Badly behaving author alert – sort of: “Smith Publicity”

So I had an email a day or two ago from, apparently, an entity called “Smith Publicity” plugging two books (for what it’s worth, The Mortis by Jonathan Miller, and The Confessional by Reiny Pierson). I responded asking that my email address be removed from whatever list it had somehow gotten on, and also asking how they got hold of it in the first place. I would have let it all fade into oblivion if the response had not been: “Your information was obtained by our intern who researched reviewers.”

If there’s anything worse than spammers, it’s spammers who data-mine indiscriminately. I wouldn’t have read either of these books before this; now I am actively anti-them.

So here’s my PSA for the day: you might want to block the email addresses and Since they’re acting on the authors’ behest and, I assume, on their nickel, I wouldn’t trust either of them as far as I could throw ’em either. Miller’s a Goodreads author; that worries me a little. I will have to investigate to see if I can figure out where my email address was found; on Goodreads it’s available only to friends, and I’m not seeing that it’s available at all on LibraryThing, Booklikes, or here. Or Amazon. Hm.

I should have asked that when I poked the troll. I sent a snarky email back to Smith Publicity berating them for spamming, and this was such a great response that I have to add it here: “It’s not spam just because I sent you an unsolicited email asking you to review a book”.

The definition of spam: “Unsolicited e-mail, often of a commercial nature, sent indiscriminately to multiple mailing lists, individuals, or newsgroups; junk e-mail.” Stupid trolls are so cute.

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33 Responses to Badly behaving author alert – sort of: “Smith Publicity”

  1. pooks says:

    I need a bit of educating on this, I think! So the problem was that they got your email address, that you keep on a fairly tight lockdown, raising your questions as to how they got it?

    I’m wondering what the legit ways of finding and approaching reviewers are.

  2. stewartry says:

    This could be long … :)

    The first thing is that it *is* spam, and over the years I’ve developed a sort of pathological hatred for junk email and telemarketers. The fact that they harvested my email address from somewhere does bother me, a lot; I purposely try to avoid nonsense like this. Telemarketers occupy a special circle of hell; spammers are right in there with them, and possibly in a hotter region, since it takes so much less effort to send a thousand emails than to make ten phone calls.

    For example, I keep my Goodreads profile (including email) set to only be available to friends; I changed that briefly, and got a handful of uninvited messages from self-published writers trying to push their books. (I changed it back quickly.)

    Between that and the clueless idiots who would join a group (regardless of whether the group had much to do with their book), and make their first and often only post a brand new thread boasting about how wonderful their book was…. It’s insulting – the groups I’ve belonged to on GR tended to be pretty tight and built up over time, with certain etiquette. And invading the place with no introduction except “Hi read my book” is very bad manners; join, plop down your promotional post, and exit, stage left? No. Bad author. Bad.

    And one reason it is such a transgression is that most of these groups welcome promotional posts – if they’re put in the proper place. There’s usually a section for author posts – but it seems oddly like some of these people can’t read, which doesn’t bode well for the quality of their writing.

    I have no problem if a writer contacts me via a message on this blog or a comment on a review or something like that asking me to read a book relevant to what they’re commenting on. I have no problem with those courteous posts in proper groups along the lines of “hey, histfic fans, I’d love it if you checked out my historic fiction”. Other legit ways of finding reviewers would be actually joining these groups and actually spending a little time with the people they hope to gain as readers, even without posting much. It does take time, though, so most don’t bother. If approached courteously, with, as I said, a book that I might actually read – meaning the author has done a little homework and is using their brains… Well, that’s the thing. It’s when they don’t use their brains, or a bit of common courtesy, that I get annoyed.

    Reader giveaways on Goodreads and LibraryThing are a good way to get a little attention; allowing people to read a description of your book and choose whether they’d like to try it free can’t go wrong.

    Where I have a problem is when I get a random message about an author I’ve never heard of about a book that in no way resembles anything I have read or would read – why would they even bother? And for this woman, hired by these clueless authors, to inform me that she had some underpaid/unpaid kid trolling online book reviews to harvest emails to send out batches of sales pitches was well beyond the pale. There has been so much terrible behavior by authors on Goodreads especially that I am not disposed to cut anyone any slack. It’s a site for *readers* – but there are some writers who treat it like their own personal marketing arena.

    Sorry – bit of a rant there. But it’s something that’s been a long time building.

  3. pooks says:

    I get enough of this kind of thing that I usually ignore or sometimes turn down. I get way too many friendings on FB or twitter, etc. that result in a PM offering me a book or trying to sell me a book and yeah, that rarely even gets a polite response. I just block them. Since it seemed that them having your address at all was a big part of your concern, I was curious about it. Thanks!

