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AlishaS
12-08-2011, 01:50 AM
I'm wondering if this is becoming an increasingly new thing?

In the last few months, I've gotten several e-mails from agents that I have queried with not a rejection or a request but rather SPAM!

I won't mention names but, is it just me or is it in poor taste to turn around and use your query mail-list to push either your own book, other services you provide *which cost money* home based businesses that you are now apart of on the side... and the like?

One SPAM mail I recieved I hope was a mistake, a case of hacked e-mail because I don't want to know about house listings in your area... which so happens to be thousand upon thousands of miles from me, in a different country.

Curious if I'm the only one that would rather get a rejection, then spam, and wonder if you have time to copy and paste whatever you are pushing, how is it you don't have time to copy and paste a form rejection?

Drachen Jager
12-08-2011, 02:24 AM
The housing one was probably just hacked. The others you should report to P&E so they can list them (or check P&E, they may already have them marked).

veinglory
12-08-2011, 02:30 AM
I have certainly had some publishers do this, they just seem to add every email they get to their mailing list.

It really pisses me off.

Maryn
12-08-2011, 02:52 AM
I would not be surprised at the publisher or agent who assembled lists of emails of those who query and sells them, either.

I once got back my SASE from agent Jeff Herman--stuffed to postage-due levels with advertising for his own book. Bastid.

Maryn, holder of grudges

Susan Littlefield
12-08-2011, 03:17 AM
It's just plain bad form and, I believe, reason to run other way while putting them on the never query again list.

Smish
12-08-2011, 03:41 AM
I agree that it's inappropriate and unprofessional. They'd certainly complain if you started spamming them.

Filigree
12-08-2011, 04:50 AM
I once queried an agent at Larsen-Pomada. Never heard back from the agent, since her policy is no response=no interest. But a few months after that, I got several emails announcing various LP-sponsored workshops and other services. It verged on spam, and stopped coming when I didn't respond.

jjdebenedictis
12-08-2011, 05:51 AM
I once queried an agent at Larsen-Pomada. Never heard back from the agent, since her policy is no response=no interest. But a few months after that, I got several emails announcing various LP-sponsored workshops and other services. It verged on spam, and stopped coming when I didn't respond.I haven't experienced this from Larsen-Pomada because, about five years ago, I decided not to query them again after my form rejection came back with a brochure.

It's not unethical. It's just tacky.

AlishaS
12-08-2011, 06:14 AM
Glad I'm not the only one.

And wow, a SASE coming back with spam... that is just plain rude!

Chekurtab
12-08-2011, 06:34 AM
It is pathetic when an agent is trying to use "reject" database as a platform for extracurricular activities.

gothicangel
12-08-2011, 12:43 PM
One agent I queried sent back my SAE with a rejection and an ad for her 'how-to-get-published' book.

I also subbed an entry for a first-chapter-of-a-novel comp, and ever since I've recieved email spam from the publisher.

The Lonely One
12-08-2011, 12:56 PM
Curious if I'm the only one that would rather get a rejection, then spam, and wonder if you have time to copy and paste whatever you are pushing, how is it you don't have time to copy and paste a form rejection?

How about both? It seems like an increasing trend; I've sent short stories to journals that got rejected. In the coming weeks I started receiving promotion materials. Not that I don't want to support small journals, but dude, you just sent me a REJECTION and now you're spamming my inbox (that I use specifically for correspondence with editors, mind you) with your material, your workshops and whatever, and I never even SIGNED UP FOR A MAILING LIST. Talk about insult to injury. How would they like it if on top of all the submissions they got I started sending self-promotion of whatever project it is I'm working on, with huge photos and fliers?

I don't know when a query or submission became automatically signing up for a mailing list? And then you feel paranoid, like if you ask them to take you off the mailing list they'll remember you when you submit again...

Terie
12-08-2011, 01:08 PM
And then you feel paranoid, like if you ask them to take you off the mailing list they'll remember you when you submit again...

