Friday, June 8, 2012

When Opportunity Knocks...

I want to share a thing that happened to me this morning...I received a query package in the mail yesterday, and I looked it through and was interested. However, I had some questions, so I sat down this morning and composed an email to the author, outlining my thoughts and framing my questions. It took me about 45 minutes. Then I typed in the author's email address and hit SEND.

Almost instantly a reply flashed back to my email. I opened it up to see a little auto-responder message explaining that this email address was very concerned about spam and had therefore put some filters in place. The message instructed me to click on the link below, complete the form and wait for the verification to come back. Once I had that, it said, I would be free to re-submit my email. Then it ended on the happy note that, once verified, I would be free to send all the mail I wished, etc. etc.

Any guesses on what happened to that query? For those who suggested are spot on! I have no interest in trying to work with an author who throws up all kinds of barricades to communication. None of us like SPAM...I get a ton of it, but I look at it as the price we pay for the many conveniences of email, just DELETE DELETE DELETE!!

In my opinion, this is a very bad idea. Suppose that I gritted my teeth and got my email address verified...what happens the next time, should I used another email address? I'd have to go through that process over and over. What if it was a feature writer for a newspaper, looking to interview? Or the booker on a TV or radio show? Do you seriously think these busy people are going to stop and fill out these little forms and get verified? I am betting NOT!

I sincerely hope that any of you who are blocking legitimate sends so you can avoid seeing SPAM mails will rethink this. As the saying goes, "if you want to make an omelet, you gotta break some eggs" ...

 Billie Johnson, Publisher


Radine Trees Nehring said...

I have run into that "fill out the form" spam issue just once, and also found it a "testy" experience.

But . . . another difficulty I have is dealing with the captcha (how DO you spell that) tests like I see below. I usually THINK I can figure them out but seems to me they have gotten more difficult lately, with sometimes tiny letters almost hidden between others. When I first began confronting captchas I wrote the test words down, thinking it would be fun to construct a code language with them. There were no partly concealed letters in any I saved back then.

Okay, if this gets through, you'll know I passed the test, filled out the forms, and commented successfully.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Oh, Radine, I was just going to say the same thing about the Captchas. I hate those things and when I'm on a blog tour I hope that the blogs I'm visiting don't have the. The keep people from commenting.

Shalanna said...

Oh, Billie, my heart breaks for that author who was probably not thinking when she did this! Had I not gotten your e-mail, I would not have found out about NICE WORK winning the contest, and we would not be in the process of preparing for my mystery debut!

Of course it is not your fault or your problem. I agree with you that the author was unwise and should not have done this. I keep several e-mail addresses just so that I can sort out incoming information; I run two writing-related lists and am on a couple of Mensa loops. But I don't have that sort of auto-responder and never would. (For one thing, it tells the sender of true spam that you ARE there at that address! Best to just let the spam fall where it may so that people don't know your address is a "good" one.)

Still can't help feeling bad for the writer missing out, but this should be a lesson to him or her.

Radine--I am the WORST at "Captcha" stuff. I have a slight visual field defect and difficulty with screens as it is, and so I often misinterpret these things and have to re-do them. I thank the Lord that I can still spot a typo or bad punctuation at 150 feet, though! LOL

I know that my Blogspot blogs have some verification on them, but it's not anything I can control. My LiveJournal personal blog doesn't have anything like that, and I seem to get more comments. So Marilyn is right--it might be keeping people from commenting.

I note that if I am logged in with my Google account, I don't always get challenged with a "Captcha." The other day I clicked on the "sound" icon just to see how you'd pronounce "IBDGLOFR" and the computer speaker started talking in Martian. Hubby spun around and asked, "WHAT the deuce is that?" We didn't know. It could have been aliens hijacking the Captcha. I am afraid to click on the "listen" buttons now.

Beryl Reichenberg said...

A good spam filter on your computer would also keep unwanted emails at bay. I check both my incoming mail and Junk files. I usually trash all the junk messages but sometimes not. It does take a bit of time, so I agree it's better to let people get ahold of you and take the extra time. Of course, now that I am on Facebook and Linkedin, I do see more junk mail! Beryl

Doug Danielson said...

I use Yahoo’s spam filter, which can be adjusted for what I want to let through. Regardless, I still check the Spam folder each time I sign on; just to be sure I don’t miss something important. The internet is too great of a communication tool to throw up roadblocks and limit your accessibility.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I totally agree with the disdain for that Captcha gizmo too. If I could eliminate it here, I would.

I think the big thing that amazes me about SPAM is that it must pay off for the spammers and that is sad. As unbelievable as it seems that someone would believe there is a guy in Nigeria just waiting to give me 5 million dollars, I think we can be sure that enough people buy into that possibility to make it worthwhile for the spammer to do it. And this is tragic because you know most likely the takers are probably those low-information people who can least afford to lose.

But for us, I sincerely believe that an attitude of exclusivity will not be helpful. Considering that we all spend a great deal of time and energy getting our message out, we should certainly be prepared to receive responses.

Maybe some brilliant, innovative person will invent a new technique to manage this situation...I hope so! But until then, we need to be available!


William Doonan said...

The vast majority of my e-mail is from overseas pharmacies offering viagra or xanax. But I'm willing to wade through it to get to the occasional gem. On the bright side, I've learned a hell of a lot about aftermarket pharmaceuticals.

William Doonan

Sunny Frazier said...

One shot. That's all you get with me. If I can't get a message through to you or if my comment won't take, I move on. Too much on my plate to deal with this nonsense. Too many other authors waiting in the wings to mess with the one who wants to block me out.

Often Billie will ask me to track down an author. For her, I'll go the distance. I have lots of experience from my past of tracking down drug dealers in unorthodox methods. But, it would make our lives easier if authors had an accessible website with contact info and an email addy with their name, not some ditzy title like ""

You want to make our job difficult? You just lost your chance at a career.

Kit Sloane said...

All these problems with email and spam, etc., remind me of the old days when there were just as many problems with communicating, but they took different forms. Infamously, there was the agent who directed that if you spelled her name wrong on the envelope, she's dump your manuscript (carefully copied at the copymat, with postage and SASE enclosed--more $$$) in the trash right then and there. Lots of us remember her fondly...

I think a little effort and courtesy is in order as people work on making the new forms of communicating work for them and us. Perhaps mention these problems in the submission data??? I don't think people realize the difficulties they can make in getting in touch.


Anonymous said...

Many of these "click on the link to proceed" messages are actually spam, which is why it's good not to click. I opened a message marked "FedEx--Get a package" and unleased a virus! Plenty of security, anti-virus and firewall packages are available for PC protection. People who feel they need "stop and identify yourself" messages are just paranoid.
Sally Carpenter

Augie said...

That's really too bad for the writer, but Sunny I totally understand, I hate those captchas, sometimes it takes 2-3 tries to interpret those letters, the numbers are easier (or I could had made a mistake there too), anyhoos I tried using the voice, but heck I could not understand what it said...todays technology could be tomorrows headache.