Bots, Reviews, and Scams

Like any wannabe writer (oh hey, that’s in the name of my genealogy blog *wink*), I post a great deal to some social media sites. I have an author page set up on Facebook, of course, and I use Instagram a great deal. I use them in hopes that interest will be drummed up for my books and my writings. So far, it’s not been that fruitful, but I still enjoy the musings I post nevertheless, especially on my Instagram. Some of those posts actually make it into posts on this blog as well, so there is that.

What both annoys me and humors me at the same time are the bots. They are relentless.

I use hashtags a great deal and am still learning how to use them effectively, since the Instagram stuff is still fairly new to me. Of course, I always try to utilize a number of tags because, well, the whole trying to get the word out about my writing thing needs to happen. In doing so, I encounter a ton of bots that suggest I promote my stuff to a certain page or direct message other pages that I have no interest even following. Sometimes, they’re quite humorous because they tell me to promote to pages that have no bearing on what I actually posted (like telling me to post a photo of a bracelet I made to a writing IG just because I used hashtags for writing on it).

Above is the original post on Instagram…..
Image depicts several bots stating "Promote it on heaven on author" or "the writers warmth" when the caption reads that I saved the alphabet beads from an old broken bracelet and made a new one about love.
Screenshot I took of the comments that were left that I have since deleted….

I could, of course, turn off commenting on my Instagram posts. It would save me some of the hassle. But I do enjoy the occasional comment I get from a real person on my feed. So I leave the option open.

At first, I tried to engage the bots, and found myself talking to brick walls, as the saying goes. So now I simply delete every comment that comes from a bot, taking a somewhat sadistic joy in that little action. But, I find the humor in them nevertheless. They make me crack up. Especially the ones that literally comment two seconds AFTER I post the pictures.

Then there is my Facebook page.

I post sometimes to “Promote your book” groups as my author persona, especially when I am running deals on my books I think others might want to check out. I’m aware that some of these groups are full of spammers, but I am ever optimistic that one day I’ll get some hits from it. So I continue to post on them.

Occasionally, I get messages like these (and yes, I did make sure to edit out the person’s name likeness…. I believe that even they have the right to anonymity and privacy):

Image is of a text conversation on Facebook Messenger between a bot and myself:
Other person: Hi.  
Me: Hello.  How may I help you? 
Other person: Hi. Do you need verifies five star reviews, rating and increase your sales rank on amazon please knock me for more details. Thanks. Name colored out for anonymity.  
Me: No thank you.  I'd rather have people read my books and leave reviews because they want to rather than because the are being paid to do so.
Screenshot of an actual conversation via Facebook Messenger

I often use the same message over and over…. Copy and paste is my friend, especially when dealing with bots. I have a few variations going, but they all get copied and pasted as needed.

Just like I will never pay for a promotion on some IG page or pay something a bot there tells me to pay, I will never pay for reviews. I will give a free book on occasion to people who are interested in reviewing it for me, but that’s as far as I will go. I would rather have an honest review from a friend or someone who wanted to read my book than a paid dishonest review.

I have been scammed by a couple entities in the past when I wasn’t savvy enough to know better. I went with a print on demand company for a book I wrote long ago that then kept the publishing rights of the book because I refused to pay them an exorbitant fee when I had no money. That company has since went out of business, taking the book’s rights with them for now. But I do cringe so much reading my author copy of that book that I am thinking I may one day just re-write the entire thing and publish it under a different name. For now….it remains where it is.

I then paid for an “agent” from an “agency” in my early days that did little more than spam me for more and more money after taking seventy dollars from me for a “detailed review” of my work that I have since learned publishing agents should do for free.

Both of these was happened when I was younger and naïve. Both of these are some of the reasons I do the self-publishing route these days instead of trying to find a more traditional route.

Thankfully, both of these experiences have opened my eyes to some of the scamming that goes on in the fringes of the publishing world. I have learned to read offers that sound “too good to be true” as scams. In terms of unsolicited messages from bots, I’ve learned to figure quickly if they are indeed a bot versus a real person wanting to engage about my books, especially if I answer back with the no thanks and they don’t respond.

Writing friends, here’s a hint – If you have to pay more than the cost of a copy of your book to have your book published/reviewed/get an agent/etc. then you are being scammed. Don’t fall for it. Writing is hard enough work as it is, and these kinds of people take advantage of those who are hopeful they will get rich quick and that makes them easy prey.

Reader friends, consider helping writers out so that the bots become less of an issue to them. Leave honest reviews of their works on sites that are visible for books you’ve read. I know it can be difficult to write a glorified “book report.” It’s hard for me to review others’ work sometimes too, but I genuinely try to do so for every book I read these days. It does help them out so they don’t have to resort to bots to generate reviews, which generate in turn helps generate sales. And my Kindle does help in that respect, for it offers me the chance to leave a review on both Amazon and Goodreads when I am done reading a book via that platform.

And I do those reviews with some joy too, for the most part, since I know they will help others. As for myself, I keep on pushing on, writing my stories on paper just as I continue to stay magical and write my own story. I hope you all continue to do the same.

If you liked this blog post and wanted to see some of the fantasy works I have written, check out my Portals Series.

If you are interested in my other online endeavors, check out the drop down menu above to see more.

And as always, #writeyourownstory

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