Not sure the part I bolded is an actual problem because, like, yanno, why WOULD you submit again to an agency/publisher who's that ethically challenged? :D

Margarita Skies
12-08-2011, 01:09 PM
I never imagined agents and publishers were capable of doing something like this. I've just learned, on Dec. 8, 2011 at 4:08 AM EST that when it comes to agents and publishers, I don't know anything. Ouch.

The Lonely One
12-08-2011, 01:27 PM
Not sure the part I bolded is an actual problem because, like, yanno, why WOULD you submit again to an agency/publisher who's that ethically challenged? :D

Well, sadly, it seems there are so many short fic publishers now who do this (the small-time litfic ones are especially guilty of this in my experience) that you'll eventually significantly limit your market if you ignore all these people.

It's like this crowd mentality: "If we all do it, they can't do sh*t."

gothicangel
12-08-2011, 02:46 PM
Well, sadly, it seems there are so many short fic publishers now who do this (the small-time litfic ones are especially guilty of this in my experience) that you'll eventually significantly limit your market if you ignore all these people.


I sympathize. The agent I mentioned is a pretty huge UK agent, and I would like to query her again for my new WIP.

I did buy the book eventually [after I cooled the steam], and it was useful. :)

Phaeal
12-08-2011, 06:27 PM
I've gotten a couple of spam emails detailing the agencies' new self-publishing "consulting" services.

Was tempted to send form responses: "I regret to say that your services do not meet my needs at this time. However, don't be discouraged -- other would-be authors are less cynical than I am. Keep trying!"

;)

Jamesaritchie
12-08-2011, 07:36 PM
If an agent tells you about other services she has that cost money, you've found a bad agent, and one you shouldn't have queried at all.

Torgo
12-08-2011, 07:49 PM
If you write to an agent, and the agent puts you on a mailing list without your knowledge or consent, it's name-and-shame time. I'd be surprised if that weren't actually illegal.

Susan Littlefield
12-08-2011, 09:59 PM
If an agent tells you about other services she has that cost money, you've found a bad agent, and one you shouldn't have queried at all.

I agree that an agent who spams is a bad agent and needs to be avoided.

However, when it comes the last part of your statement--you can research an agent to find nothing negative about them on P&E and Writers Beware, read any threads here on them, and read their website, and still not know they spam people who submit. I would say that reporting agent spammers to P&E and here at AW is important to warn other people.

veinglory
12-08-2011, 11:20 PM
Even some agents who spam are still good agents. One red flag does not a disaster spell.

Susan Littlefield
12-08-2011, 11:35 PM
Even some agents who spam are still good agents. One red flag does not a disaster spell.

I guess bad is subjective then. I was always taught to run the other way if an agent charges you up front to represent you or tries to charge you for any other services. I would think that spam trying to get you to buy their services or an agent's book or their whatnot would fall under the category of trying to get money out of me. For me, this falls under the avoid category.

Now, I don't mind getting things like updates about what is happening at their agency, or other emails about contests, etc. I get these from a few magazines I submitted to and it does not bother me at all.

The Lonely One
12-08-2011, 11:37 PM
Yeah I agree it's extremely bad form to try to sell your book to someone whose dream you just made a little harder. It's almost akin to showboating. I don't think I'd necessarily want a relationship where the agent immediately shoved fliers in my face and made me feel inferior and uncomfortable. A rejection is probably a saving grace.

veinglory
12-08-2011, 11:38 PM
I guess bad is subjective then. I was always taught to run the other way if an agent charges you up front to represent you or tries to charge you for any other services. I would think that spam trying to get you to buy their services or their book or their whatnot would fall under the category of trying to get money out of me. For me, this falls under the avoid category.

The spam is often their general mailing list -- announcements, press releases etc.

Direct solicitations for editing services etc would be more of a problem.

IceCreamEmpress
12-08-2011, 11:44 PM
I'm going to name at least one name here.

Jeff Herman is a successful agent who has made very lucrative deals for some of his clients.

