Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary, 17 Barker Road, Lebanon, CT, 06249

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Majestic Diary

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, "The Ultimate Pet Duck Guidebook" & "The Ultimate Pet Goose Guidebook."

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 Hatchery.

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 guy...

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? Absolutely not.

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:

First, 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 personally viewed/read."

So I giggle to myself and reply: "You can always purchase them yourself." (Heaven forbid, right?)

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!


"Don't you mess with me and my babies."

 

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