Friday, November 04, 2016

Don't use MY blog for your witless spam

An email landed in my inbox this morning reporting on some info that really chapped my fin:

Of course I immediately checked out the Inkitt website and it's a total crock of shit.

I'm not the only one who thinks so either.

What really burns me up though is they're mining the QueryShark archives for targets to send their spammy emails, and using the QS name in a loopy effort to sound legit.

Well, fuck that noise.

These guys are a disaster on toast, and if I could stop them I would.

Sufficient unto the day to just call them out here for what they are: misguided fools who prey upon writer's anxieties and who have no idea how publishing works.

Are we clear?


Kitty said...

Do NOT pissoff the QOTKU.

french sojourn said...

I received the same...but I could handle the truth. Scam spam.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Asshats! Feed them to the sharks.

My progress on NaNoWriMo yesterday was going no where so I pulled out my TBR stack. I just finished reading The Education of Dixie Dupree.

OMG! It is so freaking good. I can't even find the words. The voice is so authentic, so powerful. Can we just claim Donna as our own? I have seldom written a book review before on Amazon but this merits one. So, can you write one review and post it both on Amazon and GoodReads? I loved this book so much.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

"You want me on that wall, you NEED me on that wall."
Well yes we do.
The Queen looks good in her new favorite paint color, Olive Drab.

nightsmusic said...

I may have gotten an email from them, but I never check my spam folder and Gmail's is pretty good. However, I will say, it's coming up on the holidays so the spammers are crawling out of the woodwork as evidenced by all the spammy comments being left on yours and on other blogs. In fact, I got another spam comment from your blog yesterday or the day before. And I'm deleting at least 25 requests for membership every day off the little forum I run. I don't understand the mindset behind the whole spam 'business model' either. They can't possibly get much from it and yet, it goes on and on and on...

I found an article from almost two years ago talking about this company. They're fanfiction based, hoping to hit the next 50 Shades (which was horribly written IMO) so I would expect nothing less than the email above.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

OT, FINALLY got my copy of Donna's Dixie. (address change screw up)
I just started. OMG, I love it. The voice is amazing.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

"If I could stop them I could"

Maybe because I've been writing cyberpunk and playing Shadowrun, I'm just envisioning Madame Sharque as an anonymous employer, hiring a crack team of operatives to take out that dastardly Inkitt team once and for all, except under no circumstances can they know it came from her. There's a hacker, a driver, a gunner, and....well, nobody knows what that guy specializes in, but he's along on every job and seems helpful, anyway.

Theresa said...

That is very egregious spam. I hadn't realized such a thing was possible--trolling a blog for email addresses. Thank goodness for spam folders.

I have a long weekend of grading ahead but hope to work in some book proposal revisions. My agent weighed in with comments that need addressing and the chapter synopses need attention.

At least it's the fall back weekend, so I'll have an extra hour.

Happy weekend everyone.

DLM said...

I got it, yeah. The thing is, a bit of research showed, these people aren't actually jerks, they THINK they have a shiny new way to publish. Unfortunately, they don't understand publishing as it works currently (indie or agented), and so their blunders are extreme. Like loss of first rights extreme.

They DO have a tendency to show up in comments sections defending themselves politely, if not wisely.

The thing about "this old way of doing things did not bring ME success, so I'm going to decide it should work a new way - and SELL it!" is that you have to actually understand the existing process. And also sales and marketing. Which they also don't seem to understand very well. And, indeed, there are issues with the new way, too. Algorithms. Maybe not the best method to apply to a creative industry.

Sherry Howard said...

Well, I'm pissed off on your behalf! But, know what I'm excited about? Donna will tell you when she arrives today!

I've been in and out of comments lately, but I'm still reading you guys every day, so don't misbehave, and let me know when you get one of those multi-book deals JR talked about yesterday. That would perk most of you up for a while!

When life felt overwhelming, Mother Nature sent a tiny deer to greet me when I pulled in yesterday. She just posed for pictures from feet away, and smiled for the camera, then flicked that white tail and flashed away. I needed that!

DLM said...

2Ns, mine have not come yet (I got several copies) because I am cheap and counted on Amazon's usually-much-faster shipping. I should have bought local, but I think they'll be at my door today.

EMG, you could always copy/paste. :)

Wey emailed me as shown above, and I actually responded because I was bleary and more *confused* than offended. And he was nice, but dim. I said, "well, y'all don't do my genre, you're not explaining why you're reaching out to me, you smell of spam." He wad like, "Oh, I looked at your blog and thought you wrote fiction."

