Christian Speculative Fiction discussion

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Spam on Goodreads

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message 1: by Steve (new)

Steve Pillinger | 517 comments Mod
Am I the only one, or have others also started getting a lot of what looks like spam via Goodreads?

I keep getting notices about free books, like the following:

"Jovan would like to be your friend on Goodreads!
hi Steve Pillinger,you can download the book 'Sansom, C. J. by Das Buch des Teufels' for Free at http://ebookhunter.ch/goodreads_545b7... ebookhunter.ch has become the Best Website To Download Free EBooks in 2018"

I've also had a whole lot of requests to review my book from people I've never heard of. They want me to send them a review copy. Have others had that?

These somehow don't look like good-hearted individuals wanting to give reviews as a public service! But I can't work out what their game is. I wrote to one who gave me his email: he never replied to the email, but a few days later the same "Ask the author" question appeared on my author page—asking for a review copy of my book. What does he want with it? To publish under someone else's name??? Just doesn't make sense…

Perhaps I'm being overly suspicious. I'd be interested to hear from anyone else who's had the same or similar approaches.


message 2: by Lara (last edited May 17, 2018 01:46PM) (new)

Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
I haven't had this happen to me yet on GoodReads. I do know that GoodReads used to offer a free giveaway book service to authors to promote their new novels, but after Christmas, they started charging $150 to set up a giveaway. This has reduced free books by a lot. It would not surprise me if people are trying to get around this by seeking out free books from various authors and also to seek out reviewers. Some of the people I have encountered on Facebook can be really aggressive about getting or giving reviews. I sometimes get requests on Facebook from random people. If they don't reply to my questions, then I don't take them seriously.


message 3: by Steve (new)

Steve Pillinger | 517 comments Mod
Lara wrote: "…This has reduced free books by a lot. It would not surprise me if people are trying to get around this by seeking out free books from various authors and also to seek out reviewers..."

Thanks for those thoughts, Lara. But then, two questions: (1) Why do those advertising free books begin by saying they want to be my friend? I sense a catch, but I don't know what it is.

And (2), I could understand if people were trying to get me to review their books; but it's the other way round. Or do you think this is a sneaky way of getting a reciprocal review: OK, I've reviewed your book and given you a 5—now you must do the same for me??

But I'm glad to see your last statement. I replied to the one guy I'd sent a previous email to, and who then put another request on my author page, saying that if he couldn’t be bothered to reply to my email, then I wasn't interested in sending him a review copy of my book.


message 4: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
This is just a guess, but on both Facebook and Twitter, the authors there expect everything to be reciprocal. I like your page; you like mine. I follow your blog, and you follow mine. They may think that having lots of friends on Grammarly matters like it does on Twitter.

They do seem to think on Facebook that they can exchange books and both do reviews. I see that a lot. I think this is part of the reason both GoodReads and Amazon have been trying to make it harder to do that. Some books get a lot of good reviews that they don't deserve. I've read them!

Again, I am guessing, but I can't image how they could steal a book that is already published. Lots of laws and online algorithms would catch that. I use Grammarly to help my spelling, and it catches plagiarism. I am sure that a lot of ebook publishers use similar programs. I was once a Graphic Designer at an academic publisher for textbooks, and I can promise you that plagiarism laws are reinforced in the US. I have personally seen people and companies fined a lot of money for breaking those laws.

Now, if someone wanted to steal a book and publish it in another country, they won't make much money, but could possibly get away with it. I personally don't worry too much about someone stealing my book because of what I know of the publishing industry. I think the main issue here is dealing with odd people who want free books so they don't have to pay for it.


message 5: by Steve (new)

Steve Pillinger | 517 comments Mod
OK, that helps to put it in perspective, thanks Lara.

My wild suggestion about publishing the book elsewhere was just that—a wild suggestion, because I couldn’t think of any other reason! Looking for a reciprocal review makes a lot more sense. But I was interested to hear what you said about all the checks that are in place in the publishing industry to catch plagiarism.

Well, forewarned is forearmed. I don't how these guys have managed to latch on to me, but I'm still being flooded by these requests. If I ignore them, maybe they'll go away—can but hope! Thanks for your help in understanding what's going on.


message 6: by Lara (new)

Lara Lee | 507 comments Mod
Steve wrote: "OK, that helps to put it in perspective, thanks Lara.

My wild suggestion about publishing the book elsewhere was just that—a wild suggestion, because I couldn’t think of any other reason! Looking ..."


I hope I didn't come across too strong. I had assumed it was a wild suggestion, and I had just latched on as a worst case scenario since nothing else could be at stake, except peace and quiet.

