Thursday, October 4, 2012

Separating the Wheat from the Spam

Spam - good to eat, not to read.Our email address has been snatched up by an email marketing company. No real surprise there. This is the Internet Age after all.

We don't mind having our site listed on indie book reviewer lists. Most of them are courteous to both author and reviewer. They list the reviewer's likes and dislikes and other submission guidelines, and even provide a link to the reviewer's site. This is the right way to go about it. They save the author time in their hunt for reviews and the reviewers from having to deal with books they're not interested in.

But that's not how this marketing company operates. Authors pay a fee to generate an email marketing campaign. Judging by the format of these emails, they fill out a form listing pertinent info about themselves and their book. Upon completion, it gets shot out to every book reviewer in their database, regardless of the reviewer's book preferences.

We're tired of this.

There's a reason why we have submission guidelines. There's a list of what we're not interested in and who's available and what they like to read. It's a waste of our time to have to go through these blind submissions, telling Joe Schmoe that his 101 Ways to Serve Lima Beans cookbook isn't what we want to read.

The other interesting trend to these spam submissions is the quality. There's a definitive lower level of quality to this group. As a sweeping generalization, I'm going to accuse the mass mailers of trying to do things on the cheap. Many (not all) don't utilize an editor or spend the extra time proofreading their own work. Acceptances are far lower for this group than for those who follow procedure. We still have to read the submission, track down some sample chapters on the Web, and, after confirming the material is third rate, send out a rejection letter. More time lost.

As a whole, authors who take the time to check us out and follow our submission guidelines have invested more time in their work. And it shows. Even if we reject them (we have to; there's just too many), 80% of the time quality is not an issue.

We could just ignore everyone who lacks "submission" in their subject line, but that would be rude, right?

Instead, filters are in place to weed out spam-like marketing campaigns. Submissions from people who blindly submit to us via these mass mailers are deleted unread. We're not completely heartless though. An auto-responder lets them know that their submission is "improperly formatted" and provides a link to our submission guidelines page.

I'm hoping that the lazy authors will see what they have to do and either improve the quality of their work or just go away.

I don't know if this post comes across as a rant, whining, or rational. Frankly, I don't care. We're up to 30 submissions a month again. There's only time to review a fraction of those books. The less time spent sifting through the slush to find something of quality we want to read, the better.

If you have the time and the desire, why not join us? Take on some of the load. It doesn't matter if it's just one book review per year (though the more the better). Help us shine a light on those indie authors who deserve some time in the spotlight.

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