Lesson one if you want to be in publishing: fiction is not a genre. Sigh.

Inkitt began as (a) a computer scientist's algorithm and (b) a purveyor of fanfic. The one sale they tout is of curious provenance, but has appearances of legitimacy, so it gets touted a LOT (by Inkitt's personnel and by the author), which can make online research look like they're legit. And they really do seem to think they have good intentions.

But see previous comment re - if you want to fix a thing you THINK doesn't work, know how it works.

Abazaz and Gavin admit they were frustrated writers, which is a poor starting point. There seems to be little awareness of how annoying their "marketing" work is. They (Abazaz is a tech guy, remember) claim not to have known their unsubscribe function was not effective when their spamming issues were at an apex. I don't know whether their spamming issues have cleared up, but reports since this summer aren't thick on the ground, so it's possible. Their algorithm only counts people who register for an account with them. Who wants to do that??? Yeah, there ya go. Their Head of Growth (Marvin) doesn't appear to see how their attempts to grow come off to those they "woo". When they come into comments sections, they're invariably polite, BUT fail to respond to equally polite questioning on very very basic points on the legalities of publishing/rights and even how they proceed.

So, yeah, I don't want to burn the witches, but man are they wrongheaded. I mean, if you're not finding success in an existing industry, maybe learning about it is a better option than trying to reinvent it when you don't understand it in the first place.

And then I think about the fact they're mining upstanding citizens' fora and online communities, and ...

... I get a little more itchy to burn the witchy. Because THAT is not polite, and it's worse than wrongheaded, it's basically baiting the whole online world for a good public shaming. Something else they clearly don't seem to know about. Because I've never seen a community for online public shaming like the writing/publishing community.


Lisa Bodenheim said...

Was that the Sharque delicately declining to take a chomp out of an unworthy bite?

I love writing and I do want to have my story published someday. But I like to think I'm savvy enough (thank you so much for the education you give us here, O QOTKU), to not do anything stupid should I ever become desperate once I begin the query process. In Down Periscope (isn't that where this pic is from?), though the Lt. Commander desperately wanted to win the war games he did it through unconventional and fresh savvy.'s been awhile since I've seen that movie and I could use some more laughter this week.

CynthiaMc said...

Okay that explains why I got that "you've been added" to a group I never heard of by some guy I never heard of. My cousins are fond of doing that to me, but only blood relations get my forbearance (and those are private groups with other cousins). When I went to unsubscribe myself Adawhosis wasn't there and neither was I so hopefully he got poofed. Very rude and rude can get you death in the South.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I ready that linked article about Inkett and... Jiminy Christmas! Although I personally think it's better that they using the QueryShark archives than something else, because we all (hopefully) have learned to skeptical of too-easy paths to publishing, thanks to Janet!

Think of it this way. I'd rather have an adamant climate-change denier rant at a class of environmental science majors than an average group of people. It's far less likely anyone'll buy into it.

Kregger said...

I got mine.

And it wasn't in my spam folder. I guess I need to have a heart to heart with my hard drive.

The first thing I thought was, Wow! Somebody went back and read the archives?

I know, I know, we all say we did or have or will read the archives, but Jiminy Christmas, my entry goes back to 2009.

And embarrassingly or obviously, Mr. Wey didn't read my entry, because if he had, he wouldn't have sent me an invitation to publish.

I'm not a big fan of systems or contests that require authors to prostitute themselves for votes.

And no, I don't believe marketing and whoring are synonymous, but if done the wrong way...

I did check Inkitt on Absolute Write's Beware forum, and I didn't find any postings. The company is saying they got a writer a deal at Tor, but at what cost?

And I don't mean a monetary cost but in time and effort of all the writers scurrying and collecting acorns in the vast woodlands of writerville.

Have a good weekend,


Maggie Maxwell said...

They've been doing nothing but spamming since 2015. Maybe earlier. Somehow, despite years of being told to piss up a rope, they still haven't figured out that spamming every available avenue isn't a good way to attract positive attention.

You can follow their trail on the Absolute Write thread for them. It's astounding the lengths they'll go to to find new people to spam.

DLM said...

Kregger, it's here:

(Colin?) :)

Bethany makes a GREAT point. Of course, they're also pestering people randomly via Twitter, and PMing members somewhere I read (not AW, but I can't recall; I read a bunch about them when they emailed me).

