Monday, September 14, 2015

Beware the Blog Leeches, Barnes & Noble Issues, and Japanese Book Chain Defies Amazon

Beware the Blog Leeches

After blogging for 10 & 1/2 years, I’ve seen my share of trolls, flaming, and bloggers behaving badly. I’ve also witnessed leeches - people who attach themselves to you for selfish reasons. They can even come off a super nice, but they’re still out to get something for themselves.

Who are these leeches?

Those who follow just to get you to follow back. They follow just to build up their own following, not necessarily because they want to interact with you. Sometimes they will unfollow you not long afterwards. (Just like on Twitter.)

Those who comment just to get you to visit them. Those people are usually all about the hits. Sometimes it’s just to get more comments, but usually they just want that hit counter to go higher. (So if you see a hit counter near the top, you know that’s what they are most proud of.) Blogging is all about being social though. It’s about interacting. And hits don’t add up to interacting.

Those who comment enough to get listed in your sidebar. They will visit for a while. Most of us have a blog roll in our sidebar where will list regulars. At some point, these people no longer become regular. They might stop by once a month, but that’s it. They’ve achieved their goal already - listed in your sidebar, you’ve added to the search engine fodder for their site and given them free advertising. (Which is why it’s a good idea to go through your blog roll and see who really is visiting you on a regular basis.)

Those who comment or follow just to get you to feature them. Again, blogging is social media. You need a relationship with a blogger before you can ask for a feature. Even with book bloggers, you should be following the site and commenting sometimes before asking for a review or feature. Someone who follows and then immediately asks for a feature isn’t interested in a relationship. They just want a quick and easy way to hock themselves and their stuff.

Those who comment just to get a rise out of you. These people leech the joy out of blogging. They feed on negative energy and get a kick out of starting something bad. Those are the people we just need to ignore.

Been visited by any of these leeches lately? Ever guilty of being a leech?

Industry news:

From The Digital Reader - B&N Says it is (Still) “Considering” Smaller Stores, But is Actually Closing Stores
"In the past 17 months B&N had announced the opening of a single store, and closed at least a dozen.
B&N said they are considering smaller stores, but what they're actually doing is shuttering stores right and left. And that is the real story here, not that a "book retailer considers new store prototype".
Actions speak louder than words, which is why you should look at what someone is doing rather than what they are saying.
Never mind what B&N says in interviews; their real plan is to cut unprofitable stores. They accidentally revealed that plan in January 2013, and have been implementing it ever since."

And on the heels of that news - The Digital Reader reports that B&N revenues are down in the last quarter, even as losses shrink. Not good!

From Publishing Perspective - To Defy Amazon, Kinokuniya Corners the Market on New Murakami
"Kinokuniya, the largest bookstore chain in Japan, has announced that it will snap up 90% of initial print run of Haruki Murakami’s latest title to sell at brick-and-mortar stores and make sure that customers who want to purchase the book will have to go to an actual physical bookstore. It is a move largely seen as a way to stall purchases through Amazon."

Thank you to everyone who commented on my post at The Insecure Writer’s Support Group last week, EPub Formatting and Beyond.

Does that news about B&N surprise you? What do you think of Kinokuniya's attempt?


  1. I'd have to say I'm not surprised at the news about B&N. The town I'm from is small by the standards of say Atlanta and it's sad to think that areas like that could lose their bookstores. There's just something about walking into a bookstore that I'm afraid the younger generation will never experience.

  2. Hi Diane - I'm quite careful about followers and following, and insincere comments - I definitely don't just follow along ... because frankly you've expressed the irrationality of these leeches - they're not helpful. I also don't reply to silly comments and will delete if and when necessary ...

    Cheers Hilary

  3. I've had those blog leeches. (I do like that term!) I rarely get people trying to get a rise out of me, but I get those that comment with something that has absolutely nothing to do with the post at all. The B&N news doesn't surprise me. The store in our town has more products that aren't books and I think that's the only reason it's still in business.

  4. I've had people follow me just to get a feature.
    Barnes and Noble is in trouble.

  5. Diane, I haven't given this much thought. I have the normal faces who comment on my blog but not a lot of new traffic. I've only been posting once a week and took most of the summer off. Just getting back up and running these days.

