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 real publisher will touch your manuscript. 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.
And when they noticed that I was going to war with their spam accounts, they hunted down my email and contacted me.
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.
23 thoughts on “InkItt: Spam, Scam, No Thank You, Ma’am”
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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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.)
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Your company spammed me on Fanfiction.net
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Inkitt has no experience in publishing, and definitely no clue what agents do for their 15%. All they know how to do is spam people relentlessly. I’ve reported at least a dozen of their Twitter accounts.
The Bewares and Background Checks forum on Absolutewrite has a thread about them: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?306380-YADS-Inkitt
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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.
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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.
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[…] the problems with Inkitt’s publishing contest and strongly warns writers to steer clear. Rachel Sharp has chimed in with some of the Twitter accounts the company has been using to spam […]
[…] give away their hard work for nothing. (Or worse, the ones asking you to pay to get published, or piss away your first publication rights for a slender chance of the big time and miniscule royalties.) I was disheartened to see a new […]
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Thank you Rachel.
Excellent post. It is always terrible to see when others are being taken for their works and robbed of dreams, being yanked around on a chain with a promise of hope on the horizon. Please keep up the good fight Rachael.
So glad I read your post regarding Inkitt……Like most all writers, I too look for avenues of better success with the books I have written and the ones I have yet to compose. There are so many sites out there and I have seen far too many of them to not check out anyone that comes up on my email/spam/Facebook accounts…..Yes, I would love to see my work/words in better markets, screenplay, etc, and being sold but not at the expense of a maybe somewhat fraudulent group…..I have been asked for extreme amounts of money for marketing and my gut instinct told me to walk away and I have…..Perhaps the right thing will come my way but not with the scamming groups………..Thank you for writing about this…….~B
[…] here’s a link to another great rant about inkitt […]
Spammed by inkitt on Wattpad over here. The creepy thing – VERY creepy – is that their spam account on Wattpad, https://www.wattpad.com/user/writer294 – uses *the same avatar as one of my followers.* Obviously, they scraped my followers for pics to look familiar to me.
Yeah, that’s really bad. Nope nope nopety nope to Inkitt. I reported them to Wattpad.
[…] here’s a link to another great rant about inkitt […]
Now, in 2019, I wonder if you’ve re-evaluated. I began the process f downloading a novel on their platform last year, then changed my mind. I’m an old guy with four novels published by two different publishers, but sales just aren’t happening, despite good reviews on Amazon, so I was considering a different approach. Inkitt still sends a blog to my email about once a month but never harangues me to publish with them, beyond the general implication that it would be wonderful thing for me.
I’m still considering them as an option for my it-doesn’t-really-fit-any-one-genre novel, but it’s difficult to find anything beyond their own blurbs and this commentary. Nothing new?
Hi Rachel…THANK YOU SO MUCH for this revealing post. I was at the brink of submitting my self-published work to Inkitt, which would have been an obvious disaster. A couple of weeks ago (beginning of May 2019) I emailed email@example.com for some guidance but no response to this date – May 22nd. My self-published novel series is being shopped around as a one hour series, and I mentioned this. Yet I keep getting ‘spam’ to submit my manuscript without any requested guidance. But I digress.
Thank you for this reveal. Much success to you in all your endevours.
Just finished reading this. I understand that you find them shady, but your reply to the CEO’s email was cringe-worthy: “First of all, no I’m not giving you my Skype info.” Very unprofessional of you to write like this as a researcher. How do you expect to interview people with such rudeness? Moving forward, do a better job of looking after your image.
I am not a researcher. I am an author who was contacted out of the blue by this CEO. I wasn’t trying to interview anyone. Moving forward, improve your reading comprehension.
I never aspired to write anything much longer than my rent cheque but a story began overriding my brain last year and I felt compelled to write it out and now publish it. I did sign up with Inkitt but as yet have not sent manuscript or money, I am glad I found these statements as I was considering sending in my 101,000 word effort and to have someone else take it and claim it as their own would be devastating. Are there any forums where an author can safely share their works and find a reliable publisher without fear of someone stealing it?
[…] the long-standing among you may remember, I wrote about Inkitt in TWENTY GODDAMN SIXTEEN after they targeted me for an “invitation” using a fictional publishing house account […]