What kills me here is, unless they've got their heads buried firmly in the dried clay, they have to know what their reputation is with anyone who understands a thing at all about publishing. I mean, they're commenting in response to people's complaints about them. So why are they not LEARNING from this? Why are they still doing junk like impertinently reaching out to individuals and REALLY crossing lines with blog owners like Janet?

It's all just so head/desk-y. And that's my three comments in any case (plus that last one was long - my apologies to our host!), so I must away. Happy weekend to all, and to all a happy weekend!

Ellen said...

Infuriating! I hope you're posting this on the Queryshark blog so that everyone who was spammed gets the message. Inkitt stinkitts.

Beth Carpenter said...

Nightmusic, I've wondered about this too. Does anyone open an email implying there's a problem with their credit card, find out someone is offering to refinance their mortgage, and actually apply for a mortgage with the company that tricked them? Hard to believe it ever works.

It would actually take a little work to spam the commenters on QS, but I can't imagine it actually yields much for them. I guess they get points for effort.

Elissa M said...

I got that email and deleted it without reading it. I know the steps I intend to take toward publishing. They don't include contacting anyone who spam emails me (or advertises "get published now!").

Julie Weathers said...

When I was doing the twitter contests a lot, I used to get a lot of offers to submit by various "indie" and small publishers. Some were legitimate. Some were not.

One gentleman, and I use the term loosely, was quite persistent. He wanted Far Rider. He could make my publishing dreams a reality. I guess Robert thought I didn't pay attention and notice when he started using a picture of himself when he was about twenty-five as opposed to his current sixty or so age and change the name of his publishing company.

At that point, I just got irritated and we had a come to Jesus meeting in 140 characters or less over the span of a couple of days. I would have let him go if he hadn't made the remark early on, "I guess you're one of those people who only care about holding a physical book in their hands regardless of whether it's good or not." He then went on to tout how a great editor like him is more important than having a physical book.

Wrong tack, Robert.

It's like when I won the "$10,000" race horse only to discover the little pickle was only worth about $500 and the promoter of the contest said I simply didn't know a good horse when I saw one. Oh, thou shouldst not impugn me like that.

Anyway, before it was said and done, a few agents got involved and agreed Robert the super editor was giving out some very erroneous advice to unsuspecting writers.

Writer beware. You need to be more aware of puffer fish than sharks.

John Davis Frain said...

That spammer might've been me, Julie. Sometimes I'm a little incoherent late at night, especially during Nano.

Oops, I'm not supposed to comment till I hit my word count. Back with my on-topic comment later...

Joseph S. said...

I don't know if the Inkitt folks ever emailed me. If they did, it got lost among the Writers Digest emails.

Adib Khorram said...

DLM's link:

This emailer's tactic kind of smacks of desperation. I hope no one falls for their shenanigans.

Adib Khorram said...

Forgot to mention, I have yet to receive any such spam either, which is kind of a shame because I take great satisfaction in deleting my spam with extreme prejudice.

abnormalalien said...

Got this email Wednesday night. Thankfully a whole lot of blog reading and a little common sense kept me from replying. I was planning to ask if this was a legit thing but hadn't had time yet.

Spent 30sec googling. What I saw, I didn't like. Bless the hubby's heart, he keeps trying to convince me. "Maybe it's a real thing just a *insert strange definition of indie* publisher who saw some of your writing.

Despite my love of positivity, I had to break it to him that this is about as legit as a squirrel on mini-water-skis. No way some talented, busy agent saw my comments on QS, looked me up, read my chapter excerpt on my blog, and decided I should become his new pet-project. Ha!

Panda in Chief said...

What an asshat! Should I feel disappointed and slighted that I did not receive this email?

Waiting for Donna to show up to share whatever news was eluded to earlier in the comments.

Back to work for me.

BJ Muntain said...

Unfortunately, there are writers who are taking Inkitt very seriously. I do not trust this company, and those writers really annoy me with their 'I need votes!' posts. But the writers all say'I've been trying for months to get noticed, and all I have to do with Inkitt is get people to vote on my novel.'

I don't like Inkitt. You may notice my comment on the post by Jim Hines that Janet linked to - they spam Twitter, too, like crazy. And they respond to these blog posts - I'd be surprised if they don't respond to this one - but they never say anything new. They pretend to answer questions, but the answers are all the same.

nightsmusic: The mindset behind the spam business model is simple: They use free resources to reach as many people as possible. If they get one response out of 1000, it's still profit. And yes, there are people who fall for these. Usually older, more naive people - the sort that fall for most scams.

