Jul 172012
 

Something weird is going on, and I can’t decide if it’s a scam or if people are being given bad advice, or a single agent is behaving oddly.  BookThing has received four review requests in the last few weeks, all in July, and all with exactly the same boilerplate format.  In each of them, the author name, book name, and a few of the words are different, but the overall message is virtually identical.  Each request offers to send out a review copy (in PDF) of the short story (around 8000 words).  Each also includes a link to Image Shack which hosts a picture of the book cover.

Here are three of the e-mails, I’ve taken out the author name, and the book title, but left everything else intact.

Example 1
Hey,

I am [author name removed] and I write Vampire Romance Thrillers
and was wondering if you might be interested to receive a Review
Copy of my new book.

The title is "[title removed]", [series removed] series.

This is a short story of over 8000 words for easy reading.

Even though it's short, I am confident that you will love the 
plot and characters!

Several reviewers have given me rather positive and encouraging 
feedback and I hope you will enjoy it as much as my other 
reviewers!

Here's the awesome book cover:

[url removed]

Thanks for your time.

I would be grateful if you could review my book and post it 
on your blog.

[author name removed]
Example 2
Hey,

This is [author name removed]. I write Fantasy short stories 
and novels and was wondering if you might be interested to 
receive a Review Copy of my new book.

The title is "[title removed]", [series removed] series.

This is a short story of over 8000 words for easy reading 
and won't take much of your time.

Nonetheless, I am confident that you will find the plot and 
characters intriguing!

Some readers have given me encouraging feedback after 
reviewing the book and I hope you will enjoy it as well!

Here's the book cover that I commissioned an artist to design:

[url removed]

Thanks for the time.

I would be truly grateful if you could review my book and post 
it on your blog.

Awaiting your reply!

[author named removed]
Example 3
Hey,

I am [author name removed], a horror thriller writer and was 
wondering if you might be interested to receive a Review Copy 
of my new book.

The title is "[title removed]", [series removed].

This is a story of over 8000 words for easy reading. 
Nonetheless, you will find the plot intriguing and I know you 
will love it!

Here's the book cover:

[url removed]

Thanks for taking time to read this email.

I would be truly grateful if you could review my book 
and post it on your blog.

Hear from you soon!

[author name removed]

As you can see, despite them being subtly different, they’re all the same message, delivered in the same format.  Are other book review blogs getting these?  Other review sites for things other than books getting similar stuff?  I can’t decide if it’s some weird scam, or just some misguided or badly advised authors using a completely generic boilerplate e-mail from some common source.

In any case, it doesn’t increase their chances of having their stuff read, because I trust the PDF’s about as much as I trust a Bond villain.

Lastly, why the magic 8000 words?