Internets WTF

Author Allegedly Catfishing Book Bloggers Into Reviewing Her Book


Jon at Bookish Antics has posted a bizarre tale of catfishing in the book blogger world. He says a “woman ‘named’ Corinne Rosanna Catlin has been contacting bloggers such as myself and masquerading as a publicity assistant” at Penguin Books. He claims she is sending out purchased Advance Reader Copies to send out along with her own book in an effort to trick bloggers into reviewing her work.

I got mail from Corinne in a box with a Penguin Random House label and a letter that was supposedly from Penguin Young Readers. I received one of the ARCs I requested, a random adult book from a Penguin imprint and a strange looking indie title. The YA book from my list had a “Thrift Books” sticker on it and I’m confident that Corinne bought the ARC I wanted online. This was all a ploy to make bloggers read her novel, Spectaccolo by Christine Catlin, which she claims that Penguin is now publishing in paperback.

The author, Christine Catlin, is being accused of astroturfing Goodreads with fake reviews about her book as well. Jon says he has “received emails from an official PenguinRandomHouse address from a Corinne despite confirmations from a source that she doesn’t work there” and says “Penguin Random House is now getting involved in this and their Legal department will be handling this”.

  1. cingria


    THIS! (26)  NOPE! (3)

  2. Audrey Horne


    I'm sorry but the name Corinne Rosanna Catlin reminds me of Roseanne Roseannadanna.

    THIS! (71)  NOPE! (4)

    • Rose

      Or meghann Anne Anderson

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      • Cereal Noper


        Fixed that for you

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  3. Amaryllis

    My mom, published romance author, knew a woman who found out what stores the NYT used to used to determine it's bestseller list and bought those stores out of her first book. Her garage was literally filled, floor to ceiling, with copies of her book. She had to take out a second mortgage to do this, but being a NYT Bestselling Author more than paid back that loan.

    Shenanigans- not new in the book game.

    THIS! (133)  NOPE! (13)

    • coding in cabo

      I love this. Werk.

      THIS! (22)  NOPE! (3)

    • Wut

      This doesn't sound remotely plausible.

      THIS! (18)  NOPE! (15)

      • It's Always Shitty in Donkadelphia

        I know, right. Not as if NYT Bestselling Author has it's own pay grade ~ ea book cost her more than it earned in royalty, so that's a losing proposition.

        From Wikipedia, re: compilation of list: 'It is based on weekly sales reports obtained from selected samples of independent and chain bookstores and wholesalers throughout the United States.'

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        • Purple21

          Phew! For a minute there I thought bestsellers were determined the same way they work out TV ratings. I wonder if the mother's friend realized how many books she'd have to buy to outsell every other book being sold in the US?

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        • NOPE

          That would explain "garage was literally filled, floor to ceiling,"

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          • Wut

            Even if you believe as many books needed to land on the NYT bestseller list could fit in the garage, you have to also believe a single person was able to go around to every single book store the NYT uses (and believe she actually had access to that info which seems highly protected) in the whole country and gather them up in a short period of time. Unless you think she was buying them over the phone with her own credit information? Nothing about it makes sense.

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      • scarletbegonia

        Jacqueline Susann used to do that--she and her husband probably invented that trick. Worked for her.

        THIS! (4)  NOPE! (1)

        • mildlyacquiescent

          Actually, this is eminently plausible. They've changed the system a bit now, but it did use to be based on a tiny, tiny sample and authors were able to get in the list in exactly this way.

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          • Wut

            Okay, yes. I will agree if this happened before the list went national in 1942, then an individual on their own may be able to go into the individual stores of one city and somehow discreetly buy enough.

            Why is this contentious? Yes, people using a service with a lot of money can buy their way on to a NYT list. But any googling shows that sales in bulk aren't counted and the way this shit is done is the companies have individuals in every city going out and buying the books. On top of that, there is a subjective element to it - it isn't purely based on sales. But that's besides the point. The point is a single person, no time recently, went out and bought their way on the list in a fashion that would result in them actually ending up with the books. Josephine Sussan also had a publishing company behind her for her scheme. Maybe some aspects of OP's story are true, but as told, it likely isn't and I just find it an odd story to repeat since it has so many holes.

