If you're a book blogger, you'll agree that it's important for an author to see our blogs and review policies before requesting a review. They make sure authors know they're contacting the right people for their book and aren't wasting their time, and they can get a rough idea of how to format their request. A while ago I wrote this blog post guiding authors on the do's and don't's of requesting reviews, but what I didn't consider is... what if our email addresses are being sold to authors without our knowledge or consent?
Because unfortunately, that is happening.
A few weeks ago I noticed someone on Twitter talking about a certain website which I've decided not to name, but I'm sure some of you will know exactly what website I'm talking about. It's a website clearly set up to help authors, but it's...how do I put this politely? It's not exactly written by an expert.
EDITED TO ADD: So many people asked what the website is called that I decided to name and shame. It's jaydpromo.com. Go, go, go :P
I clicked the link, and ended up on a website consisting of password-protected pages, but I didn't need to look at them; I'd seen the homepage and a preview of some of the password-protected pages, and that was enough.
The website in question is unprofessional. There are spelling and grammar mistakes everywhere, not to mention the design makes me want to stab my own eyes out. What else? It guarantees that authors paying for the 'service' will sell more than 1,000 books a month.
I'm pretty sure you can't guarantee something like that unless you're in publishing and can forecast future sales. But this website was set up by an indie author, and it completely depends on the market.
I was already rolling my eyes, but then I scrolled down... and saw that the owner of the website was selling a list of 1,200 email addresses. Email addresses of book bloggers, to be exact. And did we consent to this? Were any of us even asked? I don't think so. I certainly wasn't, but maybe others were. Yet there's a list of all of our email addresses - no blog link, blog name or genre preferences, might I add, just our full names and addresses - and the list is being sold to each author for $40.
"[sic] Here is the Book reviewer email list. The good thing about these book reviewers it that they Post reviews at Amazon, Goodreads and also on their Blogs. They are also Amazon Affiliates. [...] Contact these book reviewers and your book will get a lot of reviews on amazon and also it will reach to lot of readers. Every day give few minutes to contact them and you will see the rise in your book sale." - Quote from the website.
I can practically hear the website screaming, "I'm a scam! I'm full of crap!"
It's not even accurate. I'm not an Amazon affiliate and I don't post my reviews there or on Goodreads, so it's also giving authors false expectations.
Not only is this website SELLING OUR DETAILS, but they're teaching authors how not to do things. I mean, one of the pages on the website is, 'POST ON MULTIPLE FACEBOOK WALLS FOR FREE.' Translation: Be annoying and spam loads of people!
Ever since this website started, or ever since my email address was added without my permission, I've been inundated with review requests from this website, and a lot of the requests are rude and presumptuous, such as "Here is my book when you're ready," or "Review this and I'll email back tomorrow to see how you got on." There's also the fact that, because of this website stupidly just listing our email addresses and not linking to our blogs or review policies, none of these requests comply with my criteria. How many times do I have to say I can't read eBooks, that I don't read Erotica?
A couple of days ago I got a review request. It was friendly enough but I wasn't interested. The author had no idea how to use the BCC function, and instead dumped a ton of email addresses into the 'To' field. To be honest that didn't bother me because so many people make the same mistake these days, but I guess someone else complained because shortly after I got another email from her saying she was so sorry and then spilling the details of this website which I already knew about. I get that she was embarrassed - hell, I would be too - but it reminded me of a child getting caught red handed at school and blaming it all on his or her friends. It was just a bit odd.
So thanks to that website, I've stopped accepting books from indie authors unless I've worked with them before. I love them and I want to support them, I really do, but the requests have been getting worse and worse in the last year or so, and I've even had one call me a bitch for not replying to their request within a week.
It's not a new thing. Our details are sold every day; you only have to check your Junk folder or answer the phone when an unknown number flashes up asking if you want to get a loan or perhaps buy some new curtains to know that. But this is different, because it's bookish, and because the owner of the website doesn't see that what they're doing is wrong. This website is selling our email addresses without our knowledge or consent. It's scamming unsuspecting authors out of their hard-earned money, and it's teaching them bad practise. I thought you should all be aware.