Recently I received an email. It was a request for an autographed book for someone's ailing sister, supposedly one of my "biggest fans." I was very busy this month, so I didn't immediately respond.
But that wasn't the only reason for my hesitation. There were certain things about the email that made me wonder about the sincerity of the request. For one thing, there was no mention of anything in the email that made me think the person in question, or her sister, might truly be familiar with my books. No mention of titles the sister had enjoyed, or indeed, anything specific at all. It felt very generic.
In spite of my reservations, once things had calmed down around here, I responded that yes, I would send a book.
Then I mentioned this request to another writer friend of mine and learned many authors have received the same email from the same person. Today, I did a Google search and discovered that many, many authors have received this email.
However, I also discovered a comment to a blog from the person making the request, stating that she's real and her sister really is ill.
Here's the thing:
While Letter-writing Sister's heart may be in the right place, she's made this request of so many authors, she's made it feel like a scam. Whatever her motive, it sounds as if she's simply found a way to get her sister "free" gifts, exploiting the good will and pocketbooks of authors.
Will I send a book? Yes, but the next time I get such a request, I'll be asking some questions before responding.