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    • Anon

      That is a tactic used ALL the time in publishing. It isn't even considered shady...just a way of doing business...investing in your own book basically.

      THIS! (13)  NOPE! (8)

    • Ramcat Hamcat

      Umm... the NYT bestseller list is determined by how much stock bookstores buy from suppliers, not how many books are purchased from the bookstore, a detail that this "knew a guy" women seems to not have passed on. It's possible that buying out all those stores led the bookstores to reorder a large enough stock in anticipation of future sales to push the book onto the list, but most likely this was a phenomenal waste of money.

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      • Wut

        That isn't accurate either. They do it on sales to people. But they don't count bulk sales to one person.

        And yes, people can hire laundering firms to boost their book sales. But the story here, as told, didn't happen. No one literally buys them all themselves and ends up with them in their garage and has it count toward NYT.

        THIS! (15)  NOPE! (5)

  4. Albie Quirky

    Oh, sweet fancy Jesus, now I've seen everything. I'm tempted to review this chick's book now, on the presumption that it is as hilariously bad as her publicity ideas.

    THIS! (34)  NOPE! (2)

  5. Judgey-Judgerson

    It gets even more bizarre (pathetic) when you start going through the fake reviews on Goodreads. Apparently there are a LOT of shell accounts on Goodreads, where the person(s) involved uses several accounts to make positive reviews on books.

    There were quite a few people taken by this scam.

    If the book is as creative and imaginative as her fake name, it's quite a dud.

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  6. sundaecake

    But was it good?

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  7. Purple21

    Wow, she got called out fast on Amazon. There are only 14 reviews and most of them are negative reviews of the catfishing scam. There are only a few 4 or 5 star reviews and most of these are from people who have never written a review before.
    Christine Catlin really made the wrong call with this promotional strategy. She'll have to change her name and start again...

    THIS! (9)  NOPE! (0)

    • Piñata of Farts

      Certainly a wrong call. Those lawyers are not going to be nice; it's not like she pretended to be from Disney or Lucasfilm, but companies don't like it when you pretend to be them.

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  8. Like Did Bacall

    Synopsis of Spectaccolo (lulz at the name, I keep expecting Eduardo Corrochio! to make an appearance):

    "A baby, abandoned at the circus. Left to sleep among the lions.

    Leona is a beautiful, determined, talented performer. Abandoned at the circus as an infant, she befriends a pack of circus lions who become her family as she becomes Leona, the Lion Tamer. Her performances gain her the highest recognition and eventually garner the deepest jealousies. Kidnapped by the neighboring circus, Leona and her lions are forced to perform against their will. Unable to escape, Leona is commanded to train an erratic male lion with a history of violence. Love and loss, discovery and deceit, Spectaccolo is a story about a girl becoming a woman in a place like none other."

    Love and loss? Becoming a woman at the circus? A male lion with a violent past? Why didn't the lions eat the baby?

    This is Danielle Steele: The Lion Chronicles.

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    • dmc


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    • Erza

      Good lord...and she even named her female lion trainer "Leona." Also, I'd have to think that a circus would be just about the easiest place in the world to escape from. This book sounds like a real crap-fest.

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    • Baby Dolls Are Always Scary

      "neighboring circus"?? Yep... That's the part I just can't get past. Baby raised by lions...ok. Becomes best lion tamer EVER...ok. But a neighboring circus? How many circuses with lion tamers are left in this world? Are there enough for two to be neighbors? That's where she lost me.

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      • dmc

        does the book take place now???

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      • Purple21

        Baby left to sleep with the lions was where she lost me. I'm sure this happens to circus babies all the time, we just don't hear about it because the lions always eat the babies in two bites.

        But yeah - "neighboring circus" is hilarious. She really needs a better research assistant who could work out that circuses don't stay in one neighborhood and they tend to keep out of each other's way for practical reasons.

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    • Seriously it sounds like circus fanfic with weirdly vague bestiality undertones. If she had just posted it to certain kind of internet forum she could have a book deal for 50 Shades of Circus by now.

      THIS! (129)  NOPE! (3)

      • KitchenAid Mixer

        Is she trying to be the next Dinosaur Erotica?

