If you’ve read the first post on How to Set Up Readerlinks , it’s now time to dig a little deeper. Let me introduce you to one of the most amazing features of Readerlinks and also one that a lot of authors struggle with in the beginning: core links.
(Edit: a few weeks after I wrote this post, RL changed the name to Automatic Link Creation Tool, so the screenshots will look a little different to you, but the concept is unchanged)
Core links are links that are automatically created by Readerlinks as soon as you add a new book. Let’s say you’re releasing a book a week from now, but the preorder is already up. Just add the book to Readerlinks, fill out the ASIN, add it to a series where relevant, and you’ll have a whole list of links automatically created by the system. Check back in the first post in this series on how to do this, if you’re unsure.
Now, you may wonder why you’d need more than one link? After all, they all lead to the same Amazon page, right? Not necessarily, for example if you also want to link to your paperback or an audio book, but even so, you’ll want these different links so you can see which one is clicked the most…and this which marketing tool is most effective.
I know, this sounds super abstract, so let’s make this very practical.
Setting Up Core Links
Go to “Sharing” in the main menu, the click on “Manage Core Links” at the bottom.
You’ll see this page…and may immediately be overwhelmed with all the options and the long list of stuff. No worries, I got you.
Let’s start by toggling the Help System so you can see the explanation.
What you need to grasp about core links, is that they have four key aspects:
- Where will you use this link: for example in your newsletter, in your Facebook group, on Instagram, etc.
- What service will it go to: for example Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, etc.
- What page will it land on: are you sending people to your ebook sales page, your audiobook page on Amazon, to Audible, etc.
- Do you want this specific link to have affiliate codes for Amazon
Let’s start with this: are you wide with your books or do you only sell through Amazon? If the latter (like me), you can delete all core links that aren’t for Amazon, like for Smashwords, Google Play, etc. The same is true for your audio books. Keep in mind that you can be in KDP Select (= Kindle Unlimited) for your books and be wide for your audio at the same time. Those two are not connected.
Anyway, let’s get rid of some of these links, at least for me. Right below the big orange button, it says “you can control the services listen in your pen name settings”. Let’s click on that.
Here, you can choose which services you want listed. That means that if you’re in KU now but may go wide later, you can turn these off now and later add them back again.
Check the ones you want to keep and set the ones you don’t need to “no”. Update your settings, then go back to the Manage Core Links page in the “Sharing” menu. If you’ve deleted some links (they’re not really deleted, but they won’t show for now), your list should be a lot shorter. Much better, right?
To show you how core links work, choose “Books” from the menu and now pick any of your books. You’ll see a number of tabs, so click on “Links”. You’ll see that same list of links pop up that you just saw on the core links page…with links specifically for this book. Now, mine looks all red and angry, but that’s because I haven’t put in all the book data yet. But the top two links work, to the ebook and to the review page on Amazon.
For the others, I’ll need to add the data on the “Book Details” tab of this same book. Once I’ve done that, these red warnings will go away. If your book is not available in hardback, like this book, or you don’t have an audio book, leave those blank. You’ll see the red warning but that’s fine. You won’t need those links anyway.
Okay, let’s summarize: core links are standard links that Readerlinks automatically generates for every book you add. The system has a standard list, which you cam adapt based on whether you are wide or in KU.
What Core Links Can Do For You
This is where it gets cool. Let’s say you want to track how each of the marketing tools you use do, how effective they are. You want to know of every place you post a link to your book how well it does, how many people click that link. To be able to do that, you need a different link for each place where you put it. they’ll all link to the same page, your book page on Amazon, but because they’re different links, Readerlinks can track the performance for you.
Before I show you how to set them up, let me give you an example. I’m gonna switch to my own account now, since I haven’t used this new Ballsy Boys account yet for links. Go to the Homepage of Readerlinks (“Home”), then click on the third tab. Once you’ve started using the links, this is where you’ll be able to track the performance of each link. Pay attention to the period and the setting for which books you want to see.
For example, below are the links for my Perfect Hands series over the last 30 days. I’ve selected to sort it by total clicks in the last column (click on the little arrow there), and as you can see, the back matter links did really well. These are the links to all my books I put in the back matter of each of my books, and as you can see, they’re quite effective. Another effective one for me is my own website, where I have a “My Books” section where I list all my books. Because I use different links for all the places I post links to these boos, I can see exactly which one was most effective.
Are you starting to see how cool this is? But you may have noticed that my links have very different names than that standard list we saw earlier. That’s because I’ve created my own core links, based on where I use them, for example:
- My website
- My newsletter
- A guest post on a blog
- The auto responder sequence I use when people sign up for my newsletter
- Facebook takeovers
- Facebook ads
- BookBub ads
and many more. This helps me to see how effective each of those media is. For example, Twitter has the reputation that it doesn’t sell books. That’s what everyone keeps saying, that it’s fun to hang out but it doesn’t sell books. But thanks to Readerlinks, I know that it does work for me. For example, in the last 30 days my links on Twitter to my latest release Snow Way Out were clicked 75 times. Not bad for a free medium, just saying.
How to Create Your Own Core Links
Once you get the hang of this, it’s magic, trust me. Okay, let’s head back to the Manage Core Links section under “Sharing”. Now click on the big orange button that says “Create Core Link”.
You’ll see this screen:
We’ll tackle how to put in the ID codes for your Amazon affiliate codes later (if you have these) because they’re not the most important thing. For now, let’s focus on setting up the core link. The first field is “Where are you putting this link”. This is how the link will show up on your “Links” tab for each book. Because you want to see where you used it, give it the name of where you’ll put it, eg Twitter, Instagram, Backmatter, etc. Next, choose which service it will go to, eg Amazon, Google Play, etc. This, choose the product page it should land on, eg ebook, paperback, etc. The last part about the keywords you can leave blank for now, we’ll get back to that later.
Below, choose whether or not you want to use affiliate codes on this link. If you don’t have these and never use them, don’t worry about it. If you do have Amazon affiliate codes (and I’ll show you later where to set these up), this is where to choose whether they should be on or not. Default is on in that case, but for some links, you’ll need to turn this off. Per Amazon’s Terms of service for affiliate program, you can only use affiliate links you use on a website you own and control, like your author website. That means that for anything else, and especially for your newsletter, you should turn off affiliate codes. I know some people use them anyway, but you risk losing your affiliate account and if you’re not careful., your author account as well. Not worth it. So if this link is for, say, your newsletter, toggle all the “default” ones to “none”. Here’s how I set one up for my co-author Kyleen to use in her newsletter:
When you’re done, hit “Add Core Link” and that’s it. Now head over to any of your books, click on the links tab, and you’ll see that for each of your books, that link has automatically been created. So with one set up, I have created a link for Kyleen to use in her newsletter for each of our joint books. Pretty nifty, right?
You’ll need to do this for all the links you’re gonna use, so make a list and then create them. But no worries, if you think of another one you need, say, next week, just add it. Once you have these set up, you can use a specific link every time you want to post a link to your book somewhere. They key is to be disciplined in how you use them, so you don’t use the wrong link. It won’t hurt your sales or anything, but it will muddy your analytics as to which media and platforms and channels work best for you.
Okay, have fun setting these up. Next time, we’ll talk about custom links and I’ll show you how to edit core links…and how not to.
Hit me up with any questions you have!