How to write an Amazon link. (Please don't just copy and paste!)

Hi friends! When I build a new website I ask authors for their links. It's become clear to me that some authors are confused about what belongs in a link, and which parts are just trash we can and should throw away. So here goes:

Step One: The Messy Search Link

If I go to Amazon and search for The Martian, then click on that book, I'll end up with a link that looks like this:

In the first place, that's really long. And the link contains some information that Amazon is tacking on about how you found the page and when you searched. We don't want that! We want clean links because A) they're prettier and B) we don't want to contribute bad information to Amazon's search algorithms.

Step Two: Shorten To The End of the ASIN or ISBN

You can just trim until right after the publisher-assigned ISBN or (for an ebook at Amazon) the 10 digit "ASIN," which Amazon assigns. That leaves us with this, which is a perfectly serviceable link:

But this is like a game of limbo. We can go even lower. The title and author aren't necessary either. See?

Step Three: Take Your Cut

But now let's add something! Every author should have an Amazon affiliate code (unless she lives in one of a handful of states that disallows them, like Colorado.) The code looks like this: blurbisaverb-20. And if you add it to links you'll earn a small percentage (i.e. 6%) on purchases made at Amazon by those who follow your links and then buy something. Like this:

Now that's a link! It's lean and mean, containing no extraneous information, and earning us a little extra on the side. However... 

Step Four: Go global.

We all want to sell internationally, right? And this link delivers readers to Amazon's USA store. Some authors solve this problem by adding links on their sites, too. But I know a better way. For my own business I've recently begun using Genius Links for everything. (

Their site is a little intimidating, honestly. And I thought, "isn't this the same as bitly?" But once I understood how powerful these links are, I spent the time to switch. Here's why:

If you build an Amazon link on Genius links, it will automatically deliver the reader to her home country's Amazon store. And it will also automatically append your affiliate link. And--if you're inclined to open affiliate accounts in every country--it will add those automatically, too! It's pretty darn cool. 

Another plug for genius links: they're pretty great for iBooks links, too. iBooks links are longer and hairier than Amazon links, and genius stores them for me so I don't have to think about it.

Not everybody will want to use a paid site for linking. (Genius costs me about $10 a month.) But whatever you decide, go forth and make clean links that earn you affiliate income. And store them in a spreadsheet so you can copy/paste quickly. Life is to short to search your own books at all day.