I want to share a story about virtual assistants with you.
It is a true and very sad story concerning a friend of mine that happened yesterday.
He is a writer, a successful writer, I would say, since he earns enough to support himself and his family, although he is not ‘well-known’ and you won’t find his books in the local supermarket.
Anyway, several years ago, he started having his books narrated through ACX, which is Audible, which is Amazon, and they give authors two hundred coupon codes per book so that they can give reviewers a free book.
My friend had 10,000 of them in August of 2020 and had no idea what to do with them. He had used only 213 over two years by then.
I will allow him to continue the story.
“One day, it dawned on me that Audible would pay me the price of the book for giving it away, so I thought about how to capitalise on that, while promoting myself at the same time.
“I started to promote my codes to Facebook groups dedicated to books, and found that there were dozens of groups for authors to promote their audiobooks to avid listeners.
“Within a short time, I was giving away 300-400 codes a month and making a decent extra income.
“I was very pleased with myself, as you can imagine.
“However, this extended marketing brought with it the attention of so-called virtual assistants. God knows why they are called that, because they are real people, not machines or algorithms.
“I resisted their offers of help for months, but then accepted one. My idea was that I would load my codes into a site built for that purpose, and then promote the URL of that site, so that those interested could retrieve codes as they wanted them. ACX is happy with this system, and even recommends a site to use. I used it.
“The deal with the virtual assistant, VA, was that I would continue to promote the codes to Facebook Groups, while he sought blogs and the like to promote to. It worked, and my income tripled in a month!
“That happy state of affairs continued for three or four months and my income even rose every month until it reached $4,988 last June. I was as happy as a sandboy.
“Until yesterday, that is, when I started to receive emails from narrators asking why ACX had sent them an email notifying them that all their free codes for my books had been cancelled.
“I didn’t get the $4,988 from ACX. I received $198.10. ACX has not contacted me, but they have told my narrators that they have detected ‘fraudulent activity’ on my account. All payments and all codes have been blocked.
“I don’t know why, and maybe never will, since ACX is not talking to me. I feel sad, and somewhat ashamed at losing $500 a week, but what is worse is not knowing what I am being accused of, or what I did wrong.
“I can only assume that the VA was bending the rules.
“So, my fellow authors, beware of sweet-talking virtual assistants, because they can ruin your business and leave you with nothing, while they can always find another mug to milk”.
I think that you will agree that it is a very sad story, but I put it here to give authors something to think about, when they feel inclined to form an association with a Virtual Assistant.