  4. stewartry says:

    That’s exactly why I’m not more active on Facebook! I’ve gotten a lot of “so-and-so-writer is following on Twitter”, but – so far, knock on wood, no solicitations.

  5. I’ve personally had fantastic experiences with Smith Publicity. They represent a lot of books through NetGalley and 100% of my dealings with them have been pleasant, professional and also personal (but in a good way, not a bad way). Surely this can’t be your only encounter with people sending you review requests?? I get a minimum of a dozen a day, whether it’s from authors or publicists who find my info through Amazon, Goodreads, book blogger directories (which I see you’re also listed on), or from just finding my blog/reviews through an internet search.

  6. stewartry says:

    Ah – Netgalley. Of course. This wasn’t *quite* the first time anyone has sent me a review request; I’ve had two or three strangers and a friend ask me, because I read in their genre and it made sense,. It *is* the first time I’ve had a publicist contact me, and now I feel quite insignificant about not getting those dozen + a day requests… I must be doing something wrong. Or right. One of those.

  7. I’m actually very surprised as well! You have a great blog and if you post your reviews on any other sources–esp. Amazon–it doesn’t take long before people find you. I’ve had to write a form letter to email back to people explaining why I can’t review their book (I don’t have time, I rarely accept unsolicited reviews, I don’t care about their poetry book about raising Christian cats, etc.). But to cut down on my own annoyance, I have a separate email that is devoted only to blog stuff or anything “Cozy Little Book Journal” related, which is separate from my personal “Mary” email address. :)

  8. stewartry says:

    Part of me is bothered by the fact that 139 reviews on Amazon and almost 400 on Goodreads haven’t gotten me any attention – but part of me is a bit relieved. I realized last year that well over half my reading was at others’ behest; last year I just read what I wanted for the first time in a couple of years and it felt great. So I’d just as soon *not* get a dozen or more emails like that. (Raising Christian cats?! Yikes.)

  9. Haha..I made up the Christian cats one, but some of the review requests I get are pretty out there. I actually had to add to my review policy (and my form-letter email) that I will absolutely not consider review requests from anonymous sources. ANONYMOUS! As in, people were pushing their books on me but refusing to tell me their names (or even a stupid pen name), even after being asked multiple times! You would not believe how many times that has happened. I also get a lot of self-published authors trying to get me to review their books on Amazon and then sending me a link to where I can buy their book. Uh, at that point they’re just trying to make a sale…and expecting me to review their book as well. Ugh. But I much MUCH prefer working with publicists. Like I said, I’ve had fantastic experiences with the people at Smith Publicity, and also JKS Communications (another book publicist).

    On the other hand, I totally hear you about having more books on your reading pile that are for “other people” than just your own choices. I’m definitely falling victim to that one right now. I actually feel rebellious for ignoring my e-reader full of NetGalley books and reading random things I picked up from the library instead….which is such a weird thing to feel “rebellious” about.

  10. stewartry says:

    I know! I got a little “FREE BOOKS” glazed-over with Netgalley, and probably overcommitted. And I felt totally rebellious when I let the ones I didn’t much want to read just slide. Yup, we’re hellraisers, we are. :P

  11. Oh I know! It starts to feel like school, like I’ve got a whole bunch of book reports due and I don’t want to disappoint the teacher. Then I remember that I’m not actually getting graded on my blog, or paid for it, or in any way compensated for my time other than with an out-of-control and ever-increasing reading list that is just adding to the problem. Sometimes I also rebel by watching all the Marple or Poirot episodes again while knitting or doing puzzles (THEY CAN’T MAKE ME READ THEIR BOOKS WHEN I’M SO CLEARLY BUSY WITH SUDOKU AND TV). It’s a rebellion that goes on entirely inside my own head.

    Well, except for that one time when I agreed to review a woman’s book after meeting her in person at a library event, then it turned out she worked at my dentist’s office. I didn’t like her book so I dragged my heels in reviewing it. Every time she called me to book an appointment with the dentist she’d ask about the review. Finally I posted it (it wasn’t that nice). I may have to change dentists now.

    See? That’s why I prefer dealing with publicists. I would never have to change dentists because of a publicist.

  12. I find it interesting that you have the gall to malign me as a bad author. I had nothing, and I mean nothing to do with your receiving a copy of my novel The Confessional and a review request from my publicist. I guess I can assume that you are not a Christian cat, just a feline needing constant strokes.