However, Inkitt is more than spam. And they haven't gotten worse - they've been doing this for several months, at least. They target people on Twitter who have 'writer' or 'author' or some such in their bios. They target anyone they think they can get. And there are writers who believe in them - and that sticks in my craw more than their spam.

They've grown out of the fanfic, by the way. Now they're all about their contests. "If you win, we'll look for a traditional publisher for you. If we can't find one, we'll publish it ourselves." So far, I think they've actually managed to land someone a publishing deal at Tor. Which, unfortunately, gives them some credibility among some writers trying to get published.

Unknown said...

Your Sharkliness -

I don't blame you for being mad about some clown trying exploit budding writers such as myself. However, things are not always as they seem, especially in the shadowy world of spam. I have a manuscript about how a spam campaign contributes to an event that could plunge the US into the wrong war with the wrong enemy. If only I could find an agent to represent my wonderful work. :) (You already turned it down but maybe you'll change your mind.)

More seriously, here is a blog post for spotting phishy emails:

Janet, the email you called out may be a pitch to ensnare budding authors - or it could be a social engineering experiment from Russia to recruit drones into a botnet to attack a third party, or it could be an attempt to steal credit card numbers, or... All we know for sure is, the sender's intentions are not good.

- Greg Scott

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I can't wait for Donna to show up with her news. Lord, I can't stop thinking about her book. It is so powerful and for those reading it, have tissues prepared. Cried my damn eyes out. It's just beautifully and painfully rendered and deserves all possible accolades. It is the best book by far that I have read in a decade and I read a lot and love lots of books. They are all magic but this one hit me right in the gut.

Now I must tend to my word count in NaNo.

Barbara Etlin said...

Yup; ten emails went straight to my spam folder.

Kate Larkindale said...

I got that email too - it didn't go to spam either. I took great pleasure in writing back and telling him I have an agent and a plan for my publishing career that doesn't include his weird little site.

Irene Troy said...

Several members of my writers group received this e-mail and blasted me last night. I've been recommending Queryshark to new group members for several years and well...somehow they all got spammed. But I'm rather happy it happened in an odd way. Too many new(ish) writers fall for these scams because they desperately want to be published and don't want to go through the hard work necessary to make this happen. Inkit is hardly the first "company" to do this type thing and it's better folks learn early in their hoped for career that there are no fast roads to publishing success instead of being taken in by these scammers.

RachelErin said...

I just got mine - and by post he must mean comment. I've commented maybe twice on Query Shark?

I did cold emails when I freelanced, and this is not how it's done. It takes a lot of time analyzing their content, demonstrating knowledge of their industry, showing what value you have to offer. I got a really high response rate after a few weeks. (Hoping that skill translates into querying). Sure, plenty of people deleted the email, but it wasn't spam any more than a query is spam.

It's amazing to me that there can be so much information on how to market well (books, websites, etc) and people will stick in a rut that isn't working for them.

Enough worrying about their problems. It's time to worry about the problems of the people that only exist in my head. I have a love interest with overemphasized faults to make more lovable.

LynnRodz said...

I received my email from them yesterday and deleted it tout de suite and pronto.

The Noise In Space said...

Of all blogs to do this on, why on earth would you pick ones actively maintained by a top agent known for her sharkly ways? Who thought that was a good idea?

On a side note, it's really starting to depress me that we haven't had a real writing contest in a while. It's been, what, a month? Granted, Penguin's fantastic Season of Stories has been keeping me going (check it out if you haven't--I think you'll all really like it! Short stories throughout the week, every week!) but I miss reading all your flash fics. :(

Laina said...

Oh, look, I got the same exact word for word email. Just for funsies, I asked Marvin to name 3 specific things that interested him about my book.

For some reason, Marvin hasn't chosen to reply.

Probably because I've never actually submitted to Query Shark, just commented. Funny, that.

Kate Higgins said...

I got it too but it was in my spam and was promptly deleted. Yuck, I hate it when they act like they know you...makes me itchy.

roadkills-r-us said...

Jennifer R. Donohue, I want to read that story!

Speaking of story, I saw "Doctor Strangte" tonight. When I grow up, I hope I can write things even 1/10th as cool as Marvel has been doing with the movies. Who am I kidding? I want to do even better than Marvel, but at 1/10th I'd still feel pretty doggone good.