He also has been reported by several people I know as having sent them a flyer promoting his books along with a rejection (this is back in the days of postal mail queries and rejections).

I don't know if Mr. Herman still does this, or the electronic equivalent. I do know that it put me off ever querying him, despite his demonstrated track record of success for clients.

Does Mr. Herman's using rejections as an opportunity for self-promotion mean he's a bad agent? No, he's obviously able to make good deals for clients. Does it make me feel like he and I wouldn't be a good fit? Absolutely.

The Lonely One
12-08-2011, 11:44 PM
The spam is often their general mailing list -- announcements, press releases etc.

Direct solicitations for editing services etc would be more of a problem.

Which in my opinion should be something you sign up for.

Not something submitters get carelessly placed on without knowing. They should understand that if they have no intent on working with someone (a majority of submissions) then those people probably don't care about the neat new service they're offering.

Apply for credit card. Get denied. Get junk mail from credit card company forever. <--this has happened to me as well and the two are pretty much on par to me.


WORD OF THE DAY: Tact.

Susan Littlefield
12-08-2011, 11:47 PM
The spam is often their general mailing list -- announcements, press releases etc.

Direct solicitations for editing services etc would be more of a problem.

Thank you for the clarification. :)

Susan Littlefield
12-08-2011, 11:49 PM
Does Mr. Herman's using rejections as an opportunity for self-promotion mean he's a bad agent? No, he's obviously able to make good deals for clients. Does it make me feel like he and I wouldn't be a good fit? Absolutely.

Well said.

MarkEsq
12-09-2011, 01:44 AM
Hmmm... if an agent repeatedly sends you a flyer/spam/ad for their editing/whatever services, even after you've refused to buy anything...
... does that mean you can repeatedly send them the same query, even after they've rejected you?
:evil

veinglory
12-09-2011, 01:47 AM
Which in my opinion should be something you sign up for.

I 100% agree. But I haven't crossed the offenders (3 so far) of my list unilaterally if I had other reasons to think them a good market (which I did, given i was submitting to them)

On one occasion I told him to cut it out and was told it was an error. Maybe it was.

Snitchcat
12-09-2011, 10:42 AM
From my perspective it's a marketing tactic -- a very poor one when you look at all the options available. However, this type of marketing was used back in the day, when you had almost no resources to find out who would be willing to accept such promotional material from you.

These days, the standard marketing practice is to provide the sender with an opt-in option for receiving promotional material. It's courteous, and much less annoying. And for the promoter, the biggest benefit is being able to maintain a highly accurate mailing list of people interested in hearing about the promoter's latest offer.

To cull a list of "spam-able" emails is more effort than it's worth. And nets you very little in the long-term. While you can argue that marketing includes short-term goals, it's the longer-term ones that really provide a stable profit-maker. Downside is the initial time-cost set up. But, such is the nature of marketing.

On the flip side, I don't agree with the "cos you fit this demographic, I'm sending a specific vibe to you right now.

Not sure how far agents are along in the marketing game. But from the sounds of it, some are unfamiliar with "good" marketing tactics.

Old Hack
12-09-2011, 06:58 PM
Which in my opinion should be something you sign up for.

Absolutely. You should only end up on a mailing list if you sign up for it: but I wonder how many people are unaware of this? Or are unaware that they should also offer an "unsubscribe" option in their mailings?


Jeff Herman is a successful agent who has made very lucrative deals for some of his clients.

He also has been reported by several people I know as having sent them a flyer promoting his books along with a rejection (this is back in the days of postal mail queries and rejections).

I agree that this could be a conflict of interests. But I can also see why some agents might do it without even considering those conflicts.

Imagine that you receive wave after wave of submissions every day, and many of those submissions--in fact, most of them--show the same mistakes, over and over again. Because of those errors reading slush becomes time-consuming, dull, and desperately frustrating.

