This programme contains podcasts of articles my websites Megan Publishing Services, and The Amiable Dragon... mostly written by me, Owen Jones a professional author of over 1,000 books in thity-five languages.
How to Spot an ACX Bot
An ACX Bot?Photo by Alex Knight on Pexels.com
Silly, slightly off-topic answers are a strong hint that you are writing to an ACX bot!
In case you haven't read the previous article on my recent experience with ACX, I'll give you a brief resume before talking about how to spot an ACX bot.
ACX accused me of fraudulent audiobook sales in June last year. They don't discuss it with you, or even give you an opportunity to ask questions, explain, or even apologise. You are guilty and you are scum.
End of story.
Fraudulent Claims of Fraudulent Sales?
Well, I hoped that it was, anyway. Then a few days ago, almost exactly a year later, I received an email from Audible saying that 12 of my audiobooks had shown traits of further fraudulent sales. They actually showed me the list, which really surprised me. However, I have never promoted eight of those twelve ever, because they were volumes 16-23 in a series and authors always promote the first three or five even. I want readers to start my series on volume one, not volume 18! It makes obvious sense, right?
However, the same person had narrated all twelve of the books.
So, having been told that my account was to be closed, I wrote to the 124 narrators of my 174 audiobooks using the ACX message board.
The next day, I received a very shirty letter from a DEBRA from ACX. It was very long-winded, and slightly off-topic, but basically it told me in dodgy legalese about the consequences that I could face, if I continued to threaten 'my narrators'.
I asked ACX/Audible to show me the threats, but am still awaiting a reply after two months. That is typical ACX/Audible high-handedness. All I did was inform the narrators that the books that they had worked so hard on would disappear in a puff of wind when my account was eventually closed.
Many contacted me.
So did Debra.
However, not with a reply to my previous question, but with even more ludicrous threats. I called her out again , but the cycle repeated... four times in all!
Then the penny dropped. Debra could not read or react in a human manner because 'she' is an ACX bot.
On the fifth stupid email, I wrote only that discussing such matters with ACX bots no longer interested me. That was two months ago and I have not heard from Debra since.
I can imagine a group of spotty, spineless, youths in Silicone Valley having a great laugh at my expense for trying to discuss any serious topic with an ACX bot. However, emails containing stodgy, slightly off-topic, seemingly automated text littered with dodgy legalese that do not answer concerns that you have previously brought up are examples of how I think that you can work out how to spot an ACX bot.
My Problems with ACX
My Problems with ACX
When the bottom drops out of your business...
I have been with ACX, the arm of Amazon that publishes audiobooks for Audible to sell, for about eight years. However, I have been active for only since 2018, about four years at the time of writing. During that time, I created 174 audiobooks with about 144 narrators.
My average monthly income until August 2020 was about $250. Then, in September of that year, I had a brainwave. I don't mind if you think that it was late coming, but ACX gives authors and narrators (or rights holders and publishers, as they call us) a number of free codes to give to those that we believe will leave an honest review.
We also used to get paid for giving away those free codes on books published before 26-3-20In September 2020, I had about 7,000 codes, and the narrators must have had about half as many again.
So, I was ticking along at about $250 p/m and discovered Facebook Groups. I began to target my books to specific groups, and my revenue quadrupled within a couple of months.
My Problems with ACX
In March 2021, two Bangladeshi students offered to help with my promotion. I hesitated, and dawdled for a month, but eventually took them on.
Within six weeks, my income had rocketed to $3,000 pm, and within another three months, Audible had de-listed my top 20 novels for 'fraud'.
Don't ask me why, because Audible is so high and mighty that they offered no explanations or right of appeal to my problems with ACX.
So, I continued under those conditions for nine months until June 2022, when I was accused of fraud again and my account was closed.
No appeal, no explanation...
However, an ACX bot let slip the fraudulent titles. There were twelve, but I know that I have never ever promoted eight of them.
The same person narrated all twelve. So, am I being blamed for someone else's misdemeanours?
Who knows? However, what is worse is that Audible doesn't care!
Be aware, that Audible has closed my writer's account, even though I had 174 audiobooks in that account, and 144 people had narrated those books.
Therefore, without any proper explanation, I, and 144 narrators have lost an income.
If your business relies on Audible/ACX as mine did, you need to take action now, because you could be next!
This happens more often than you think!
Email me to find my solution to my problems with ACX.
Spreading the word...
I have spent most of this month doing what I should have been doing last year - adding references to book translations to my website.
I have admitted my error in not looking after this blog before, so I won't go into it again now.
However, translators have every right to expect an entry on our blog Megan Publishing Services, and that is what I am doing now.
It has surprised me how many languages Owen Jones's books have been translated into. The current count is thirty-five (plus English), although not every book has been translated into each of those languages.
The book that holds the record is THE MISCONCEPTION, the first volume of the Psychic Megan Series. It's the lovely tale of Megan, a psychic teenager, who is looking for answers to questions about her nascent psychic powers. It is available in 35 languages at the time of writing. We are only missing Sinhala to get all of them).
The second one is A NIGHT IN ANNWN with 14 translations. It is also about a man's supernatural experience during an NDE (Near-death Experience).
