Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tale of the Two Sister Uglies

From a translation of The Little Glass Slipper.

One of the many beautiful illustrations by Mirko Hanak
that adorn the text of European Fairy Tales.

Some time ago, agents were annoyed by and writers were warned against, services which -- for a fee -- spammed agents and editors with queries.

Seems the other shoe has dropped.

Now, apparently, there is another drive-by service of the Pay for Pimp variety, whereby people are hired to flit about at random and drop irrelevant plugs in the comment sections of unsuspecting blogs.

Utilizing the camouflage of the innocent enthusiast.

Without disclosure that they are paid advertisers.


Following a link from Raine, I found a synonymous discussion of the tactic on Dear Author.

To wit: Unsavory, unprincipled, underhanded, dispicable, deceptive, dishonest, sleazy, smelly, tacky, false, fraud, fake, cheat, appalling, lazy, and pathetic.

The term unethical was also roundly applied, I believe.

This sneaky maneuver reminds me forcibly of the step-sisters in Cinderella -- the version where they mutilate their feet in hopes of fitting the shoe and winning the handsome prince.

And it stinks.

Superior Words:


A useful word to describe your visiting cousin's beastly offspring without giving offense. "Your little ones are highly zoanthropic today, Mildred. How do you do it?"

A new short fiction challenge, Restless Dawn, opens today at Clarity of Night.

Jason did not pay me to post this notice.

Pimp Report of Another Kind:
Natasha Fondren, aka Spy Scribbler, says she loved my short story Stone Child from the Weirdly anthology.

I did not pay her to post her review.

But I happily kiss her hands and feet.


Church Lady said...

Wow. There is no end to the kind of scam that pops up, is there?

I hope Google is able to develop filters for such things, much like MSN has developed filters for spam email.

Bernita said...

Don't think this will be as easily filtered as the spambots, Chris.
But the delete button is still our best defence.

Jon M said...

That's naughty and shouldn't be allowed but then that's the freedom of the internet. You can't shut the door on virtual salesmen as easily. While I've got your attention, could I recommend..? :-)

Jon M said...

I am actually recommending a book on my blog but nobody paid me HONEST!!!!!

Bernita said...

It's not that they are flogging a title, Jon, that makes this reprehensible, but that they are not open about it being a paid advert.
And the process devalues the integrity of honest reviews from people who have actually read a book and recommend it.

writtenwyrdd said...

My earlier post apparently got eaten. I haven't gotten any writing-related spam posts, but I did get one that apparently was for a Thai porn site. Didn't go past a brief glimpse at the main page, though.

Jeff said...

I'm not sure how it could be enforced, but permission and full disclosure should be mandatory for any such advertisement on a blog.

Like you, if I recommend a book and/or author on my blog or elsewhere, it is because I was impressed with the work, not because I was paid to do it.

Robyn said...

You know how irritating I find self-promoting hijackers, but at least that's an actual author trying to find ways to get the word out. Annoying, but understandable.

But paying someone who has probably never read, and never will read, your book to sing your praises? If someone were paid to favorably review a book or movie in a newspaper, that person would not only be fired but the credibility of the paper questioned. Why is it different because it happens on a blog?

Bernita said...

I don't think I've gotten any of the type in question, either, Written, but more prominent people have apparently.
I've had occasional requests to participate in blog tours, all but one of which I have turned down, but those requests have come up-front from publicists and I believe I made the situation clear in my review.

Exactly, Jeff.
Probably the best enforcement is public contempt for the trickery.

Jaye Wells said...

"It's not that they are flogging a title..."

I think you just coined a term for this ridiculous practice--"flogging."

Bernita said...

Yes, Robyn, the first is simply a case of bad manners.
The second, because of the false-flag deception, is dishonest.

Bernita said...

But there's honest flogging, Jaye, so I don't think so.

jason evans said...

That reminds me of paid mourners back in the day.

Thanks for the contest mention! I'll put my checkbook away. ;)

Bernita said...

A good and interesting comparison, Jason.
I don't think that tradition exculpates the practice, however.

You may safely do so - I'm cheap!

Charles Gramlich said...

I think this is what they call "viral marketing" and it can be highly successful. It certainly rankles, though. And the worst thing is that it erodes the trustworthiness of almost all commentary and review.

Billy said...

"Zoanthropy." Cool. It's so much fun to drop words like this into casual conversation. Mark Twain used to respond to remarks by saying, "It's too bituminous for me." "Bituminous" refers to a kind of coal, I believe. Next time someone asks me to dinner, I think I'm going to tell 'em that I'm going back to school to major in Zoanthropy. People will probably smile politely and say "Please pass the butter."

Bernita said...

It rankles because it's not genuine word-of-mouth, Charles, just paid shilling.

Ot, Billy, when someone asks your opinion of the recent trend for paranormal fiction, you could say, seriously, "It may represent a societal zoanthropy fetish."

raine said...

I often find that I'm naive about several aspects of the business, so this, frankly, took me by surprise. Something of an online sandwich board, I suppose, and regular spam is tiresome enough as it is.
But not only are serious readers unlikely to take the word of a pop-up stranger touting a book--but the repercussions it generates for those who genuinely want to spread the good word about something they've read--without the money under the keyboard.
Is it all about the marketing, or oesn't the actual quality of work mean anything anymore?

Scott from Oregon said...

The easiset way to solve the problem is to make sure the book is never read.

Gabriele C. said...

Yeah, they exist. But I'm evil and delete any comments with links that are from people I don't know.

Bernita said...

"...serious readers unlikely to take the word of a pop-up stranger touting a book"

Highly unlikely that they would, Raine, and further, very likely to be annoyed by the crassness of it all - which makes this tactic not only unproductive but stupid.

It's a good way to get on a Do-Not-Buy list, Scott.

It's your blog, Gabriele, not a supermarket cork board for flyers, baby-sitting services, free kittens, and used fridges for sale.

The Anti-Wife said...

I equate this with the annoying phone calls for all things political during elections. I hang up on them just as I delete or ignore these posts.

Flog them all!

Bernita said...

The cyber-death penalty gets my vote, AW!

Anonymous said...

It's hard to separate the chaff from the wheat - sometimes I read gushing comments about a book, and I'm sure it's a sock (that's what we call a 'planted comment by someone who is rushing around planting gushing comments' in my yahoo group - don't ask me why!) and sometimes I'm sure it's a fan who's genuinely enthusiastic about her favorite author and books.
I don't usually read reviews, I find my books by word of mouth, mostly - or suggestions from friends. I try not to get bothered about socks all the while, (not really, lol) wishing I had a few running around posting about MY books.


Bernita said...

Sam, I think sock puppets are one of the leading causes of indigestion among bloggers.

Shesawriter said...

These days you don't know what to believe. Is a favorable comment genuine? What's next? Reviewers taking money under the table?

SzélsőFa said...

I'm promoting Jason's contest at the moment for the same reason you do Bernita, no cash, just plain interest, plus the sense of community.

Bernita said...

Sock puppetry also a leading cause of cynicism, Tanya.

Sensible people will recognize that, Szelsofa. We merely share information about an opportunity.

Cynthia Bronco said...

I once heard a man recite the story of Cinderella in spoonerisms; it was Cinderella and her two Sisty Uglers. That tidbit has nothing to do with your post. :)

Bernita said...

Cynthia, where do you think I got the ( slightly altered) title for my post?
There was, I believe,a pransome hince and mention of a necklace of poobies and rearls.
I so loved that skit.