August 24, 2011
It all began when
I rec'd an email
from a guy with a bird website who wanted free review copies of,
Ultimate Pet Duck Guidebook" &
"The Ultimate Pet
For those of you
who don't know, I self-published these books because
publishers told me there was no audience. I've
proven them way wrong, but at this point, I like having
full control over their sale and content. And part
of the proceeds are directed to the sanctuary.
That being said...
when people contact me for freebies, I have to
explain that in self-publishing their are no
"freebies." I have to PAY for every single copy I
give away. These books are printed-to-order in full
color, with over 200 pages, so too many "freebies"
and I'm not making any profits for the ducks.
Each time I sell a
book on amazon.com, I make a dollar, which I then
donate to the sanctuary at the end of every month.
So if I'm going to pay to have two of my $34.99
books sent to this guy at no charge to him, he has
to prove to me that he can sell no less than 70
copies within the first 30 days. I need to quickly
recoup my investment and then go on to make even
more sales in order for our ducks and geese to get
their donations. Follow?
This is why I give
away VERY few copies. When I do send them out
gratis, they go to reviewers (to major magazines
like Backyard Poultry) or to companies
interested in selling them like Metzer Farms
Now for the
rest of the story...
So I email this
guy back. He already knows that the book was produced
via Createspace (he mentioned it in his original
email), which means he's already aware that it's
self-published, but I reiterate that point and let
him know that I give away VERY FEW copies to avoid negatively impacting profits and
taking away from the sanctuary. Then I go on to ask
what he plans to do with n/c review copies.
Will he be writing a review in a print/online
newsletter? What media plans does he have in mind to
get me back the money I put in upfront.
Just so you know,
I can already tell this guy doesn't have a media
plan. He just sounds like someone who happens to
have a bird website and who's looking for free
stuff. And I'm honestly thinking that once he reads
my response and recognizes that I have to pay for
his "free" copies and that it has a negative impact
on our rescued animals, he's going to find his own
moral fiber and and just go out and buy his own
books and I'll probably never hear from him again.
Oh no... Not this
He replies back that
he still wants two free review books so he can
"consider" adding them
to his list of recommended titles, while boasting that
his website got
over 350,000 hits last year.
First of all, even
big players like Backyard Poultry Magazine
guaranteed me that my books would actually make the
magazine if I sent along review copies. Why would I
send this nobody free books without even being
guaranteed a place on his list?
Secondly, with a
magazine I got a accurate circulation count along
with some valid stats. With this guy I get some
un-validated web hit nonsense. Even if it is true
(which I seriously doubt), only a complete idiot believes
that those are 350,000 valid hits. Each time
he visits his own site it counts as a stinking hit
for crying out loud. I get more emails from Viagra
some weeks than I do from duck owners--do those
count as web hits? Yes. But are they valid hits?
Just for the heck
of it, I decide to follow the link he provided to
the recommended reading page of his website, and no
lie... I end up on a web page where all the books
are listed in one LONG, scrolling list down the page with
ducks and geese WAY WAY WAY at the very bottom.
Not many people
are going to have the patience to go browsing through
his lengthy list of books--especially with no photos of
the actual book covers shown. Not only is it hard to
keep your eyes focused on where you are on the page
as it scrolls by, but it's also far to boring to
stick with. I mean, who's going to scan a list of
books title-by-title to find a helpful book in the
midst of all that black and white lettering. It
wasn't even in alphabetical order! I mean, even if
his wild 350,000 web hits figure was real,
what are the odds that even .5% of those visits
might result in an actual book sale for me? Not a
chance! Not on this unorganized, never-ending list.
And then I noticed
two major things:
I can tell by the hyperlinks that he's part of
the amazon.com referral program, which means if
anyone has the patience to scroll through this long,
long, LONG list of books and then actually click and purchase
one, he gets a percentage of the sale.
Second, he has a whole page of his
website dedicated to listing HIS entire at home
library, which he apparently is very fond of since he
goes so far as to note that it's
Not for Sale!
In light of these discoveries, it's easy to see that he
wants free copies for his own personal library and he
wants to list my books for sale on his recommended book
page in order to get part of the proceeds. It's a
win-win for him. On the other hand, it's a lose-lose for
me. I'd have to pay for the books and the odds of me
recovering my costs through sales via his poorly
designed webpage is highly, HIGHLY unlikely.
So my response to him is this:
"I think I would be more
inclined to send N/C copies of my books if there were
actual photos of the book covers included on your page.
I also worry about the "list" format. Ducks and geese
are pretty far, far, far... down the list and someone
might not scroll down that low to find them.
While I thank you for your
offer, in light of my spending budget, I'm going have to
pass on this one. I really only send out a couple of
freebies a year simply because they are not free for
me--and I volunteer 100% of my time to the sanctuary
these last few years (which means I don't have a salary
anymore). Honestly, the only n/c copies I've sent out
went to reviewers for magazines (like Backyard Poultry)
or to places that wanted to view them for resale.
I did notice that your
recommended books are all linked via the amazon.com
referral program and you get a portion of their sales
proceeds. I can only say they are both doing very well
on amazon, so it could be worth your while to go ahead
and link them up, but that's entirely your call."
This is my way of being gracious
while also letting him know that I'm no fool. I want him
to know that I'm fully aware of what he's trying to
pull. He wants free stuff and then he wants to make
money off of that free stuff.
You think that would be the end
of it, right? No... This guy just can't leave it at
that, so he emails back: "Well, people do buy books
of all sorts of fowl via my site to amazon, but you do
what you need to. I never list books that I haven't
So I giggle to myself and reply:
"You can always purchase them yourself." (Heaven
But he can't leave it at that
either, so he comes back again with: "Nope. I do that
whole website for basically gratis to the public. Have a
little support to pay for the server."
Wait a minute... didn't he just
say that he sells all sorts of books
through his website? And now it's suddenly a
complimentary gift to the public? Well... which is it?
Is he so successful at initiating book sales through his
website that it's a profit-making machine or is it a
gratis hobby? I don't know... it's hard to imagine that
all those links on his poorly designed webpage aren't
making him a fortune through amazon...
Okay. So in an effort to drive
home how greedy and selfish it is for him to be asking a
volunteer at an animal shelter to pay so that he can get
free books for his library, I close the conversation
with one final email: "I don't have a salary at all,
so I can't pay to give you free books."
And then, so I don't have to
listen to anymore of his self-important,
self-contradicting crap, I blocked out his email
address, which means that any further emails from him
will be automatically deleted and will result in a reply
back to him that says: "Auto Reply: Your message has
been Auto-Deleted / Please do not respond."
I swear. The scum I have to
scrape off the bottom of my sandals sometimes. There's
more of it in my inbox than in our pens! Wha ha ha!
If you're one of my friends and want to know who this
was email me and I'll be happy to tell you!
you mess with me and my babies."
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