  13. stewartry says:

    A) I never said you were a bad author; I said your publicist was badly behaved, and that I would prefer not to read the work of someone who would hire such.
    B) You have a great deal of gall making an (erroneous) assumption as to whether or not I’m Christian – I’m not Christian because I want to avoid spam and I won’t read your book? Who ARE you?
    C) I don’t know exactly what -C- is; I’m still trying to let the nausea subside at being called a “cat”. Last time I looked the sixties were a long time ago.
    D) Constant strokes? Perhaps you didn’t read the post I made? I want LESS attention from the likes of you, very much not more.
    Please go away now.

  14. Here are two quotes from you: “Badly behaving author alert” and ” Part of me is bothered by the fact that 139 reviews on Amazon and almost 400 on Goodreads haven’t gotten me any attention.”
    The cat allusion was from the response to the person who referred to Christian cats. Her statement: “I don’t care about their poetry book about raising Christian cats,” I only mentioned it because you seem very catty not whether or not you’re Christian. I suspect that if you actually read my book, unsolicited or not, you might actually like it. But to dismiss it because of my publicist seems very unprofessional to me.
    As to who I am, I’m a retired English teacher who spent 30 years teaching senior honors English, was the English department chair for six years until I wrote the proposal to start a legal studies academy at the high school where I taught. After my proposal was accepted by the superintendent of schools, I established the academy, wrote the curriculum for the four years that students would attend the academy and was the administrator for the academy until I retired. I hold a B.A. in English, an M.A. in Humanities and a Ph.D. in English Education.
    As to your comment ” I don’t know exactly what -C- is” I don’t know what you’re talking about. In addition your statement: “I’m still trying to let the nausea subside at being called a “cat”.” What’s wrong with cats? And what does “Last time I looked the sixties were a long time ago” have to do with anything?
    I am very happy to go away without commenting on your dismissive, bratty comment.

  15. stewartry says:

    You don’t know what the 60’s have to do with calling someone a cat? Oh…kay. You’ve taken my words out of context, stooped to name-calling, AND made use of a badly-behaving publicist – *now* you qualify as a BBA. This is all very sad.

  16. I was in college in the early sixties, got married in 1967 and had my first child in 1969. So I had no time to waste on what “cat” meant nor would I have cared. As to my taking words out of context, they are your words and they are demeaning. As to my publicist, I emailed her to find out why she would send a book to an unsolicited reviewer. Her response was less than enlightening an I do indeed find fault with her actions. Not being in the texting world I have no idea what BBA is but coming from you I’m sure it’s less than kind which I find very sad.

  17. Wow, Stewatry, do you remember that episode of The Simpsons in which Lisa has a dream that she’s playing a concert with all the other second-string musicians and everyone is booing? She says, “Why did they come to our concert just to boo us?” I can’t help but be reminded of that. Why would someone come to your blog just to boo you?

    I guess what I’ve taken from this is that Smith Publicity may or may not be unpleasant to deal with (I’ve had fantastic experiences with them, very professional) but one thing we know for sure is that at least *one* author is definitely unpleasant to deal with. I won’t name names, but I’ll give you three guesses…

  18. stewartry says:

    @ BBA: In your so-remarkable life you’ve remained remarkably unaware of popular culture? Okay. BBA = Badly. Behaving Author. Which phrase I’ve used a few times now, and which you could have googled, and avoided looking ignorant. And it has nothing to do with texting. Again, I wasn’t the one who took this to the level of name-calling; don’t you think you should quit while you’re behind? It *is* my blog; you’re never going to have the last word. I think I’ve been rather-fair-minded not simply deleting your comments.

  19. stewartry says:

    @cozylittlebookjournal: I was wondering the same thing. Well, she also came to turn a rhetorical and marveling “Who are you?” into an opportunity to toot her own horn.

    You know, before she wandered in here I had already put this silliness behind me, and would never have remembered the authors’ names; it was the publicist that was acting in a way I didn’t approve of. Now this author has decided to embrace the role of BBA (Badly Behaving Author, for those who, like the BBA, weren’t paying attention), I won’t forget.

    This is why so many of my friends read only dead authors.

  20. stewartry says:

    And seriously – did I say anything in my original post about the authors, except that I assumed that they knew what the people they hired were doing for them and that turned me off them? The post’s title is “Badly Behaving Author Alert – SORT OF”, which was meant to indicate that their wrong-doing was in hiring a publicist which I felt was taking actions of which I, and many in the reviewing community, disapprove. And yet Ms. Pierson felt she had to take this opportunity to launch herself from “name in an email who might have given her publicist better direction” to “name-calling BBA who does not read for content, likes to take partial quotes out of context, and is surprisingly ignorant in at least one arena, who didn’t even have a clue what the publicist she hired was doing in her name”. I used the word “sad” before…. “Appalling” kind of works, too.

