I went to Facebook and told other writers that scammers were taking my books and pretending to be me in order to trick innocent narrators into making them into audiobooks. I added a warning that narrators have told me this has happened to them by scammers who were pretending to be other authors, too. So I knew I wasn’t the only author hit by this. I was shocked, however, to find out how often this scam occurs over there. Indie authors aren’t the only ones hit, either. Even major publishers have fallen victim to this.
One author in a writing group on Facebook recommended that I “claim” my books in ACX so that scammers can’t take them. I had no idea I could even do this. So after some back and forth in the group, I figured out how to do this, and I’m going to pass this information along to anyone who might want to go to ACX and claim their books so scammers don’t get them.
I have been able to claim most of them. There were two situations where I couldn’t claim them. 1. Two of my books have been stolen and made into audiobooks. I reported those two books to ACX already. 2. The others I was unable to claim have been disabled from being able to be made into audiobooks. These were the same titles narrators had told me were up for auditions. I had contacted ACX about them, and I think this is why those are disabled. At least ACX shut those books down before the scammer could get away with doing those. Also, I think it helped that at least one narrator contacted ACX. I don’t know if more than one did, but I know one who did for sure.
Anyway, it appears that ACX automatically puts our books on their site. I didn’t realize this. All of my books were over there. Other people’s books are there, too. All a scammer has to do it claim the book they want, and then they can arrange for it to be auditioned. This is how easy the scam is. I suspect the scammer has to have a copy of the book to send to the narrator (though I am not familiar with the process since I’ve never been through it). In my case, the scammer was only picking my free books. I noticed that none of the narrators who contacted me were approached with my paid books. The scammer(s) only seemed interested in the free ones. So that was interesting to note.
Claiming the books is a tedious and long process, so if you have a lot of books, set aside a few hours. I had so many books that I had to break my time up. I claimed the ebook and paperback version of my book. All claiming a book does is put your book in production. So you have started the process of making an audiobook, but you haven’t finished it. So your book will be stuck “in production”. If you ever decide to have an audiobook made, this will at least get you started in the process.
If you want to claim your book in ACX so a thief can’t get to it, I’m going to tell you what to do. An author on Facebook was kind enough to explain how to do it to me and a few other authors because we didn’t know what to do.
The first thing you need to do is sign up for an account at https://www.acx.com/. I use the same account for publishing my books on KDP and for buying things off of Amazon, so I was able to connect up to ACX easily. ACX is an arm of Amazon.
In this example, I have two books I took screenshots of while claiming the book. One went through easily, and the other required more work.
When you find your book, look for the “This is my Book” option to the right of it. This is in purple. (In this case, I already had the ebook version claimed. Now I was claiming the paperback.)
This is what shows up next:
Since I have no intention of ever making an audiobook on ACX, I picked the second option (which is saying I already had the audio files). This is what the other author on Facebook said she did in order to keep her book in “production” status, so I did the same thing.
This is what happens next:
I selected non-exclusive even though I’ll never use ACX. Then I clicked continue.
Next, I got the page that asked me to say, “Yes, this is my book.” Then I clicked “agree and continue”.
Most of the time, this is all it takes to get the book “claimed”, but ACX is a bit wonky, so sometimes I had to keep going in order for the claim to “take”. (Make sure search ACX to see that you get the statement saying you claimed it.) This is what it should look like if it worked. In this case, I got my ebook and paperback covered.
In the case of Mitch’s Win, the “easy way” didn’t work. I clicked, “This is my book”, went through the exclusive or not page, and verify your rights to the book page. (I showed those above.) But when I went to check on Mitch’s Win in the search results, it still was not claimed.
So I went through the process all over again, but this time after I verified I was the owner of the book, I kept going. If you keep you, you’ll come to a page like this:
Sometimes the description comes up and sometimes it doesn’t. But then you have to fill out all the required boxes. This is what I did.
I listed myself as the narrator since it doesn’t matter what is in the box. I had to fill everything with the red asterisk in.
And at the bottom of the page, I clicked continue. That took me to this page:
I clicked to start adding my chapters. Then it takes you to a screen to list out your chapters or import them from the ebook on Amazon. I only put “C1” “C2” and then hit continue since I am not actually going to make this into an audiobook.
That took me to this page:
Now it’s verified that the book is in production. I checked the book on ACX and saw that it was claimed properly this time, too. I still like to double check. So now the book is in production. I think of this as a placeholder so that no one else can take it.
This is the only way I know of to prevent a thief from coming in and claiming our books as theirs. It’s really sad that authors have to go through such ridiculous hoops to protect their books, but thieves don’t care about stealing. To them, easy money is easy money, and they have no qualms about their shady dealings.
I guess my advice to narrators (if any are reading this) is to check with the author of the book to make sure the author is the one who set the book up for auditions. One of the narrators I came in contact with who spent her time into actually creating one of my books was heartbroken when she discovered what had happened. I was unable to find the other narrator to tell her that she’d been scammed. I searched online, but there was no easy way to find her. So I had to let that one go. But for the one I was able to communicate with, that was her first book, and she was so excited about it.
These thieves really upset me. I’ve had books stolen from me before. I remember how devastated I was when it happened. Now I just get pissed. I have to pay $55 for each book I publish in order to register them at the US Copyright Office. That adds up when you have almost 100 books. The US Copyright Office probably recognizes my name by now. I know some of you can’t afford to do it, but I feel like I have no choice. The US Copyright Registration letter was the only proof Amazon would accept last year when someone claimed that I stole my own book. For me, theft is a way of life in this indie world. I feel like I got a target on my head, and on some days, it is exhausting. I press on because I love writing. If I didn’t love it as much as I do, I’d be done with it. But this is my one real passion. I feel like God has put me here to write these books. So I continue. And I continue with the knowledge that there will probably be a next time. I don’t spend my days worrying over it happening. I just do what I can to be as prepared as I can be so that I have what I need to resolve the issues in my favor.
Regarding that narrator, though, I felt sick to my stomach. Innocent people shouldn’t have to go through this kind of thing. Honest people who are trying to make an honest living should be able to do their work without having the rug pulled out from under them. I can only hope that by claiming my books on ACX no other narrator will have to go through this with any more of my books. I’m hoping that claiming the books is the key to keeping writers and narrators safe.