Funding The Purple Crayon:
2nd Quarter, 2002

This is a report on the commissions paid by Amazon and other web sites to The Purple Crayon, to show what progress has been made towards making it self-supporting. My goal is $200 per month, or $600 per quarter. We are about halfway there.

Please note that I know only what has been sold, for what price, and with what resulting commission. I do not know the customers or anything about them.

Overview: Amazon sold 292 items, earning the site $235.63. Powells sold 2 books, earning the site $2.29. Barnes & Noble's web site sold 34 books, earning The Purple Crayon $17.24. Four copies of the ebook edition of my Complete Idiot's Guide sold from, for a commission of $4.59. The other sites linked to from the Bookstore page collected a total of $24.97 (these include, Alibris, and I joined BookSense, the American Bookseller's Association's online bookstore, but have received no reports from them. I assume that means no sales to date. For the quarter, the site earned almost $285, about the same as the previous quarter.

Of the Amazon sales, 44 items were bought immediately after clicking to Amazon, earning The Purple Crayon a 15% commission. The rest were bought later, meaning a 5% commission. As usual, most items bought at Amazon were books. These included 53 copies of my book and 24 copies of Children's Writers' and Illustrators' Market. People also bought eight non-book items, mostly music CDs. Amazon now pays me a 2.5 % commission on "Marketplace" sales; these are typically used books sold by third parties from the Amazon site. Twenty of the books sold were Marketplace items. I don't agree with the Author's Guild's stance on Amazon selling used books, incidentally, if only because I've always bought them and see them as a legitimate part of the market. However, I do think the commission on used books should be the same as on new books!

How things were bought: About a third of the items bought on Amazon were bought as a result of someone using the Amazon link on the Bookstores page, and all the other site's sales came from that page too. The rest came by following links to individual books, either on my Resource Guide page, the Award-winning Books page, or on other pages around the site. This includes books linked to directly and books bought later on the same visit. This means more people are using the Bookstore page, which is good. I'm not going to be able to tell as clearly about that in future, because I have put bookstore links on other pages.

What this means: This quarter would have been down from the previous one if I hadn't learned a few things, which I started to put into effect in June. Having links to books is not enough--someone has to have a reason to use the link, and may want to use that link in different ways. Some links on my site will stay primarily as informational links, for example. I don't think that anyone has bought any of the books linked to from my article on Writing Multicultural Children's Books, and that's fine. But certain pages, such as the primer on agents and the article on cover letters, are pages to which people come directly from a search engine. They want specific information, and if it's on that page or not, they leave after reading that page. So for those people I've put up small boxes pointing them to books that might have the information they want. Check those pages, and you'll see what I mean. I've also altered the "appeals" around my site directing people to the Bookstores page. They more explicitly tell people what that page is about, and so far this seems to mean fewer people going to that page, but more people clicking through to a store. Whether or not this will increase sales remains to be seen. See the top of the Articles page for an example.

July was well up from June, and so I'm hopeful we are finally getting over the $100/month level, meaning I can afford to spend more time on the site.

Next steps: I'm going to stand pat for now, and see how my new approach works, now that back-to-school time is in sight. I don't think I can do more to encourage people to use the bookstore links without altering the look of my site--putting bookstore logos on every page, for example. I don't want to do that, so I hope the current set-up works.

Please remember to come back to the Bookstore page on my site when you are doing online book shopping. In the long run, the more people who bookmark and then use that page, the larger the number of purchases that will be credited to the site. You can also promote it by linking to it from your site, or by linking to any other page or pages that interest you.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about any of this.

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