InkItt: Spam, Scam, No Thank You, Ma’am

Authors are hopeful creatures. Our industry is rough, we all get rejected at least once (and usually more like a hundred times), and sometimes we’re left sitting there with 80,000 words of our soul, wondering if anyone is ever going to love us.

This is why I DESPISE spammy and scammy publishers. Trying to scavenge the living bones of an author’s hopes, dreams, and hard work is fucking low.

And today, they went after me.

Unfortunately for them, I am not desperate. In fact, I have a lot of fight left in me. I’ve got two novels out, one more coming from a medium-sized publishing house in the Fall, and one currently in progress. I’m in the relatively privileged position to tell these vultures where to stick their “chance at an offer of publication.”

So, let’s talk about InkItt.

First of all, what’s wrong with it? Well, the good news is, they don’t seem to be straight-up asking for money, unlike the usual vanity publishing scams. The bad news is, to “submit to their contest,” the thing they’re spamming you to get you to do, you have to publish on their site. There go your first publication rights. Now no normal publisher will touch your manuscript, because it’s already been published. The contests offer (very) small prizes and a chance to get shopped around to real publishers…which is the job of an agent, not a publishing house.

And then there’s the spam.

This morning, they tweeted at me from one of literally dozens of their accounts.

No legitimate publisher will EVER tweet at you out of the blue with an offer. That is not a thing.

I responded, more or less telling them to piss off. They immediately deleted the tweet. But they continue to go after people (alphabetically, no less) who tweet about writing, giving each one the same canned ‘inquiry.’ I replied to each one of those, warning the recipient that InkItt is a gross scam. They’ll probably block me soon.

Then I searched “InkItt” on Twitter, and started reporting ALL of their accounts for spam, because they are, and I am vengeful.

inkitt

And when they noticed that I was going to war with their spam accounts, they hunted down my email and contacted me.

inkittemail

At time of writing, they had stopped responding. So. That went well.

If any “publisher” is spamming you like this, report them. They can’t dupe you, but the next author might be more desperate or less informed about scavengers.

Stay savvy, folks.

 

Update: Though I did not reach out to InkItt for comment, they have insisted on giving it to me at length anyway, contacting me by Twitter, email, attempted phone call, Twitter again, and finally here in the comments section. I’ve let their comment stand. You may notice that it in no way addresses their use of dozens of spambots, nor does it resemble anything so much as a copypasta press release. I remain unimpressed. Hopefully, InkItt will have a glance over the comments left here by other authors, also severely unimpressed, and reconsider their awful business. I hear garbage collection is a nice line of work. Maybe they should try that.

Update 2.0: I originally listed thirty or so accounts that Inkitt used to spam people, but they have since all been deleted. Possibly because people reported them for spam. If you search Twitter for Inkitt, though, you will still find two things: spam, and people who signed up with Inkitt trying desperately to get views for their “contest.” Don’t be one of those people. You and your book are too valuable for that.

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10 thoughts on “InkItt: Spam, Scam, No Thank You, Ma’am

  1. Hi Rachel,

    Ali from Inkitt here again. Since you didn’t want to speak with me, I’m writing here.

    My co-founder Linda and I built Inkitt because we believe every author should have an equal opportunity at having their voice heard. We feel that our writing contests allow for this to happen.

    At Inkitt, we put the power in readers’ hands to determine what content is most interesting to them. Our algorithms track reader engagement and identify the most compelling content that we seek to get published.

    Our writing contests offer authors the chance to win publishing deals, either through traditional publishing houses or our platform where we combine it with an in-house marketing campaign and guarantee that if we’re not able to sell at least 1k copies within a year, we’ll give you all the rights back if you’re not happy with our performance. Inkitt takes a 15% commission on every publishing deal we license to other publishing houses (like an agent) and 50% if we run a marketing campaign and publish it ourselves. Both numbers are based on industry standards.

    We believe that our publishing approach has the potential to positively impact the current selection process in the publishing industry.

    Our terms are transparent; our contest is free to enter for all authors who may have a novel ready. We invite authors to submit to the contest, so that they can have a chance of having their work read and assessed by readers and by publishing professionals. The messages that our social media team send to authors are by no means spam, and if an author wishes to reply to the message, they are, again, answered by one of our staff.