    And yeah, B&N is in trouble. Hope they get it together and go with smaller stores.

  6. I've seen followers doing this too. What is most annoying is when a blogger hardly gets comments on their blog and I follow to support them, but then they stop visiting my blog. At some point, I stop following them because I don't have the time for that.

    And yes, it looks like Barnes and Noble is having troubles. Who would have thought this when they and Borders were so strong. It's sad.

  7. I've probably had leeches, but I haven't noticed them. It's too much work. ;)

  8. Yep. I've been visited by leeches. They just don't get what blogging is supposed to be about.

  9. Yep. I've been visited by leeches. They just don't get what blogging is supposed to be about.

  10. I'm new on Twitter so I've been surprised at how many (nearly all) people follow me, and don't retweet or favorite anything of mine. Ever. Most I follow back but some I don't and recently a lot of those people have unfollowed me. All they wanted was a follow back and when I didn't give it to them, they weren't happy. Not cool. I do unfollow people, we all do, but this sort of thing is all about numbers and it's annoying.

    Sad that Barnes & Noble is closing more stores before I even have a print book on one of their shelves! :p

  11. I've seen blogging leeches come and go over my 10 years doing this too, although I don't see them nearly as often. Most of the leeches I have had were the ones who would comment, and it'd be obvious they didn't read my post, so I would visit their site and take the time to read THEIR content and leave my own comment. But like I said, I'm not seeing too much of that these days.

    Oh wow. I forgot I had a counter at the very bottom of my blog!!!

    B&N is a sinking ship. We've known that for a long time. Every time I go in one, I"m saddened by two things: how empty the place is and how most of the stuff they're selling aren't books.

  12. Hilary, I've had to delete a few comments.

    Christine, feel free to use that term.

    Natalie, obviously that's why they don't get a lot of comments.

    Chrys, and numbers aren't everything.

    Jay - LOL!

  13. I don't have issues with people who follow to get a return follow. I do that all the time. Actually, not any more. But that IS the only way to build a following. Yet people no longer seem to understand that it's proper etiquette to return a follow. They just expect you'll benefit greatly from following their wonderful blog. That's what annoys me. Leeches are getting worse and worse, Diane.

    Have a great week.

  14. I read in Forbes that one of the businesses doing very well and on the rise is the independent bookstore. The pendulum keeps swinging and B & N are feeling the swish as it goes past.

    I've had a couple of people who visited with "great post" and "thanks for sharing" comments that really meant they hadn't bothered to read what was posted. I usually ignore them and visit those who've engaged with me and not only write interesting material but also are ready to help others when they need it.

  15. I've never really looked at it like they're 'leeching' or 'tagging' onto me, but you are totally correct. This is one reason Twitter and FB are starting to irritate me. If one more person tags me in a picture of some product they're selling I'm going to write up a major 'DO NOT FRIEND ME IF YOU...' disclosure. I'm not perfect, but I honestly have never thought of becoming cyber friends with someone to get something from them (other than friendship, of course.) And blogs I visit...I do so because I'm interested in what they have to say.

  16. Sadly, I think most of my blog's followers are are my Twitter followers. I'm just a leech magnet, I guess!! Luckily I have faithful blogging friends like you to remind me that there are more than just leeches out there :-)!!

  17. On the blogging issue Diane, I have a few regulars the rest I never hear from.

  18. First of all, ten and a half years is an impressive run. :)

    I've seen a few leeches in my time, usually the people who comment something nonspecific so I'll visit back, although once there was one person who asked "what it took" to get featured on my blog roll, kind of joking but not really. It seems that in social media, like real life, there are some people who just want to be popular.

  19. I have those kind of leech-types on Twitter who follow me just to try and get me to follow back, then disappear within a day.

    And I just moved to a town where there actually is Barnes & Noble. I sure hope it won't be closing any time soon.

  20. No leeches that I can see, but more than a year ago I checked a file I guess could be called spam.
    Someone from Russia no less, had sent me of over 50 responses to my blogs. They made no sense.
    I haven't checked since I've gotten back on. I probably should.

