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Oct 11, 2000
Case Study

Self-Published Book Grosses Over $750,000 in Sales Online with a Great Affiliate Program

SUMMARY: About three years ago, when Canadian Doctor Ken Evoy wrote his first book, Make Your Site Sell, he was completely unknown and he didn't have a deal with print publisher.Undaunted, Evoy decided to sell his book from his own Web site, and to set up an affiliate program to drive buyers to that site.Ever since then, his affiliate program has set the standard for Best Practices in affiliate programs across the Web, and it's been responsible for selling more than $750,000 worth of books. Tenagra recognized Evoy's efforts this year by naming him as one of the finalists for the...

Typically published business books net their authors between $5,000-$10,000. Even best-selling authors such as Seth Godin don't make all that much per copy from traditional publishers. That's why Godin and others are starting to try marketing self-published works online. But a little over two years ago when Canadian Doctor Ken Evoy wrote his first book, Make Your Site Sell, he didn't have fame or other people's online bookselling experiences to draw from. Evoy and his PR contact Matt Hockin told us how he managed anyway.


Evoy spent about eight months writing his book, loading it with highly practical and valuable information. Hockin says, "He sent me a PDF copy and I didn't want to read it. But then I was flabbergasted at how good it is." Evoy decided to publish in both PDF and hard copy format because as he says, "People want it *NOW.* Personally I'd buy both. The online version is a great reference book, but I can read the printed version in the bath."

Next he used every single sales technique he'd discovered during his research to develop a Web site. Hockin says, "It's a killer site that sells. It works. It triggers people to get excited to buy." The site had an unusually high visitor-to-buyer conversion rate, but Evoy wasn't satisfied. So, he invested almost $10,000 in a visitor survey to find out why non-buyers didn't bite. The results convinced him to add navigation tools such as a "five minute sales tour" so visitors who didn't want to read through long pages of sales copy could get the information they needed to make a purchase decision more quickly.

Enough of Evoy's customers expressed their satisfaction to him that he decided to launch an affiliate program in July 1999. Evoy took this program much further than most sites do. Instead of simply offering affiliates a hotlinked banner to add to their sites (like the Amazon banners you've seen on so many sites), Evoy gave his affiliates a whole range of sales tools, encouragement and ongoing education. New affiliates receive a 224 page book of tips on how to be successful, free newsletters, lifetime and two-tiered commissions, and a link tracker program so affiliates can track which of their efforts pulled orders most successfully.

In fact Evoy's affiliate program is so extraordinarily well conceived and managed that the editor of newsletter ranked this program as #1 of the all time Top 10 programs.


More than 40,000 copies of Make Your Site Sell have sold so far. 70% of customers paid $16.98 for the PDF version while 30% popped $29.98 for the hardcover. Evoy's site conversion rate is nearly 10% (which is exceptionally high.) So far 10,500 affiliates have signed up to get a 25-30% commission when recommending the book to their own friends and site visitors.

TECH: Evoy created his own program from scratch and paid for programming. His program is not currently for sale to individuals or publishers, although he might consider a substantial offer from an ASP someday. Three of the leadingaffiliate programs you can use online are CommissionJunction, and These also offer online merchants technology plus help spreading the word to potential affiliates.However, the charges involved can be high for a small publisher.Hockin suggests publishers on a budget try using low-cost software from which works well, although you'll have to handle marketing your program entirely yourself.

NOTES: Evoy tells his affiliates to obey the 80/20 rule -- that 80% of their sales come from 20% of their marketing efforts, so they should just concentrate on what works best. We asked him what his own 80/20 rule was for making his affiliate program so successful. Here's his reply:

" 1) Tools -- Writing our own affiliate software gave us the total flexibility to offer unique tools for affiliates.

2) Education -- 5 Pillar Report has been called by many marketing gurus as the best on the Net.

3) Structure of our program -- Has attracted a more serious breed of affiliate. One who wants to build equity, rather than short-term hit and miss approach.

4) Product quality -- affiliates LOVE to recommend great products that offer outstanding value, rather than be bribed (through a high commission into offering under-delivering product for an inflated price (which has that high commission built in)."

Evoy's now started publishing books for other selected online marketing authors. So far he's published three additional titles and promises to deliver many more in the future. Watch out Simon & Schuster!

To check out the Make Your Site Sell site for yourself, go to:

Affiliate Programs:

More info at

Editor's Note: Because we have to be careful about "church and state" we are not an affiliate of Evoy's. We asked Evoy's volunteer PR guy Matt Hockin for his own link so if any of you guys bought the book he'd get some benefit from having spent a bunch of time helping us out with this story.That URL again:
See Also:

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