I make no secret that I get a variety of emails and phone calls from various groups regarding their desires to sell me services for my books. Oftentimes it is that they want me to pay to be included in a book fair or they want me to purchase their marketing package to help promote my books' sales. I have gotten a few that were more egregious like the time someone asked me for $13,000 to turn my book into a movie idea.
I did not follow through with any of these agreements for a number of reasons.
After researching many of these groups and running across little information about them and what I did find not being positive, I started cataloging my contacts with them in a blog post, you can read it here. Given that the calls and emails kept coming, I migrated the information from that original blog post to a dedicated page on my website (found here).
And being a member of multiple social media groups, I've tried sharing this information out to other authors who may also be getting contacted by these groups. Given the lack of information about them online, the missing or poor ratings with the BBB, and a host of other red flags that suggest they may not be the best groups to work with in these matters, I feel a sense of duty to make the details of my encounters available for others to find in their research and to advertise as a warning for others who might not have thought to do that research otherwise.
My blog posts and web pages have seen some good traffic and I have even gotten a few comments from others on the pages. My website also offers a contact form where anyone can shoot me an email with whatever information they choose to share basically. One such email in early 2022 came from "J Doe", the name I've chosen to protect this person's identity. J Doe shared a gut-wrenching story about their involvement with New Reader Magazine, the same group on my pages that I listed as asking me for $13,000 to turn my book into a movie.
J Doe and I exchanged a number of emails over the next several days as J Doe provided me with screenshots of text messages and copies of emails that had been exchanged with the different people involved. I took the details of J Doe's encounter and turned into a new blog post with J Doe's permission and approval of the blog's content to ensure that it accurately portrayed the series of events. (You can check out J Doe's story here).
My odd encounter was not with J Doe or any of the groups that typically deploy cold call sales techniques to try and get me to buy anything. No, my odd encounter came in the form of an email generated to me through my website.
Shortly after posting the J Doe story, my inbox lit up with a new message. It had all of the usual stuff like a name, an email address, and even a phone number. The message itself vaguely recounted a similar experience to what I and J Doe had with New Reader Magazine. There were certain details included in the message regarding this author's experience but not enough for me to feel comfortable moving forward with any type of post or comments regarding it.
I quickly replied back to the address in question and asked if the author could send me any documentation to support their claims, something J Doe had done prior to me publishing that post. For me, I want to have documentation that backs up any claims regarding these groups that I make on my social media or website, mainly to avoid any legal issues but to also have as backup if anyone should question the validity of the posts.
Well, days went by, weeks in fact, and I never heard a reply from the author. I thought that was a little strange that someone would feel the issue was important enough to reach out to me with the information they did but not important enough to follow up on it after roughly 3 weeks.
Not ready to call it quits, I send the author's email address another message to let them know that I was still interested in sharing their story provided that they can share with me some additional details and any supporting documentation to support their claims.
That was mid-July.
Fast forward to late-August and this is where the odd truly happens.
I finally get a reply but not the one I was expecting. Instead of getting the information I had requested or even a "no thank you. I've changed my mind," type reply, I get an email, from the same address mind you, that now has a different name associated with the address. The new name is claiming to be the spouse of the author who tells me the author died in 2018. Not only that, the spouse flat out says that the information I had originally received is 100% not true.
If this person died in 2018 then who sent me that email? Why send me an email using a dead person's name and email address with a fake story? It makes no sense to me. Who would do that and why?
I replied back to the address offering my condolences and apologies for any inconvenience or emotional distress my emails may have caused. I can't for the life of me fathom why someone would do such a thing but it sure strikes me as odd, hence this post's name.
Despite this, I will continue to catalog my experiences with these groups as I always have. And if anyone else comes forward as J Doe did and wants me to share their story, I'm open to doing that, provided that they can substantiate their claims and are willing to provide me that information for my own protection.