A few weeks ago my Assistant #2, who handles all requests for "Free Stuff" and mails out books, etc., started going crazy with dozens of requests a day. She receives requests on a regular basis, but nothing like what started happening. She wrote me, "What on earth have you been doing? I'm going nuts here."
Me? Hadn't done anything. Yet Sandy was receiving requests from all over the world. Portugal, Russia, Germany, France, and on and on. The English-as-a-second-language emails were quite entertaining at times. But they also were annoying. These people weren't my readers. They couldn't care less what I've written. They just wanted free stuff. One woman requested 200 each of my various bookmarks.
Day after day these requests came. We try to be responsive and patient, but really, this was getting ridiculous. I twittered about my frustration. One fast-thinking follower of mine googled key words like "Brandilyn Collins" and "free" and came up with the errant sites. Yes, plural. Some "free stuff" site had picked up the info off my Web site and run it. Then other sites picked it up. At least then I knew why this was happening. After a week or so it all died down.
Fast forward two weeks. I, not my assistant, started receiving dozens of requests for a signed photo--from people all over the world. Nowhere on my Web site do I offer a signed photo. And on my Free Stuff page, the email link is to my assistant. So somebody had to work particularly hard to "err" on this one. I've googled twice and can't find the culprit. I was hoping, if I found the listing, there would be a place to leave a comment to correct the error. Maybe I just haven't explored long enough or put in the precisely correct key words. At any rate, I'd like to strangle somebody at this point. At the very least, kill 'em off in my next book.
If anybody out there wants to do some private detective work on the 'Net, be my guest. First one to find the offending site(s) will receive a book of his/her choice from me. Not to mention my unending gratitude.
For future record--I do not give away signed T-shirts, hats, sunglasses, shoes, posters, videos, cats, dogs, elephants, lamps, keyboards, telephones, rocks, menus, magazines, candy bars, make-up kits, knives, houses, estates, or planets. Got it?