There is a stunning number of applications to translate our books at the moment. We often receive up to ten a week from all over the world. It is not at all unusual to publish three of more books in a single day, and for a run like that to last a week. This is why Owen Jones has over 1,000 books registered to him. In fact, there are more than eight hundred in the British Library records, and we are adding more every month.
However, do you think that it is coincidental that the two fore-runner book translations are about Spiritual matters?
I don't think so.
How about you?
PS: I am now buying new book covers at the rate of two-three per month, so look out for lots of changes :-)
PPS: I have changed the covers for both of the novels mentioned above. Check them out on this site!
My New Book Covers
My New Book Covers
Showing off your books...
I feel that I have already written too much of late about my new book covers, but it is a very important strategy in my plans for the future
I have quite a few books, but most of them were written years ago and the covers are stale. So, they need replacing. There is no argument about that. However, at what pace?
Obviously, cost is a constraint. People say that the benefits that the new covers will bring in... increased revenue... will pay for future investment. However, it doesn't always work like that. Returns can be slower than hoped for.
Unexpected Results of Cover Changes
This can be because old customers don't recognise the new covers or series formats. The benefits of change can be slow to accrue. Slower than hoped for, or expected anyway.
One thing that keeps me hopeful though is that I receive compliments on my new book covers several times a week, and mostly from people I don't know.
That is encouraging, because even using the best cover design company in the world, it is a big step to rebrand... expensive too.
The company that I use allows an infinite number of remakes, but, which is perfect for the novice, even if a little embarrassing. It is far better to have thought about what information you want your new book cover to display beforehand. My tip is get a book off your shelf that is ‘similar’ to yours, ie if yours is in a series use one from a series as an example to copy.
My New Book Covers Checklist
So, my checklist for book cover design is: you will need the book title and your name for a start. Other options include: a subtitle, a series name, the number of the book in the series, and collaborators. Then on the back cover: a description or blurb, an author bio (and photo?), the title(s) (again?), and the cover designer. All the while remembering that you will need to leave enough room for the barcode.
Check out where I buy my new book covers on this link:
My New Book Covers
Book Cover Obsession
Book Cover Obsession
A dog with a bone...
I'm sorry if I'm boring you, my regular readers, but I currently have a Book Cover Obsession.
As you probably know, I wasn't like this even a couple of months ago, but that is a sign of how rapidly these things can get a hold of you. Or, me at any rate.
In my defence, book covers are extremely important to a writer, but I just hadn't realised how much before.
My Book Covers
As people, we are admonished not to judge a book by its cover, but the plain fact is that we all do that several times a day. So, I am getting to grips with this now, and am commissioning 2-3 covers a month. Today, I was trying to decide which the next two should be, and I noticed that my two worst selling books have black covers! Well, have black as the predominant colour (or shade, for the pedants).
I hadn't realised that before, but why hadn't I? Probably, because I made them, and think that they fit the story perfectly. However, when you analyse it, I know the story, but a potential reader does not! It could be off-putting, I suppose. It was amateurish, but now I a using professional book cover designers.
Someone said that black on the cover is acceptable, if there is a death in the story. Well, there is, but the book browser doesn’t know that. I think that people can get too bogged down in symbolism. Another person Tweeted that two bullet holes on the cover of a murder mystery might signify that it is the second volume... Really? My guess would have been that the shooter was a poor shot.
Not only that, but not everyone takes the same thing home from reading the same book. I have talked to many readers over the last ten years who loved a book of mine, but had a totally different take on what it was about... and their interpretation was just as valid as mine.
There is one fantastic reviewer who actually taught me what two of y books were really about! How about that?
It's why I love reviews. I often learn things about my books that I didn't know, and I mean that quite literally. However, when will this book cover obsession pass? I don't know... when all my novels have better cloths, I suppose.
Book Cover Sense
How is your book cover judgement?
I have always thought that my book cover sense was pretty good. Why would I think that? Well, I have been reading all sorts of books for all sorts of reasons for about sixty-five years, and I have published more than eight hundred books over the last twelve years.
It amounts to a lot of experience, I think you'll agree.
However, book sales have been dropping off this year, and most pro's will advise an author to look to his or her book covers in such a situation, since people do judge a book by its cover despite the sages' clear advice.
I checked my top sellers and found nothing wanting. Still, it is difficult to be objective about one's own work, so I took them to websites where people will evaluate them.
Book Cover Evaluation Sites
There is a Facebook Group called: ‘Does My Book Cover Suck’.
Nobody liked any of my top three covers! It was like a punch in the face :-( My pride and joy was being rubbished, and what was almost as bad, I could see what my critics were talking about, once the problems had been pointed out to me.
Now, I have eight hundred book covers, as I said above, so I realised that I had a very big, and potentially, very expensive problem.
After a few beers of commiseration with my book cover sense, or during them, actually, I set to work on a fix. Eight hundred times any figure is a lot of money, so I first went to Fiverr and the like. However, you won't find anything book-related there for $5 any more. Book covers were averaging $35-$60, so I gave that up.
QR link to book cover designers
To cut a long story short, I found a firm that surpassed my expectations and came in at a very reasonable price. Furthermore, people, even total strangers, have started complimenting my covers again.
The book cover above is one that came from there.
Here is my link to their site (the QR code leads there too).
Go check your book cover sense, and take a look at some of their off-the-peg designs! Prices start at $10! Or have one totally unique, tailor-made for your book