Sunday, August 28, 2011

Spamming Gone Too Far?

We’ve all had our share of spam over recent years and, for the most part, it doesn’t bother me much. Most of the spam emails I receive go directly into a separate folder and the contents quickly deleted. Emails that slip through the spam net are also dispatched with the click of a mouse.

With the rise in e-books and self-publishing, I’ve seen a marked increase in the number of spamming authors, not only in emails, but on social networking sites. Again, it’s usually not a big deal to me, as I truly understand an author’s desire to let people know about his or her book. Many times, a friend I do know will ask me to vote or comment on something. For me, this isn’t spam and I’m happy to help out when I can. Other times, a new friend I don’t really know will press the issue a bit. About three years ago, one young lady from the U.S. asked me to vote for her book in a competition, so I did. When she made the next round, she asked me to vote again and then again, and a fourth time--she made it to the semi-finals.

This week I received an email from a new “friend” I didn’t really know on a social networking site (not Facebook or Twitter) asking me to buy his book and review it so he could increase his amazon ranking. Really? I don’t even pay much attention to my own amazon rankings, let alone anyone else's.

Based on the way his message was worded, this author was sending his request to heaven knows how many others. This individual did not offer to reciprocate to his “friends”, and although his book was only ninety-nine cents, I’m still bothered by his tactic. That he wanted us to spend our money, and our time reading and reviewing his book, was too much to ask.

Advertising one’s book through blogs and social networking sites is fine, but sending out email requests to buy and review your book is not. I’m wondering what you all think of this strategy? Have you been asked by a virtual friend to purchase and review his book, and without any mention of reciprocation? I know of a number of authors who review one another’s books through mutual consent, but it can be a sticky situation. I’d appreciate any suggestions for handling this in the future. On this occasion, I simply hit the delete button, but was it enough?

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK,, Chapters/Indigo


James C. Wallace II said...

Usually, if I request a review from someone, I'll send them a pdf of the book for free as a courtesy. I've also sent out a few hard copies, but that's more a rarity than the norm. I've had other authors do the same with me, so I would assume that's more of a common practice than asking someone (usually strangers) to purchase a book for review. Early on, I did promote my books a bit more aggressively than some would have liked, but as I looked at it, if I didn't, who would? Those folks would label me a spammer, then months later, I'd see them do something similar, but when I pointed it out to them, suddenly, that wasn't the same thing!

Julie H. Ferguson said...

Before you ask an indiviual for something, you need to already have a relationship with that person. If not, don't ask!!

Cheryl Tardif said...

It definitely helps to have a relationship with an author before asking for a review, but it's not an absolute necessity. New writers have to start somewhere and most just don't have the connections that more established writers have.

Being asked for blurbs comes with the territory of being a published author. They always have the choice to say no. I've asked other writers whom I admire but have never connected with and they've given blurbs. And I've given blurbs to authors I've never met. Why? Because they were respectful with their query and I was interested in their work.

There's a difference between being bold and confident, and being a spammer and a nuisance. This guy you're describing, Debra, is the latter.

Writers should never cc others on an email query for a blurb/review unless everyone knows each other very well. Even then, send personal queries. It's more professional.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif
Publisher and Bestselling Author

Cheryl Tardif said...

Oh, and I forgot one important thing: writers should never ask strangers to purchase a book to review. That's tacky!

If someone buys your book and contacts you to tell you they liked it, you can then suggest they write a review and that you'd appreciate it. If you're giving away free review copies, you can also suggest they post reviews.

KT Wagner said...

Hi Debra.

What you describe is incredibly bad manners. It's surprising how many people are quite rude in their on-line communications and don't seem to realize it (or maybe they do).

I am fairly new to this but I think it would be better manners to offer of a review copy, period.


Melodie Campbell said...

Debra, I cannot tell you how many times complete strangers have emailed me their work-in-progress and asked me to give them 'honest criticism' in my role as GM of CWC. Yes, the work came 'free'! So of course my critique service will be free. sigh...
These are not members of CWC, I'm thankful to say.