A Letter to the Authors Who Spam Me

Can I be a curmudgeon today and say how sick I am of author-related spam? Every day I get more and more emails and FB messages from other authors telling me about their books, asking me to download a free version, requesting a “like” or a look at a page/blog/video. And I’ve had enough.

I’m sending an open message to all the spammers in my life. Well, I’m not sending it — that would be spamming the spammers, and I can’t be party to such hypocritical shenanigans, so I am posting the message here:

For cripes sake, if you know me, then you know I do not appreciate being spammed. You also know I have never in my entire online life sent such an email, never spammed anyone. I realize spamming people is still the premier way of getting known and selling books, but if you already know me, then give me a break. I am well aware of you and your books, your extracurricular activities, your videos, and I do not need to be reminded. If I wanted to check them out, I already have. If I don’t know you, then what business do you have asking me, a stranger, for favors? If your book is free, it’s still spam. It’s still a promo. It’s still asking a stranger for a favComputer attackor.

What? You think you’re special because you self-published a book and are giving it away free, and so I should be groveling in gratitude that you gifted me with a download of your ebook? You’re one of millions. Even if you were a brand name, even if you were Stephen King (especially if you were Stephen King) I would not download your book. I do not have a Kindle, a Nook, a Sony, a tablet, an IPhone, or any other means of reading an ebook besides my computer, and I cannot read long works on my computer. If you knew anything about me, you would know that, and wouldn’t waste your time and my good graces on such an email.

I promote authors sight unseen via my various blogs and social networking sites. This isn’t enough for you? You want more? Why? I already spend most of my online life promoting you and other authors. I thought that the favor would be returned, and guess what? It seldom is. Most writers who make use of my favors aren’t aware that I am a published author. (A darn good one, too.) Most see nothing but a spot of free advertising. I don’t mind that, truly I don’t. I’ve always felt it was the right thing to do. If it did matter, I’d make my favors quid pro quo. But regardless, I don’t deserve to be paid off in spam.

Like Santa, I’m making a list and checking it twice. Unlike baseball, in my game you only get two strikes. One spammy email could be considered a mistake. Two and you’re out. Period. I don’t care if you’re my best friend. And oh, by the way, you’re not. Best friends don’t spam best friends. Friends don’t spam friends. If we’re on an emailing basis and you want to crow over a new book, just mention it in the context of an email. You don’t have to add me to your mailing list with gazillions of other people. Believe me, it doesn’t make me feel special.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Proving I Am Human

My email provider has apparently decided I am not human. Every time I try to send an email, it posts strangely twisted letters for me to identify to prove that I am not a machine. Since I have a hard time seeing some of the twists and turns, occasionally this email provider kicks me off its site for not being human.

Does anyone else see the irony of trying to prove to a computer that I am other than it? And losing?

Perhaps the computer should be trying to prove to me that it exists. Or at least that it knows what it’s doing. My email provider says there has been too much spam being sent from my IP address, which is why they need this proof of humanity (as if humans never send junk email) but the IP address they say is mine, the email address all that spam is originating from is in Kansas City. Huh? What does that have to do with me? I am more than a thousand miles away from Kansas, though maybe I fell down a rabbit hole without being aware of it? No, wait . . . rabbit holes have to do with Wonderland, not Kansas. Must be all this email jabberwocky that’s confusing me. Or perhaps to a computer — which I may or may not be — Wonderland and Oz are the same place.

I do understand the rationale behind the captchas — spam is getting way out of control. In the last few weeks, three people I know had their email accounts hacked, and two lost the accounts and everything in them. At least a dozen Facebook friends had their profiles hacked in the past couple of days and naked photos were posted through their accounts (photos that have over five hundred thousand likes, I might add — apparently I’m going about social networking all wrong. I’m lucky to get five likes per post).

And on top of all this, every few minute a png file tries to open itself on my computer, files with bizarre names such as jkjsylddw.png or qwxxcvjks.png. Perhaps a computer or two has decided I’m one of them and they are coming on to me?

Ah, well, I’ll just have to continue traveling the twisted path of trying to prove I am human. But I still think it’s bizarre I have to continually prove it. I mean, whatever happened to “I think, therefore I am”? Shouldn’t that be proof enough?

