Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Blogger Email Addresses Are Being Sold Without Our Consent


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.

27 comments:

  1. That is insane! I mean the nerve it takes to SELL information such as this and to give the authors, who are buying the said list in question, false expectations just *shakes my head* Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I've wondered why there's been an increase in really bad (and presumptuous) pitches from authors I've never heard of pushing books that don't fit into any genre that I read.

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  3. Wow that is TOO crazy! I've never heard of such a website, but hopefully it gets shutdown b/c that's just unbelievable.

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  4. Wow, this is so crazy to me. I cannot believe that they are SELLING that many email addresses to authors without bothering to ask the bloggers if that might be okay. I'm not sure how anyone ever thinks that is an okay thing to do. Wow, some people are shocking. I don't know the site you're talking about, but hopefully I'll be able to continue to avoid it! Thanks for the information!

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  5. That person is also breaking the law. There are rules around mailing lists and selling contacts, and this breaks a lot of them.

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    1. I hadn't realised that! That makes it even worse...

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  6. ... I HAVE NO WORDS. But awesome post. ^_^

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  7. I don't know exactly which site this one is as I try to completely avoid review requests after some bad experience I had in the past, but if they are doing what they do there's a good chance they can be shut down. Contacting their web host/blogging provider/domain registrar (if they have a domain name) would be the first step to do. What they are doing breaks the law.

    I appreciate you blogging about this, Amber. Spreading awareness it's the first step in the right direction. Thank you!

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  8. This is the first time I've heard about this and it sucks. I hate it that people have no consideration for others and don't respect people and end up causing trouble like this! Great post, Amber, and thanks for bringing it to all of our attention! <3

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  9. This is really sad. I love the bookish community and had higher expectations. Thank you for exposing all these problems. Hopefully we can stop this from happening.

    Amelia @ YA Bookologists (ya-bookologists.blogspot.com)

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  10. Oh, no ): I'm pretty sure I know what website you're talking about, as they followed me on Twitter and I remember seeing all of the offers (and grammar errors). I can't believe they'd sell blogger's email addresses like this, that's so awful and disrespectful. Come to think of it, since they followed me on Twitter I've been regularly getting the odd indie author review request in my mailbox, which is strange because I never really get indie requests anyway. I'm definitely going to go check through my spam folder now and se eif I can find anything that might link to them :L Sucky people.
    Well written post, though, Amber!<3
    Gee:)

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  11. Back in May, I was gifted the same book from Amazon FOUR times by an author who only goes by "Pandora". I never asked for this book, and the author has never bothered to email me or visit my blog. I was curious and checked out the book - not even the slightest bit interesting to me. The message is the exact same every time, too: "You read Pearl Lover, almost two years ago, and you wrote a review. You might enjoy this one, too." No, just no. I have not accepted the book and won't do it. I don't know if this person affiliates him/herself with a website like that, but it seems like the sort of thing a scam artist would suggest an author to do.

    Thanks for the heads up - I've never thought about this before. Is there a way we can find out if our email addresses are on the website?

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  12. Thanks for bringing this to our attention - I hadn't known that this was happening. The sad thing is that there are a lot of very talented indie authors out there who deserve the support of book bloggers, hopefully they won't suffer too much for those going about it completely wrong.

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  13. SO THAT'S IT. I've been getting loads of requests lately telling me 'they found my email address on a book blogger list.' And I have been wondering if I ever put my name on any list, but I guess this is what they are talking about..

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  14. I just found out it is illegal to sell lists of email addresses unless the owners of the addresses have "opted in". I am still working on finding out how to report him. Go to the link and click on his Twitter button, he is also selling Twitter acount lists of book bloggers. I just tweeted and told hin what he is doing is illegal. Everyone needs to tweet him.

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  15. I've been inundated with actual spam in the last few days, over 70 emails now in the past half an hour but all from random accounts. Weight loss, enlarging the penis I don't actually have, AND authors... So if he's selling to authors, clearly he'll sell to anyone who wants a mailing list I suspect. Once these authors have our email addresses, who's to say that they aren't selling them on as well. I hope somewhere there's an option to report him, or worse. Bloody creep.

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  16. Wow, this is absolutely terrible! Thank you so much for sharing this, and for posting the website so that everyone is aware and we can look into reporting them.

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  17. I've been getting those kinds of requests, and I'm not even a reviewer. And when I inform them of that, I get abuse. Seriously, this guy is making it a nightmare.

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  18. Might be worth contacting Writer Beware/Victoria Strauss about this.

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  19. Yikes! This is horrible and this is the first time that I've heard about this. While I'm glad that my email hasn't been a part of this, I can't imagine how it feels to be the recipients.

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  20. You can also report spam websites to Google. I just reported Jaydpromo as webspam.

    Go here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/spamreportform?hl=en

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  21. Crap! Sorry if this posted twice, my laptop had a seizure.
    I am an indie writer and received his email wanting me to sign up. Fortunately, I am one of the rare people who are suspicious about everything, so I did a search on him. That's how I found this blog. I am so sorry you are all having to go through this. And here's something to make you feel even more special...he is having a sale for $19.99!!! Be prepared for email explosions.

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  22. That's just insane! Now I know why the hell I got so many review requests recently even though their genre is far from the genres I'm looking for. This needs to stop. -__-

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