I recently came across a VERY handy website for indie writers: SmartURL. Based in Boston, SmartURL allows users to redirect traffic from a single URL to multiple URLs based on parameters you set, such as the country of the user or the device they use.
For indie authors, the problem we have in our email marketing messages, Facebook posts, and website links is that we want to target a worldwide audience yet not have a plethora of unsightly links to all the retail sites that carry our books, and many anti-spam programs specifically target emails with more than two or three links. Yet Amazon alone, for example, have twelve sites that need to be linked to. Consequently, most authors link to the Amazon.com (U.S.) site and hope the consumer will figure it out from there, or we rely on Amazon’s default offer to reroute to the more appropriate Amazon site based on the user’s ISP.
Smart URL solves this problem by creating a single URL that redirects the user to the site you set based on their ISP. For example, for my latest book, The Point Between, I created a single Amazon URL that redirects to the twelve sites that Amazon sell from. Someone from a Canadian ISP is directed to the Amazon.ca site, while someone from the UK is sent to the Amazon.co.uk site. For those in countries not specified in my list, they are directed to the Amazon.com site. In my emails or on my Wattpad page I can then suggest buyers go to Amazon, Kobo, and B&N to buy my book; the single Amazon link is a smart URL, the Kobo is a normal URL (Kobo operate worldwide from a single site), and B&N has been set up in Smart URL to link to Nook sites in the States and the UK. (Click on the links and you will see this in action.)
You can be as detailed as you want in the way you redirect traffic. You can send a user from Belgium, for example, to the Amazon.fr (France) site since Amazon do not have a site in Belgium. New Zealanders can be sent to the Amazon Australia site, and so on.
You can also set different websites for different countries. For example, a single smart URL could send Americans to Amazon.com, Swedes to Apple’s iTunes, and Brits to Waterstones. This would work well if you have exclusive retailers in specific territories, or if you want to link to the most popular website in a specific territory.
One can also set the URL to be device specific. Those accessing from an iPhone could be sent to iTunes, someone with an Android phone might be sent to Google Play. However, I would advise against this option since all the major retailers have apps for the different devices: an iPhone user might still be buying Kindle books, not Apple books.
A few words on use: when you input the U.S. Amazon link, Smart URL will automatically populate most of the remaining twelves sites, which you can then keep or delete. However, Smart URL does so using the formula of, for example, www.amazon.com[book information] = www.amazon.ca[book information] for Canada. This formula is correct for several of the Amazon sites but not all. For the ebook of The Point Between, the U.S. site address is:
However, the Mexico site address is:
http://www.amazon.com.mx/Point-Between-Metaphysical-Mystery-English-ebook/dp/B016FKSPJQ (emphasis mine)
So make sure you check the links and correct if necessary.
The second note is that there is a bug in Smart URL that does not recognize Amazon.in for India; you will continually get an error message telling you the country is invalid. The only way I could get the system to accept the Amazon India site was to select “British Indian Ocean Territory,” which defeats the purpose. (I have sent Smart URL an email about this; hopefully the bug will be fixed soon.) [UPDATE 24 November: it’s a Firefox issue. When I switched to Chrome, India went in fine. I should also point out that Mexico was a problem in Firefox as well. Hopefully Smart URL will get those fixed for Firefox users.]