Unexploding a A-OK Life

I had to check my spam comments today to see if anybody’s contest entry ended up there by mistake. (If you add more than a link or tow to your comment, it’s sure to be classified as spam). I thought I’d share some of the canned crap I found.  If these absurdities aren’t enough to ponder here’s something I just discovered: On average, 3.8 cans of SPAM are consumed every second in the United States. Yikes.  

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Even Comment Spam Can Sometimes be Tasty

Spammers have discovered one of my more obscure blogs, but some of the spammers got wise — instead of the usual gibberish (which I was going to post here to show you how totally giberishy it is, but decided I’d better not attract their attention) these spammers post quotes, and it works! I don’t delete them. Just goes to show that not everything is all bad, not even comment spam. So, here are a few of the quotes left on the blog, author unknown (at least to me):

I’m all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let’s start with typewriters.

The ‘Net is a waste of time, and that’s exactly what’s right about it.

God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.

Memory feeds imagination.

To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes may be the biggest mistake of all.

Let us so live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.

Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.

The whole dream of democracy is to raise the proletarian to the level of stupidity attained by the bourgeois.

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it’s important.

Get pleasure out of life…as much as you can. Nobody ever died from pleasure.

In real life, unlike in Shakespeare, the sweetness of the rose depends upon the name it bears. Things are not only what they are. They are, in very important respects, what they seem to be.

On the plus side, death is one of the few things that can be done just as easily lying down.

The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.

Temptation rarely comes in working hours. It is in their leisure time that men are made or marred.

I write because I’m afraid to say some things out loud.

As long as you derive inner help and comfort from anything, keep it.

The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.

Part of being creative is learning how to protect your freedom. That includes freedom from avarice.

Wishing You a Boring, Perfect World

For some reason, the spammers have found my obscure Quantum (Uni)Verse blog where I post “frozen thoughts.” (They’re not really poetry, and they are not new writings. They are thoughts I once had that are now, well, frozen.) These spammers are clever — instead of the obvious gibberish that so many spammers use, these are quotes, some quite interesting, so I am leaving them on the blog. One that I received today said, “I guess we’d be living in a boring, perfect world if everybody wished everybody else well.”  Despite the risk, I do wish you all well.

Tweet-y Bird

I received a direct message from someone I was following on Twitter. (Notice I said was following? Anyone who sends me junk gets unfollowed.) The message included a link to a site that promised to automate my Twitter. It will find followers for me, it will Tweet for me, and it will read the feed for me. Well, perhaps I exaggerating a bit when it comes to the last point, but the first two are true. It makes me wonder what the point of it is. Who are we tweeting to? Birds? Bugs? Bots?

Even without signing up for the various sites that purport to help me live a tweeter life, I still participate in a bit of automation. Whenever I post a blog, WordPress automatically updates Twitter, which in turn updates MySpace and LinkedIn. Perhaps I am missing the point. I do know Twitter is supposed to about real people talking in real time about real subjects, but I have yet to participate in a real conversation. Occasionally I RT (retweet) someone’s update, sometimes I remember to return a #FF (Follow Friday), but for the most part I don’t see anything I want to comment on. As I said, I could be missing the point.

I’m rethinking my social networking time. After my blog tour, I’m going to be spending way less time on the computer. (Eyestrain, anyone?) I want to go more for quality than quantity. I used to friend everyone on Facebook I could, but now I unfriend anyone who spams me. I have a particular dislike of people who arbitrarily stick me in a group in order to send me junk, because even if I delete the message, I keep getting messages as long as anyone in the group responds. Don’t get me wrong — I like getting messages that are sent to me, specifically, and I always respond. I just don’t like anonymity. (If you knew me in offline life, you would be laughing at the irony of such a statement. Offline, I am the epitome of privacy.)

I’m looking forward to taking a step back from online activities. So much of it seems counterproductive, even foolish, that I will be better off working on my poor neglected WIP. At least I will have accomplished something.

Don’t worry, though. I bet none of you will notice any difference. I’ll still be blogging three or four times a week, will keep up with my discussion groups, will respond to genuine messages.

I’ll even tweet. And if I don’t, WordPress will do it for me.

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