    As a new company, we have utilized various ways to reach new authors, and twitter and other social media platforms are one of them. However, I do understand your concern, and I do apologize if you received an unwanted message from us.

    We are a very tight-knit community of new writers, publishing professionals, readers, academic professors and of course a team of very enthusiastic staff members who want to do things differently and change the way that A-list publishers and agents have dealt with rejections. We believe that every voice needs to be heard, and we believe that our platform is a fair and straightforward one. If you would like to know more about Inkitt from credible sources, feel free to take a look at these links:

    The Bookseller: Startup of the week – Inkitt
    http://www.thebookseller.com/futurebook/startup-week-inkitt-324342

    Bustle: Book Selected By Computer Algorithm To Be Published By Inkitt And Tor http://www.bustle.com/articles/158340-book-selected-by-computer-algorithm-to-be-published-by-inkitt-and-tor

    Minnesota Public Radio: Can a computer identify a bestselling book? http://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/05/03/books-can-a-computer-pick-a-bestseller

    Please find more here: https://www.inkitt.com/press

    Hope this helps clarify a few items and always available to continue the conversation at ali@inkitt.com.

    Best,
    Ali

    Like

    1. I have approved your comment despite the fact that it addresses exactly none of the issues discussed in this blog post.
      So far, you have messaged me on Twitter, by email, tried to get my phone number or Skype, and commented on my blog. Each time I ask you to address your use of spam accounts, you ignore the question and contact me on a new platform.
      Feel free to stop contacting me at any time.

      Like

  2. You’ve given a long, canned response, but fail to address Rachel’s main complaint: the endless spam from dozens of robot accounts.

    InkItt might be a great program, but I’ll never know because I’m not going to give it a chance because of the tactics you’ve decided to use to try garnering attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I got one of your bullshit spammy out-of-the-blue messages, too. Quote: “Hi Wendy, I’d love to see your unpublished manuscript in our contest: inkitt.com/grand?utm_sour… Hope to see you there! /Linda” from the @Splendigi account. This, despite the fact that I have not ever mentioned having an “unpublished manuscript” on twitter, nor have even mentioned recently that I am working on writing anything specific. Yes, I am a writer. However, I will not EVER work with someone who contacts me the way your company did. It’s completely unprofessional, frankly worse than a cold call, because it was even more impersonal. It feels creepy and stalkerish to think you’re just cruising twitter, looking for anyone who identifies as a writer. It IS predatory, and if you ARE a legit business, you need to rethink the way you contact people, because this is NOT IT.

    I reported you for spam, too, by the way. The only thing I hate more than spammers is telemarketers; and I keep a referee’s whistle by the phone for them. (A gift from my husband, who knows me.)

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I first noticed these folks when Kate Elliott retweeted one of their SFF contest spams. TBH I don’t think she knew they were spammers. I see no evidence they know what they’re doing beyond taking first rights and offering vague promises of publication…and seriously irritating the rest of us.

    They’re claiming to solve the problem of mass rejections in the commercial publishing industry. That’s not a problem, just a symptom of too many people writing very badly. I’ve read slushpiles for small presses and agents: most of what comes in is not and probably never will be ready for publication.

    Perhaps Inkitt’s ‘community’ can help writers improve…but at the cost of losing first rights with stronger publishers.

    Let’s address the spam issue: I’m in marketing. Have been for years. I keep up with how marketing changes propagate through different industries. Modern marketing pros know that unrelenting, no-value-added spam dilutes trust in a brand and perceptions of its worth. Especially if it appears to come from multiple sockpuppet accounts. Where’d Inkitt learn SEO from, 2005?

    When I looked at Inkitt with some fairly serious internet analytical tools, I found a company that appeared very strongly to be farming links, likes, and follows for its own advertising income. With actual publication and writer promotion a distant second, if not an afterthought. If I’m wrong, sorry… but that’s how it looks from outside.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I spent a few minutes reporting their various accounts, but they have so many that the list grows (much) faster than I can keep up with. They clearly have bots at work.

    Liked by 2 people

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