Imagine also that you've written a book which explains not only why it's wrong to do certain things when writing and/or submitting but also how to avoid them. You know that your book could help these writers improve their work, help them put together better submission packages, and generally improve their chances of getting published. And there'd be a benefit to you if they'd buy it and read it and take all your advice to heart: the volume of your slush pile would substantially reduce, and what was left would be better.

Wouldn't you consider sticking a flyer for your book in with your rejections?

Having seen the submissions pile from the other side I can understand why agents and publishers who have written an appropriate book might do this. Having spoken with one of them who does, I can appreciate the frustration which leads up to it. It's not always done with a cackling laugh and a wish to grab more money from susceptible writers: sometimes there's a good motive behind it.

Phaeal
12-09-2011, 07:31 PM
Imagine that you receive wave after wave of submissions every day, and many of those submissions--in fact, most of them--show the same mistakes, over and over again. Because of those errors reading slush becomes time-consuming, dull, and desperately frustrating.

Imagine also that you've written a book which explains not only why it's wrong to do certain things when writing and/or submitting but also how to avoid them. You know that your book could help these writers improve their work, help them put together better submission packages, and generally improve their chances of getting published. And there'd be a benefit to you if they'd buy it and read it and take all your advice to heart: the volume of your slush pile would substantially reduce, and what was left would be better.

Wouldn't you consider sticking a flyer for your book in with your rejections?


No. I would consider doing that adding a layer of insult to the "injury" of rejection. It goes beyond the neutrality of the typical form rejection into an outright "Um, I'm rejecting this because you suck. Now, buy my book!"

I also doubt that this tactic would significantly improve the quality of slush. Those with the active aspiration to improve and excel will find this kind of book for themselves; the rest will go on thinking they're just fine as they are, and sending that slushy sub out again.

Just my cynical side voicing its opinion, with Rickmanesque velvet acidity.

Old Hack
12-09-2011, 11:47 PM
Phaeal, you always make me laugh.

I've talked about this with a couple of agent who have done similar things and I'm satisfied that they've done so out of frustration rather than a desire to insult anyone, or the hope that they'll sell more books. I'm not going to name them here because I don't think it's appropriate to do so, bearing in mind our chats were informal and relaxed: but I can completely empathise with their desperation; and I can also completely empathise with your dismissal of it.

It's a difficult thing for us to discuss because there are so many various viewpoints here. But that doesn't mean that I'm going to dismiss any of them, or condemn anyone for holding them.

IceCreamEmpress
12-10-2011, 01:53 AM
OH, I think it's pretty narcissistic for an agent to assume that their directory of agents and publishers, or their "How to Write a Book Proposal" book, or whatever, is The Answer for everyone whose queries they reject.

These particular friends were also experienced writers, people unlikely to have made newbie mistakes that Mr. Herman's directories or his book about how to write a book proposal would have helped them correct. The impression I got was that it was just standard agency practice to include the advertising flyers in every rejection. Which turned me off.

Giant Baby
12-11-2011, 09:42 PM
I actually had my email passed along by an agent to his clients for promotional purposes. I started getting daily emails from a hip-hop artist I wasn't familiar with, about his upcoming book launch event. They were coming to an email address I keep extremely pristine, use-wise, so it never recieves spam of any kind. The only link I could find relating this artist to me in any way was his agent, who'd read a manuscript of mine a couple of years ago. Still, it just seemed too far afield to assume the agent had farmed out my addy, so I contacted the artist directly to inquire. No response, and no change (despite my request) in the frequency of emails I recieved from him.

About a week later, I started getting spammed by a second writer, same sort of thing. I looked up her agent, and sure enough, same guy. That sealed it for me and I got in touch with the agent directly. I told him I was always happy to support other writers, but that I didn't sign up for that and that he may not pass that particular email address along to anyone. He responded with a single word, and the emails stopped then and there.

Yes, he's successful and considered resputable. I'm assuming it was an error in sorting distribution lists. That said, I haven't queried him this go round, despite his success and previous interest in my work. Just... no.