  21. stewartry says:

    For anyone who’s interested, the author in question left yet another comment on this post, which was so self-aggrandizing, pompous, offensive, and clueless that I deleted it. Ms. – oh, so sorry, DOCTOR Pierson, please grow up and let it go. You did behave badly; you overreacted; the excuse for an apology you offer is laughable (and insincere). I will delete any further irruptions from you. Good luck with your work, and I hope you find less obnoxious means of spreading the word about it.

  22. Wow…sorry I didn’t read all the replies, Stewartry…I was busy making sure there were no books by *someone* on my reading list. Then again, I’ve never heard of her (him? not sure) so I can’t imagine there would be.


    It’s amazing to me that there are authors who don’t understand that trying to get total strangers to read your book AND write and post a review for it–simply because you’re asking them to–is a pretty big ask. The answer will usually be no. But it’s so important to treat it like you’re asking a total stranger for a favour, or like you’re sending out a cover letter to a company you want to get a job interview from, or like you’re knocking on someone’s door to try to sell them makeup or something…in other words, BE POLITE AND PROFESSIONAL AT ALL TIMES. I honestly am dismayed by authors who think this is some sort of two-way street of snark and gripes (what a horrible street that would be). Can you imagine knocking on someone’s door to try to sell them something, or to get them to vote for your candidate or whatever, then having that person be slightly rude (as is their right since it’s their house and their door!) and to react by arguing with them for twenty minutes about what a horrible person they are? Wow, that’s the way to get votes or sales.

    This exchange has been like that. In other words, the only thing I’ve learned here is that I can’t imagine ever wanting to read a book by someone who would behave this way.

    Again, wowza.

  23. Ooh ooh do you remember that nutjob on GR who wrote some book about…oh, it’ll come to me…I read it…it was the worst book I’ve ever read…it had “Virginland” in the title I think…Journey to Virginland maybe? Anyway, he gave a bunch of DRCs away on GR, but everyone hated his book (it was literally the worst book I had ever read) so he freaked the heck out and started messaging people NON-STOP, explaining why they were too stupid to understand his book and how he was so much smarter than everyone. Then he started sending out excerpts of his book–paragraph by paragraph–in messages and comments to people! He was copying his WHOLE BOOK out before GR may have finally stopped him.

    Can’t imagine what made me think of that…

  24. stewartry says:

    Wowza, indeed. Can you imagine if I’d actually said anything against her to start with? I had to go back and reread my post, thinking “Good Lord, what did I say??” But … I didn’t. I complained about Smith. God above help anyone who dares to give Dr. Pierson a bad review.

  25. stewartry says:

    Oh my. I didn’t know about that one. UNbelievable. What a farce it is.

  26. Oh I’m sure Ole Piersey won’t have to worry about reviews, one way or the other. You’d need readers for that. And, you know, for people to have heard of you.

  27. Haha yeah Stewartry! See, she was being TOTALLY REASONABLE when she immediately accused you of not being “a Christian cat” (WTF?) and insinuating that you needed “constant strokes” (double WTF). TOTALLY REASONABLE.

    Glad that’s all cleared up now.

  28. stewartry says:

    Oh for heaven’s sake, what the hell, WordPress? You let me let a comment by that woman sit on my blog for twelve hours without notifying me? *shakes fist* *deletes as promised*

    I hope this is all over now so I can go drink a bowl of milk and … I can’t finish that sentence, I’m making myself queasy. I was going to say something about being a cool jive cat, but I can’t manage that either.

    (For the record, I had completely forgotten about the “Poetry on Raising Christian Cats” when she said it, so it did not compute at all. Not that it made much more sense after I remembered.)

  29. Haha yeah that was my fault. I was just rambling about all the weird book requests I got and I made that up as an example. I think Ole Piercy didn’t read the thread very carefully either, and somehow that’s the image that stuck with her. I have a feeling she’ll be sending me a review request for her new self-help poetry book, “Raising Christian Cats,” any day now.

  30. You know what I just thought of? Is Dr. Whats-her-name a regular reader of your blog? Or did she find your post so quickly because she has a Google alert for her own name? I’m guessing it’s that one.

  31. stewartry says:

    I do believe you’re correct. I don’t think I ever saw her name show up before, so I’d assume so.

  32. dana says:

    Used Smith Publicity. It’s a waste of BIG money. They say they’re pitching, but who knows how they’re spending the time. The type of publications they got me were of super poor quality. Very slow and the publicists lack enthusiasm. Seems like they still use 19th-century book publicity. Wasted 12 grand.

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