November 22, 2019

Issues at Audible's ACX: Attempted Rights Fraud, Withdrawn Promotional Codes

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware®

Two issues involving Audible's ACX have come across my desk recently.

Rights Fraud

I've heard from several self- and small press-pubbed authors who report that they've found their books listed on ACX as open to narrator auditions...except that they, or their publishers, didn't put them there. This appears to be an attempt to steal authors' audio rights.

Below is one listing. Here's another and another and another. (All of these listings have been invalidated by ACX.)

See "Comments from the Rights Holder" at the bottom. The purported company, Publishing D LLC, does not show up on any searches.

The fraud seems pretty elaborate. Here's what one of the authors who contacted me told me:

These comments from a freelance audiobook narrator illustrate that "Publishing D" is not an isolated incidence.

Promotional Code Shenanigans

Multiple authors have contacted me to report that they've received an email from ACX withdrawing their promotional codes. The cited reason: "unusual activity," with no explanation of what that means.

The authors say that they have not used the codes improperly or violated ACX guidelines; in some cases, they've used the codes only a handful of times or not at all. See, for instance, blog posts by authors G. Michael Vasey and Adam Piggott. Per discussions on the KBoards and Reddit, a lot of authors seem to be affected.

Is this one of Amazon's (Audible's parent company) periodic crackdowns on misuse or fraud that has inadvertently ensnared innocent authors? According to author and self-publishing expert David Gaughran, ACX promo code scamming is a major problem, and Amazon's anti-abuse sweeps often involve a lot of collateral damage. Or could it be an error--a glitch or rogue algorithm?

So far, authors' efforts to get a fuller explanation have run up against the black box that is Amazon:

If I hear anything further, I'll update this post.

UPDATE 11/27/19: One of the authors who alerted me to the promo code withdrawal has received a notice saying that their codes are reinstated--however, they say that the promo code tab has yet to appear in their dashboard.


  1. I've run up against that black box often enough.

  2. I'll just note that the "author" behind the main ACX promo code scam is one of the wave of scammy internet marketers attracted to the world of publishing by Kindle Unlimited, one who has already been banned - multiple times under different pen names - from using KDP in 2018 for book stuffing, among other things, and who has attempted to come back multiple times under different pen names. He now operates as a Facebook/marketing consultant engaging in some practices which are far more serious again.

  3. Yeah that crap happened to my on promo codes that (afaics) were never even used.

    No appeal No explanation.

    How is that legal?

  4. Think of cops expected to issue X number of tickets a week. I suspect that Amazon, Fecebooks and Youtube set similar standards for their ill-paid and perhaps contractor-employed watchdogs. Those unfortunates are then forced to find people to sanction to keep their jobs. Stalinist Russia was like that. The secret police got orders to arrest X number of people and often simply rounded them up at a train station, irrespective of their guilt or innocence.

    It'll take libel/slander lawsuits to make these companies more careful, particularly when what someone does is branded by the company as "hate speech." The SPLC has begun to lose multi-million dollar lawsuits for just that reason. It'd be great to see the same thing happen to YouTube et al.