Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Victoria Strauss -- Ways Not to Publicize Your Book: Spam Campaigns

Today I got yet another email promoting a book whose author or publisher has signed up with mass email marketer (read spammer) Media E-blast. I get these on a semi-regular basis, probably because I'm a book reviewer.

"E-marketing has been a long term goal for many companies, whether it be a religious organization, record companies, artists, national and independent, and small, medium or large businesses in the world today," says Media E-blast's About Us page. "Media E-blast LLC E-MARKETING solutions will not only help you make money but it will also get your name out there to a specific target market." Costs aren't listed on the site--presumably, they are tailored to the campaign--but perhaps the author on whose behalf I was blasted today took advantage of the "March Madness" sale--Reach 500,000 subscribers! Only $125 per blast!! Limit 3 per customer!!!

If I'm any indication (and I can't be unique), many of those subscribers are involuntary. Some target market, huh? Authors and small publishers--spam campaigns are not a good use of your publicity dollar.

Here's why you should not E-blast me (or use any other kind of mass email campaign, such as those offered by some self-publishing services).

- It pisses me off. I'm always happy to consider a request to review--but I want you to approach me personally. I want you to be at least somewhat familiar with my reviews, and to have a credible reason to think I might be interested in your book. I do NOT want to get an email that says "Dear Reviewer," or an E-blast that has no content other than a link I have to click, or a request for a review that's obviously inappropriate for the magazines I write for.

- I'm not your target market. I'm not any spammer's target market. My spam filters are pretty efficient--your E-blast will go straight into my Junk file. Unlike some people, I actually look at my Junk file, because sometimes Writer Beware documentation gets caught in there--but very probably, that's only reason I will ever know about your E-blast.

- I didn't give anyone permission to E-blast me. If you think that services like Eblast are subscription-based, think again--these services build their lists by harvesting email addresses off the Internet, just as other spammers do. As far as I'm concerned, there's no difference between your book E-blast and a penis enhancement spam.

- Did your E-blast campaign include me? Shit. Now I'm on a dozen other lists, and I'm getting E-blasts for beach rentals and consumer goods. Before, I was only irritated with you. Now, I hate you.

The E-blast ad that precipitated today's rant: Son of Hope by David Berkowitz. Yes--that David Berkowitz.

13 comments:

Brian said...

I wonder if the E-Blast folks like to get unsolicited emails similar to the ones they send out? I bet they don't even see them since there sent to the SPAM box.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. The Rev. Dr. Forbes seems pretty ambiguous as a blurber for old Son of Sam--oops, 'scuse me--Son of Hope's book. Don't know if I would have used that particular quote to enhance sales. Wonder if David is coming up for parol any time soon? she said sarcastically.

Nice to see the proceeds of his book will be distributed to his victims' families, but I'm a little nervous about the 5000 copies that will go into prison libraries. Maybe they should have entitled it: "How to Fake a Christian Conversion and Fool Everyone in 10 Easy Steps." It disturbs me, seriously, that someone paid the $125 to promote this disgusting miscarriage of justice. If he's really converted, great. Wonderful. But don't write a stupid book about it and then think people are going to run to buy it just because the victims' families get a "portion" of the proceeds. They should get every dime, not that they want his blood money. Besides, the whole business of spamming book reviewers shows a lack of credibility and intellect that is just--just astounding, and in wildly poor taste.

Nancy said...

Librarians don't like 'buy this book' SPAM either.

Victoria Strauss said...

I linked to Son of Hope because I was amused to be Eblasted by that particular book, not to start a discussion of David Berkowitz, books written by criminals, victims' rights, etc. I'm going to be deleting any further comments in that vein.

bookfraud said...

this was a great post on marketing, but all i can think of: a serial killer can get his book published, and i can't?

e-blast = e-vil.

screenwriterinla said...

Hi Victoria,

Love your blog!

But I see where you comment on screenwriting from time to time and I'm wondering (after doing a bit of Imdb searching) what makes you an expert on what we should 'be wary' of as it pertains to the movie business?

It's a bit like the blind leading the blind, yes - no?

Anonymous said...

screenwriterinla:

No, it's the professional writer and industry watchdog talking about red flags she sees in contracts and other language.

There's no "blindness" involved, unless someone's choosing willful blindness to Victoria's experience and common sense.

Anonymous said...

would love for V to actually answer this question

Victoria Strauss said...

So, Screenwriterinla, you "love" the blog, but are calling me out because you feel that in some areas, I may be talking out of my ass?

Okay.

No, I don't have a background in script writing or film. That's why I generally confine my comments about this market to agents and contests, where the warning signs are pretty much the same no matter what market you're in. Script agents don't charge upfront fees any more than book agents do, and a script contest conducted by an anonymous group is as deserving of caution as a book or short story contest where you can find out nothing about the sponsors.

Also, while I may not have experience in the movie biz, I know people who do. If I'm asked a question I don't feel competent to answer, I consult them. For instance, I recently got a question about the legitimacy of a filmmaking course. I didn't feel confident of my ability to evaluate the course, so I referred the questioner to a friend who has substantial film making experience. My friend was able to provide a helpful answer.

If this is a genuine question, please know that I am acutely conscious of the importance of providing reliable information to the readers of this blog and the writers who email me with questions. Where I don't know something, I research it--or simply say that I don't know. I'm confident enough of the expertise I do possess not to need to puff myself up by pretending to expertise I don't have.

If this is just a provocation, nothing I say will be satisfactory. So I'll stop here.

screenwriterinla said...

If we don't question 'leadership' where would we be? Fantastic answer! Thank you. And I do LOVE the blog.

Victoria Strauss said...

Question everything! Thanks.

Brenda Jeanne Wyche said...

WOW! I was considering initiating an e-blast service. But after reading this, I see it makes a whole lotta sense NOT to do that. Thank you. :)

thanate said...

Fascinating. Anytime I get an unsolicited e-mail with no content but a link in it, I assume it's malware and delete it immediately.