  21. I encountered a blog leech once. I'd commented on her blog fairly regularly, but the person responded a few times, then disappeared completely from my blog. It took me a while to catch on and I commented for months, eventually dropping off as the blog changed and didn't hold my interest as much (no longer a reading/writing focus). More months passed and I got a nasty email demanding to know why I wasn't commenting and tweeting her posts and promoting her in any way I could. I didn't respond. still think it was very strange as it had been almost 2 years since she'd visited me.

  22. I've noticed it more on Twitter and Facebook than the blog. I get so few new followers or new commenters these days I think I've dropped off the blogging radar. A few leeches would be a welcome diversion lol. I'm not at all surprised by Barnes and Noble. If be more surprised if they were doing as well as they like to claim.

  23. I'm not at all surprised by Barnes and Noble. It's a shame that brick and mortar stores are becoming fewer and fewer. How I love browsing with no particular focus. Hmmm. leaches I agree are more on Twitter than anywhere. I'm not a big Twitter user and find it very hard to keep up with all the social media that I've take a bit of a step back.

  24. Your title caught me. Had to check it out even though I'm around the blogsphere less at the moment (busy busy). The term leech is appropriate. Most of them are somewhat easy to spot to us old timers (ie, those of us who have been blogging for years)but in the early days I got burned by quite a few of them. Sigh. Numbers don't mean anything if there isn't any real connection/relationship.

  25. B&N seems to be sailing their ship toward the rocks. Hopefully the news that independents are growing/staying strong is true. Hate to see bookstores of any kind close.

  26. Interesting. I suppose by those standards, I might have some leech moments. Thanks to CommentLuv, when someone comments on my blog, they can leave me a link to their latest. And I nearly always end up clicking on that. And yes, I tend to leave a comment. (Oh look, it's happening RIGHT HERE AND NOW!) But, in some cases, the person then visits my next post and comments, and then I end up at their next post. And it becomes more like the way letter writing once was- someone wrote, you wrote back, and the cycle went on. There's probably some other ways to make connections with fellow bloggers. I'm sure I'm doing it all wrong! After all, eventually those same people stop responding. I assumed it was because one of us hadn't posted in a few days. But maybe it's just because of your leech theory? No idea. Either way, I'm grateful for the short interaction.

    As far as a plan to "cut unprofitable stores," isn't that how retail shops usually stay in business? Which is why Amazon is hard to compete with- they don't have the overhead of "real stores."

    As for Kinokuniya, I don't have enough information to form a valid opinion. How difficult is it to get to a physical bookstore in Japan? I imagine this to be a bigger issue in the rural areas than, say, center city Tokyo.

  27. Diane, can I share the part about the leeches on my blogging class blog? [www blog scouts (dot) tips] It's too good and I know students new to blogging will really appreciate it. I had not realized that I am following 400 blogs on wordpress and most emails I do delete, I do read and comment or like MANY but honestly, it's not honest. Some I will read every time.
    I guess when I started blogging regularly in 2009, I knew so little about blogging, I taught myself.
    Now that I read this, I really need to watch who I follow and not follow blogs I won't read.
    Thank you! It's a wake up call!

  28. Just to get a rise out of you?? Really?!? That's lame! I have had some take me off Twitter because I won't Follow back but come on...their sites are just sales of some sort and they clog your feed!

  29. Good advice L Diane. The worst part of the comment leechers is they get mad when people realize the tactic doesn't work. Eventually these tactics fail and they have to try reality.

  30. I've had several people follow, comment once--and I've commented back--and never visit again. They think people will keep reading their posts without reciprocation. I think it's lazy blogging. People used to think that if you built a blog, people would automatically come, but it's not easy like that.

  31. I do sometimes feel convicted for not being a regular visitor of blogs. I sure hope I never appeared as a leech! I have been blessed that I have not experienced negative comments although I have experienced comments that have had nothing to do with my post. For me, it is not about the numbers, it is about the relationships (and know I could still get better at creating a system to build those relationships).

  32. Robyn, that does seem to be the trend.

    Lee, that's a good policy.

    JE, those random comments annoy me.