I do think this discussion will be useful for others who browse our group since I do meet a lot of very fearful writers. I once had a guy want me to sign a disclosure just to talk about doing the graphic design work on his creation. I also have seen a Facebook group of about 500 go into a nearly riotous frenzy over a misunderstanding about the security of their information. Lots of people are afraid that their work will get stolen, so I am happy to have this up for people to see, even if it isn't completely relevant or necessary to the current situation.

A thought just hit me. I was just wondering if the spammers are targeting you because you lead our review circle? It would be interesting if anyone else in our group is dealing with this. Maybe you can post something on your author's page that says you only do reviews in the formal setting of the GoodReads groups. God bless and I hope the solicitors leave you alone soon.


message 7: by Steve (new)

Steve Pillinger | 517 comments Mod
That's a thought. I could ask on the review group thread.

For myself, I replied rather tersely to the guy who posted two identical 'Questions for the Author'. I hope that may dissuade others. He's the only one who's done it that way—the others have found my email somewhere. Can't think how—that's not something I've shared publicly in the review group or elsewhere…

Anyway, I'll hang in there and maybe it'll ease over time!


message 8: by Justin (new)

Justin Coogle | 91 comments Yeah I just got a request from a Doug today on my author's questions. Definitely looks pretty sketch. A telltale sign it is spam is when they use lots of generic terms. He said "I'd like to review your most recent novel". Well I only really have 1, and why didn't he say it's name?

Spammers like this typically send our requests in waves before they get banned. That's why we're likely seeing it. Just ignore it.


message 9: by Steve (new)

Steve Pillinger | 517 comments Mod
Exactly my conclusion, Justin! You're right about the telltale signs: they also talk about my "latest novel" when I only have one. It also occurred to me that to help get them banned, it might be good to 'flag' such posts on GR. Doesn't help with those sending me direct emails, but it might draw the admin's attention to the ones on GR.


message 10: by M.H. (new)

M.H. Elrich (mhelrichbooks) | 77 comments I haven't gotten a request yet, but I also don't have an author page (yet). That does seem strange that people would spam you that way, but spammers are sneaky. I used to get "comments" on my website that would say generic things like "I really like your website, would like to know more information!" or "I love your writing, it is so good!" etc. I have comment approval for this reason alone. What I don't understand is how it benefits them unless they take the book and sell it ? I don't get the benefit of the website commenting either....


message 11: by Steve (new)

Steve Pillinger | 517 comments Mod
M.H. wrote: "What I don't understand is how it benefits them unless they take the book and sell it ? I don't get the benefit of the website commenting either..."

Well, Lara pointed out earlier in this thread how difficult it is nowadays to plagiarise a book, so I doubt if that's the aim. Also, my book is not exactly a best-seller! All I can think is that these bogus requests lead to something else, and when you send them your book, or click on the link they send, you lay yourself open to mountains of more spam.

Anyway, I'm sure the safest policy is just to ignore them. I did flag a couple of fake friend requests for Goodreads admin to check out. I don't know if that will do any good.


message 12: by M.H. (new)

M.H. Elrich (mhelrichbooks) | 77 comments That sounds like the best policy!


message 13: by Janelle (new)

Janelle (janelle5) I’m getting fake friend requests almost daily now. And I’ve heard of other people getting them too. The requests are repetitive and targeted so I hope Goodreads can do something about them.


message 14: by Steve (new)

Steve Pillinger | 517 comments Mod
Yes, mine have ramped up quite noticeably. 6 just this morning! Maybe they noticed that comment about flagging them and are jumping in before they get banned! Can but hope…


message 15: by Ann (new)

Ann | 50 comments I have gotten a couple of friend requests from people I don't know, have no friends in common. The first one I checked out and there were no friends for this individual and no books. The second one had started following me, but she had friends, and a few lists of books. I ignored it anyway because I have no idea why she wanted to be my friend. I'm not an author, I haven't written many reviews, I don't have many books even listed because I'm rather new to goodreads. I thought that I'd add my 2 cents worth, just to add to the mystery since I have nothing to steal.


message 16: by Janelle (new)

Janelle (janelle5) I’ve been discussing this in another group as well. It seems like these people represent a pirating ebook website. It’s best to not interact with them at all, but either flag the friend request or report them to Goodreads.


message 17: by Janelle (new)

Janelle (janelle5) Ann I have a required question to all friend requesters. It helps filter out people and explain some of the friend requests that seem random.


message 18: by Justin (new)

Justin Coogle | 91 comments It's likely related to how active you are across multiple forums. That is probably why you have a ton of requests Steve, since you are a pretty active guy in multiple forums.

I'd imagine the best strategy is to continue to ignore them. If anything it may even be more beneficial to just let the friend requests remain there - don't accept or deny. Because if it is stuck in limbo they can't even attempt another request and will likely have you off any "list" since you haven't officially responded.


message 19: by Steve (new)

Steve Pillinger | 517 comments Mod
That's a good point, Justin!


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