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      • the french fry queen

        I mean I get the vibe that this is totally a love story between her and the violent lion.

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      • i like warm hugs

        I am intrigued by the bit about "love and loss" coupled with having to tame an erratic male lion. WTF? It does have that corn-ish feel to it.

        And LOL at "the neighboring circus" because it sounds like that's "a thing." Like "the grocery store," or "the town bum." I don't know about you, but my life doesn't contain any sort of official neighboring circus.

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        • I Want a Donut So Bad

          Maybe she confused erotic and erratic?

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      • RollsRoyceRevenge

        Harper Lee's little known novel, To Blow A ViolentLion, is an obvious inspiration.

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      • BlissfulIgnorance

        Sounds like a "no means no unless the lion is sexy" bodice ripper

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    • Army of Vaginas

      Sounds like a page turner.

      If she put half as much effort into writing that mess as she did in "marketing" it, she might have come up with a less weird topic.

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    • Extremely Large Size Medum

      Am I the only one who read "erotic male lion" at first glance?

      THIS! (43)  NOPE! (1)

    • potatohead

      Ten dollars says there's a bestiality aspect.

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      • RollsRoyceRevenge

        I'd guess it's the tail's mane thrust.

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        • Catsillas


          damn you guys, this entire post is killing me.

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      • Matching Adult Sized Care Bear Undies

        "In the Spirit of 'Water for Elephants' comes an all-new circus novel, 'Creaming for Lions.'"

        THIS! (17)  NOPE! (1)

  9. dmc

    Looked on goodreads and until the catfishing thing came out...all her reviews were good...they only get bad when her scheme was found out...

    So either people were lying when they said it was good for free stuff or is the book actually good?

    Furthermore, this isn't surprising to me at all. People will do anything to market their books. Desperate times.

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    • Halyn

      Or Secret Option C: The author herself posted those reviews using sock puppets.

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      • dmc

        I didn't do any investigative work so they could be fake but they don't look it soo if they are...she really put a lot of work into them.

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      • Phone

        Kidnapped by neighboring sock puppets.

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        • Fresh Hell

          I think I just found a new username.

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    • Oh, you

      Combo I bet. We all know bloggers who will sing praises for free stuff, and I bet Fiverr was employed as well. The cost of this for a new writer, from buying fake reviews to buying ARCs of actual books to the postage, it boggles the mind how epically she has screwed herself for her future.

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      • dmc

        I think so too. Some may be fake but some seemed real and if her book sucks that badly...than people were lying to get free books or whatever fake Penguin was offering.

        THIS! (2)  NOPE! (2)

        • Probably. When the outcome of a "review" (positive or negative) decides if a company will bother giving you more free stuff to "review", impartiality goes flying out the window for a lot of people. A tiny few manage to walk the line between utter objectiveness and reviews, but they tend to be highly respected/read figures in their sector. Everyone else seems to know positive review = more free stuff, and plays along.

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  10. NOPE

    Are you that insecure about your own work that you have to go to such lengths? If only she had worked as hard at her craft of writing these shenanigans wouldn't be necessary.

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    • potatohead

      While I think this woman is nuts, I can assure you there are PLENTY of writers who work hard at their craft and either never get a book deal or have their books fizzle on the shelf because the market has shifted another way. I used to be a book blogger, so would receive ARCs from the big houses, indie presses and self-pubs. Not always, but often enough, the self pubs or those from indie presses far outstripped what Scholastic or Penguin was shilling. BUT Penguin, Scholastic, LB, etc have their finger on the pulse of what the readership is clamoring for, so their books are guaranteed best sellers.

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  11. Babby Forming Despite Life-Threatening Heels

    She's such a great author she couldn't come up with a better fake name that doesn't sound at all like her real name I mean my GOD.

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    • BlissfulIgnorance

      There's an official email address under that surname too, though. So I wonder if she was stuck using that surname even though it matched? Or maybe there weren't any fake names, maybe it's a sister or cousin?

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  12. Pluck Me Running


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  13. ionlyhave2arms

    I like how the author's goodreads page has 9 followers, including a "Christine" from Minneapolis who voted for "Spec-crap-pulo" or whatever its called for "best Female Teen Book" and "Best beautiful and magical book"

    Girl, bye.

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