    Leigh, they were desperate.

    Jemi, that is just rude. I can't believe she sent you an email.

    Lynda, no they don't.

    J Lenni, you're doing it right. But when they stop visiting altogether, you have to wonder.

    Trace, yes, feel free to share this!

    Medeia, it is lazy blogging.

    Lynn, you are not a leech.

  33. I love your term- blog leeches. I've had some really awful experiences with one particular, really nasty blog comment follower. This person follows me and when I leave comments she writes something false and mean about me in the next comment. I've had blogging friends contact me to let me know. I thought she stopped, but now she just quit using my exact name, but writes enough so that if people know me then they know she is referring to me. She is obsessed and I go back and forth between laughing it off as some crazed obsessed stalker to getting truly concerned that she might actually be dangerous. I mean this has been going on for years, so part of me assumes if she was going to cause me any real harm she would have done it by now. I recently discovered that she follows my reviews on Amazon and leaves negative comments about my reviews. Amazon and most blog buddies and other forums have been really good about removing her comments as they have nothing to do with the subject matter .
    As for blog commenter leeches who follow my blog and then disappear, I notice this all the time. I try to remember that I can't always comment on blogs. I tend to continue following those I enjoy reading and people I've connected with on a personal level. I also try to always visit the blogs of those who visit mine. It is frustrating on Twitter. I notice a jump in followers and then I look at their profile and find dozens of eggheads and also a lot of people who follow in hopes of a follow back and then they unfollow . That drives me insane. Why follow me and turn around and unfollow. I guess,like you said, they only want to increase their numbers. I quit caring about numbers a long time ago. It's all about the interaction for me. This was a great post, very enlightening. Leeches! Love the name and it so accurately depicts what they are.

  34. Thanks to all the comments and thanks Diane, I will repost this!

  35. Actually I think the bookstores may have hurt themselves by going so big. For years smaller chain bookstores seemed to work fine in malls and such, but I don't know that a book business is supportable in the big box format. Books-a-Million maybe can do it in some places, but still I never have seen huge traffic in those big bookstores. The loss of bookstores has been a sad and somewhat disturbing trend.

    I have probably come off as a "blog leech" at times if I go by some of the criteria that you suggest. I hope not, but I have done some of those things you mention.

    The follow me/follow you I don't mind except when the unfollowing happens. That's something I don't do unless someone has done it to me and this is only on Twitter mostly and sometime with Wordpress. Otherwise I'm not sure how to "Unfollow" people.

    Visiting for comments is just part of networking I think, but if it is done solely for selfish reasons and not for relationships that I think that is wrong. My reciprocated visiting may not always come right away, but this also is part of the problems in blogging that I've expressed at my own site on occasion. Time is so limited and social blogging requires such a big investment in time that it becomes a real quandary as to how to blog best and avoid coming off as an insensitive blogger.

    I don't get too much of the negative energy thing in my own blog comments and I try to leave comments that are friendly and positive. I agree that those bloggers who are on the attack, who are rude, or who infuse a lot of negativity into the world are stealing the joy from the rest of us. There are also bloggers who post that way and I find that to be a real turn off.

    Good food for thought.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

  36. Blog leeches -- awesome. I feel like one sometimes, when I'm feeling insecure or selfish, because don't we all want to be noticed and made to feel ~important~?

    The community is wonderful. I love the blogosphere I've discovered, and missed it deeply during my hiatus (which I hope is over -- we'll see. My emotional fortitude seems to be returning after a two year stent through the woods.)

    As you grow, though, you attract those who want to follow in your wake. The more blood you have, the more you'll find others sucking at those ripe arteries. I think it's important to remember that this is human nature (it's natural), and that you should not allow yourself to become jaded because of a few bloodsuckers. I tell my wife on Facebook (her media of choice): Don't feed the trolls!

    It's a bad habit, though I enjoy it from time to time myself. I love bashing the trolls! But I stay my hand for the most part, because that sort of bickering can ban you quick.

    Yes, I've been banned. If you've never been banned, you're doing it wrong.

