How I’m Breaking the Amazon Associates Rules (accidentally).

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Oh Dang. Most book bloggers I know are probably breaking the rules for Amazon Associates… and completely on accident. I came across a good blog recently that mirrored some of my own discoveries. Like Amy Lynn Andrews who did some extra legwork and contacted Amazon to get additional information, I too stumbled across the potential of accidental violation by watching a video by crime author Mark Dawson.

Dawson had accidentally sent an email with an affiliate link and Amazon let him know that he was about to have his whole account blocked for an accidental gaffe which could have financially hurt him in a major way.

As a blogger, I’m quite certain I’ve been breaking the rules as well. Here’s how we can easily violate their TOS without even knowing:
Let’s say you publish a book review or talk about your book or any other product in a blog post and link to that item with an affiliate link. That is exactly how the system is supposed to work, so no violation because you didn’t email the link…it’s on a blogpost—exactly where Amazon likes to see it, right? Right?
It sounds like we did everything perfect, but still might have broken the rules (which I admit are draconian.) Anybody who subscribes to your blog might have the contents automatically sent to him or her resulting in an emailed affiliate link that breaks the rules and could possibly result in your account termination and a blacklisting by Amazon!

To avoid this we’ve got to make sure that we “truncate” our posts. It sounds like it’s difficult, but it’s not too awful. It does mean that book bloggers need to add one extra step before posting a blog: Use the “insert Read More tag” button before you add the affiliate link to make sure that readers only see this by visiting your actual blog rather than by clicking though an email message.

Here’s what that “insert Read More tag” looks like on the WordPress platform, circled in red:
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It’s pretty easy to overlook something like this, so always be on the lookout for ways to protect yourself from accidentally breaking the rules. I caught it early and so I’m fixing it asap… if you use affiliate tags in your posts you might want to do the same!

For more reading on the topic, check out Amy Lynn Andrews blog post on the subject.

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