Writers’ services are proliferating across the Internet, targeted to both aspiring writers and writers who are self/vanity/POD-published. There are submission services and manuscript display sites; there are book marketing services and electronic press release websites and book review services. Some are free. Some are modestly priced. Some are eye-poppingly expensive. Are they worth it?
Today I got an email from a writer who wanted to know if a service called Bookblaster is likely to be effective. “Picture this,” Bookblaster’s website begins, “…you open your email inbox and there are numerous requests from literary agents and publishers, all wanting to read YOUR manuscript.” And why are you suddenly in so much demand? Because of Bookblaster’s “comprehensive query campaign,” which “can deliver almost instant results.” All you have to do is send Bookblaster your query letter, and they’ll email it to over 350 agents for the low, low fee of $95 (“Finding an agent to represent your novel has never been easier!”), or over 500 agents and publishers for just $145 (“This extensive query campaign represents great value!”).
The fees aren’t terribly high (you might spend that much if you snail mailed that many queries). Bookblaster has compiled agent and publisher contact info so you don’t have to. They even generate the emails from your address, so that agents and publishers can respond directly to you. Happy testimonials from authors suggest that response is swift and enthusiastic.
So why is this not a good idea?
- The first reason’s pretty obvious. The queries are sent out by email, which many agents and publishers don’t want to receive. This is something that’s rapidly changing–I’m guessing that in a few years equeries will be the norm–but as of now, if Bookblaster is contacting reputable people (a big if–see below), most of the contacts will be viewed as spam.
- There’s no information on who runs Bookblaster, or how the agents’ and publishers’ addresses are gathered. So you can’t know whether the service has made any effort to vet its lists to ensure only legitimate agents and publishers will be approached. Odds are that a good number of amateurs and scammers are mixed in. Unlike so many legit agents and publishers, scammers usually don’t have any problem at all with email queries–so if you do hear back from agents and publishers as a result of Bookblaster’s query campaign, guess what kind they’re likely to be.
- There’s nothing on the website about targeting the query campaign to agents and publishers that are appropriate for your book. So a lot of the queries will be going to people who won’t have any interest. Of course, since most of them will be hitting the delete key, this point is probably moot. Still, it’s one more thing to potentially annoy the recipients.
- Did I mention that most of the people who get these queries will regard them as spam? And guess what–since the emails will appear to be coming from you, you’re the one who will get angry requests to be taken off “your” mailing list, and whose ISP will get spam complaints.
As for all those happy authors…note how the many testimonials conveniently leave out important details, such as the names of agents and publishers. Gee. Do you suppose they could all be made up?
There’s a similar service for screenwriters: Scriptblaster. (Why am I thinking of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome?)
Save your money, folks. This one definitely ain’t worth it.