    As for B&N, I'm in the oil field as well. I'm also in technology and programming. It seems to me that change is a simple fact of life. I've given up trying to understand it. I play the cards in my hand and will play the next hand when it deals out. I'm not sure how productive it is to prognosticate over such huge unknowables. At some point it becomes intellectual flatulence, and we could all blow that air into a good story instead.

    Or at least blame it on the writer next to you, eh. ;)

    - Eric

  37. I have found that people tend to follow and then unfollow me soon after on Twitter and Google+. I simply thought that maybe I wasn't interesting enough:) I try not to be a leech. I hope nobody thinks of me as such. There are times when I don't blog a lot, but I do try to return a visit, or a follow as soon as possible. Thank you for the clarification above. Now I know not to just follow people back out of politeness, but to check out what they are about first.

  38. So true about blogging and bookstores. One of the things on my to-do list after I finish this trilogy is to scrub my blog roll to bare bones. It's way too long. I've let a lot of folks slide the last few scrubs. I have noticed that my commenters have dropped by half since I started blogging only once a month. I expected a drop, but not by that much. It is what it is ... once a month is all I can manage right now.

  39. I'll never figure out blogging, FB, or twitter, so I no longer try. I'm sad about any bookstore closing, but the larger ones do seem to be falling away. Amazon has changed the world, and the prices of real books vs an ebook, changed everything. But if I could, I'd still own a book store!

  40. I've met a few leeches, but I'm afraid in my busiest points in life, I'm guilty of shallow comments.

    As for B&N, it doesn't surprise me much. A few of our local B&Ns have had sadly lacking shelf space and they employees seem extremely grateful for any purchases. We also try to frequent a particular local bookstore more often than B&N because that bookstore carries my books and I want the owner to know that I appreciate her support - is that leeching? I don't think so. I think it's just smart to stay in touch with our support people, and I try to send business her way as often as I can.

    I don't expect anyone to help promote my books just because I leave comments. My books don't fit everyone's blog.

  41. Twitter drives me mad, people following then unfollowing as soon as I follow back. What's the point. I follow because I am interested in what you have to say. Two more that you left off your list, people who leave one or two word comments, or comments that indicate they looked at the images but didn't read the words.

  42. Leeches, yes, have seen my share. But I guess it's true in most any area of life, isn't it? It doesn't surprise me about B&N. I hope they manage to stay in business.

  43. The leech thing doesn't happen so much now that I blog off my site instead of blogger.

    Yeah, my local B&N sells more toys, games, and the like than books these days. I hope they don't close. It's a great meeting place for my crit group and other groups.

    Weird but true, I've had higher sales on B&N the last few months.

  44. This comment has been removed by the author.

  45. That doesn't sound good for B&N.

    I've seen plenty of leeches, mostly on Twitter.

  46. Sad news for B&N.

    Ah leeches. I was bit by a leech once. I still have a scar on my rump where I freaked out when I found it attached and ripped it off. Hmm. TMI?

    I notice the social media leeches mostly on Twitter. I might be considered a leech to some, because of the infrequency of my visits, but I struggle to find time to hit the long list of blogs I have on my Bloglovin' feed. Do you think some people think me leech like?

  47. I'm guilty of not visiting blogs like I used to. I just don't have time these days with all my deadlines and family related matters. But I know what you mean about the trolls that leech. I've seen it in authors who use others to help them get to their goal. They make it look like they're supportive of their friends, but the tweets and posts scream "this is really to benefit me not them!". :P

  48. Our local B&N is always packed but then our Borders store was too but it still closed. I would hate to see them shut down. We have no indie stores in our area that carry new books. They're all used bookstores. That will leave Target and BAM as our only booksellers.

  49. I have been very lucky -- no leeches. And I try not to be one, too. I'm more the other way--being delinquent in reading and/or commenting on all the blogs I want to visit just because of busyness and the desire to spend some time writing instead of chatting with my friends. Striking the right balance is hard.

  50. I've had to remove and delete lots of spammy comment. And on Twitter...

  51. We lost our local B&N; it was within walking distance, and we miss it dearly.

  52. The link to your excerpt: - Thanks Diane!

  53. Leeches will be discovered eventually. Go Kinokuniya!