affiliate link to purchase a new laptop battery. Their purchase had been around $40, so I checked my account, expecting to see $3-$4 listed in my “earned commission” category. It wasn’t there. My stats did, however, show that the sell had been made and that it had been tracked to my link. It should’ve been an approved sale, especially through that specific seller, but Amazon for some reason deemed it not. This happened to me with every single sale I made through their program. I always linked approved items and sellers, but was never approved for commission when the time come. I’m not trying to say that I was scammed or anything like that, because I know that the program is legitimate and does pay their affiliates. I’m only saying that they make it very hard to make absolutely anything off of their program, and I no longer considered it worth the effort. And it does take effort on the part of the affiliate; My WordPress theme isn’t compatible with their banners, so I always had to use URL links and insert them into my posts. They very rarely made any type of deals or coupon codes available to me for books to share with my readers. I just got tired of being a part of something that was not working for me.
With all of this being said, I don’t want to dissociate entirely from Amazon- that’s not the point of this. I just am no long interested in being a part of their affiliate program. As I said before, I am not trying to deter anyone from using Amazon as a retailer or as their chosen affiliate link program. I’m simply sharing my own reasons for cutting ties with the program. I don’t like what I’ve seen of how Amazon has treated its employees, its writers, and its affiliates. I hope that this all makes sense.
Now on to the positive stuff! I am officially an affiliate through Book Depository! I had considered just dropping out of using affiliate link programs altogether after my experience with Amazon, but after a little research, I learned how great Book Depository is. They offer up to 50% off of their books and have free shipping worldwide. Many of my followers are international (outside the US) and it makes me so excited to share links with them that can offer them discounted books with free shipping.
I’m incredibly excited to be a part of this program and am hoping for a much better experience with it (since it is technically owned by Amazon, though run independently of the corporation).
If you’re unfamiliar with Book Depository, you can click the banner below to check them out (Disclaimer: It is linked through my affiliate account so any purchases made will earn me a small commission at no extra charge to you). They have some great deals on their books and also offer preorders.