January 7, 2016
Fake Penguin publicist catfishes bloggers (to get reviews for her own book)
by Julia Fleischaker
Beware a publicist bearing false credentials.
The YA blog world is dealing with a catfishing situation. A blogger named Jon at Bookish Antics, writes of the odd bait and switch (that, frankly, seems like a lot of work), in which a woman claiming to be a Penguin publicity assistant reaches out to bloggers, collects their addresses, and then sends them copies of her own, previously published book with a letter on (what looks like it might be photocopied) Penguin letterhead.
Natasha Gilmore at Publishers Weekly summarized the weirdness.
Jon at Bookish Antics posted emails that he exchanged recently with a woman using the name Corinne Rosanna Catlin, sent initially from her personal email account and then from what appeared to be a valid Penguin Random House email account, offering ARCs for Jon to read and review. When he received the books, one of the galleys had a sticker from the online bookseller Thriftbooks pasted on it, and another title was a book published by Silvestri Books, written by Christine Catlin. When the blogger tried to locate Christine Catlin online, her Twitter profile matched that of Corinne Rosanna Catlin’s job description. Later, he found, her Twitter account was gone, and Silvestri Books’ website was no longer working, though it was back up on Tuesday afternoon. Her Instagram and LinkedIn accounts have been deleted as well. The GoodReads page for Catlin’s book also shows many recent reviews, about which several fellow bloggers cried foul. Jon said in his blog post that the bloggers “[pointed] out the fact that some of the reviews for her book are likely fakes. Many of the reviewers’ accounts were created 3 weeks ago, most likely with the intention of giving herself a positive review.”
Jon posted a number of screenshots, including this first email, which he says was followed up by far more professional-sounding correspondence.
Jon calls it “a ploy to make bloggers read her novel, Spectaccolo by Christine Catlin, which she claims that Penguin is now publishing in paperback.” (There is no record of Penguin publishing, or planning to publish, this title.)
A quick google search of Catlin’s name led me to this press release from October, where she claims to be “pursuing a degree in Digital and Print Publishing at New York University.”
Meanwhile, as readers commented on Jon’s post, it became clear that Christine had cast a wide net, and tricked a lot of bloggers. According to his updates, the Penguin legal team has since been alerted, and Christine has removed her website and Twitter account. Her Goodreads page is still up.
Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.