Reading Janet's blog here, I didn't think I had gotten an email from these folk. I felt kinda left out. But when I read the linked blog entry on them, I realized I had. I just laughed, shook my head, deleted and forgot it. Until now. Why did I read this right after seeing Doctor Strange? This Means Something. If Innitt shows up in my inbox again, I'm here to negotiate.

E.Maree said...

I received one of these "we saw your comment on Queryshark" e-mails too. So glad to see the QOTKU eviscerating these clowns. :D

Christine Tripp said...

I believe I can outdo you all!
I found Mavin's "greetings" in my spam folder and.... I'm an ILLUSTRATOR OF PIC BOOKS! What a maroon:)

"I saw one of your posts on Query Shark and thought I'd drop you a line. We currently have an open call for novel submissions. Are you still interested in getting your novel published?


Marvin Wey
Head of Growth |
Mobile: +49 157 83123908
Want to read a good book?
Sky Riders: The Rising Sun – A young girl rejected by her bloodline must rewrite an ancient prophesy and find her path. A gripping fantasy novel for all ages. Read Now"

Karen McCoy said...

Oh my dog, I got this email!! I am going to give him a swift "No, thank you" and shove him into the spam ether.

For the record, I asked him the following question to get a measure of his BS:

Hi Marvin,

Thanks for contacting me. A quick question. What is your average offer of an advance against royalties for first-time authors?


His response:

Hey Karen,

Thanks for your message. We don't offer an upfront advance. You can see the details of our publishing contract here:

To sum up:

50% of the royalties
A dedicated online marketing team with an initial budget of up to $6000
Cover Design
Are you familiar with our publishing approach?

Inkitt's goal is to make the publishing industry more fair and transparent. We aim to do this by putting the decision of what books get published into the readers' hands. This way, it's not just the opinion of one editor or agent that decides the fate of your novel.

The process looks like this:
You send us your full manuscript and we post a limited, 100 free copies of it up on for our users to read
While your readers enjoy your work, we will be busy behind the scenes analysing their reading behaviour
This data helps us to understand the best audience for your book. If your reader stats show that your book has bestseller potential, you get offered a publishing deal.

How does this sound to you?


Le ugh.

Donnaeve said...

How does it sound?

It sounds like the noise I make when I throw up, that's how it sounds.


AJ Blythe said...

Donna, I've been waiting for you to appear after Sherry's comment - but I guess you didn't read that? Donna will tell you when she arrives today in relation to why she's excited. We're all on tenterhooks here...

Donnaeve said...

Ooops...I was gone all day yesterday - and therefore I didn't read those comments until this morning...but with the contest going on, I figured I'd just share tomorrow if QOTKU does a pet thingy, or some other sort of Sunday thingy - when the contest closes down.

How's that?

Laina said...

I got basically the same reply as Karen

"Thanks for your reply. I have to admit that I haven't read your book, I've just seen that you blog and review books frequently. Also, you seem to have an engaged fan base which caught my eye. Congrats on that!

At Inkitt we are trying to make publishing more fair and transparent by putting the decision of what books get published directly into the readers' hands. This way, it's not just the opinion of one editor or agent that decides if your novel gets published or not. That's why it would not matter at all if I like your book, we let our readers decide :)"


Loulymar said...

It's a scene from "A Few Good Men" which has a phenomenal cast down to the "bit" players.

Loulymar said...

People are nieve and uneducated, but not if they follow, and adhere, to the advice/teaching on this blog). There will always be people who want instant fame and success without doing the hard work. It's why the lottery and casinos are so popular (I occasionally play and dream of hitting big; however, I only play what I can afford to lose). And I confess, as I read the comments I thought, "my writing isn't even good enough for spamers," and I sighed. [It's a pity-puddle-wallow sort of day--I have wonderful supportive and encouraging readers--who are mostly friends because the encouraging family members are not online)]. 😉 In reality, I have fun playing at writing (and reading the comments of this community). Maybe one day I'll get serious.

BJ Muntain said...

Hi Loulymar! The only reason I got their Twitter spam was because I have the word 'writer' in my bio. I haven't commented on Query Shark in years, I think, and I didn't receive the spam others received. Don't feel your writing isn't good enough for spammers. They've said right out that they don't care about the writing - they let others vote on the website. Your writing is good enough for you, and will someday be good enough to go beyond your group of readers. I'm sure it's good enough to get serious about, too, whenever you're ready.

Daal said...

you are an angel to warn us :)