In response to last week’s article, Authors Who Spam, I received the following inquiry this week:
By your definition, press release distribution services would always be sending spam? I agree it is a big problem but in the field of PR it is common to send form releases to a variety of markets whether they are addressed individually or sent to a group by a service. How else could someone contact book/product reviewers or columnists for a national campaign? One by one would take forever and I don’t think most individuals could even find half of the contacts the distribution services have.
What Cheryl brought is up is indeed turning into a big problem in the industry. I’m not talking about the big, reputable press release services like prwire.com. What I’m talking about are the so-called marketing services that pedal their services to authors, claiming to send press releases out to a “targeted list.” Unfortunately, some of these firms instead buy large lists of so-called journalists (they’re just lists and often not journalists at all), and spam them.
Authors who hire these small, shoddy companies often find themselves on spammer lists and the target of intense anger and flaming. And, it isn’t just spam these “press release distribution” services are guilty of. They send out junk faxes to the masses as well, wasting their victims’ paper, expensive ink and time. This turned into such a problem for us that we actually spent the money on software to have each fax appear as a graphic file in our system so we can delete the junk before it prints.
Spam and Junk Faxes Ruin Reputations
One of the primary junk-fax perpetrators was one of the biggest POD companies in the industry (they also have a really bad reputation). I had to issue a written warning to them after they continued to send us junk fax press releases (for books that did NOT target our audience at all) over several months, despite our repeated complaints. I heard complaints they were doing this to others over and over again as well. As soon as they’d drop us from their list, they’d just buy another list that had our fax number on it and start all over again. They were selling this expensive press release service to their authors, which, of course, made the authors look bad as well.
I receive spam and junk faxes from these press release distribution companies all the time and I never signed up to be on any list to receive press releases. I get them from wanna-be “marketing companies” that are pedaling press releases for everything from offshore oil investments to personal care products to, of course, books that have nothing at all to do with freelance writing or publishing.
Spammers Claim They Know How to Market Products? Ha!
These firms are NOT sending their press releases to a targeted list. I would trust a firm like prwire.com to send out my press release, but I would not trust any small, new company (or POD publisher) that promises to distribute press releases for authors only to a “targeted list.” Why? Because most of them have marketed their own services to us using spam. Yes, many of these so-called marketing experts are spammers! Sending out a press release about a book is one thing. Spamming authors while trying to get them to let you market their book is horrible…and is quite obviously spam.
Authors should never, ever trust a spammer to market their book. No matter how enticing the service appears, if someone spams you, you do NOT want to do business with them. They’ll drag you down into spammer hell with them if you do.
I know contacting editors one-on-one, targeting them specifically based on the content of your book, is time-consuming. But, it’s the right thing to do to keep you off the spammer lists and to protect your reputation. And, if you approach a newspaper editor by name and tell them exactly how and why your book would be of interest to their specific audience, you are MUCH more likely to get press from that editor.
If you send a blind, form press release to 100 newspaper editors, you probably won’t get any press. If you email 20 editors and address them individually, telling them why your book is of specific interest to their particular readers, you will probably get press.
Trust me. It really is worth the time to peddle your book the responsible way!