“How do I turn my book into an audiobook on Audible.com?” – An Overview of ACX

I received an email today from an author and scientist inquiring about having me produce an audiobook for his book. He was curious about how to make the audiobook, and once it was finished, how to go about getting it listed on Audible.com.

Fortunately, now it is very easy for authors to get audiobooks produced, and distributed through Audible.com, Amazon, and iTunes. You don’t have to have a contract with a major publisher, either. Even self-published authors can easily coordinate audiobook production, and retain a lot of autonomy and choice over how their work is translated into audiobook form in the process.

Authors can even do this without making any up front investment in the audiobook production process. It doesn’t cost thousands of dollars up front to make a professionally produced audiobook. In fact, there are many audiobook narrators willing to work for royalty sharing, provided they feel confident that the book will sell well enough to justify their investment of work.

Here is an excerpt from the email that I sent in response to the client’s inquiry:

It would be very easy to get the audiobook on Audible.com, Amazon, and iTunes. ACX.com is the “Audiobook Creation Exchange.” It allows authors to post their books, where audiobook narrators can then see the postings and audition to narrate the book. Then, the author awards a production contract to their favorite narrator, they agree on a timeframe for getting the book finished, and the audiobook files are uploaded to ACX where the narrator/producer, author, and ACX can all collaborate to review them and make sure the audiobook sounds as desired. Once finished, the audiobook is automatically distributed on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, and all payments are disbursed by Audible.

Instructions for authors on how to do this are on ACX.

Another interesting aspect of using ACX is that, as the author, you can choose whether you want to do a pay-for-production contract or royalty sharing.

  • Pay-for-production means that the author pays the audiobook narrator/producer a specified rate per finished hour of audio.
  • As a rule of thumb, a finished hour of audio is approximately equal to 9,000 words of text.
  • Good quality audiobooks usually cost $200 – $400 per finished hour of audio to produce, if done as pay-for-production. (To give some perspective to this cost, it can take approximately 6 – 10 hours of work to produce each hour of finished audio, render and format the audio, review/screen it for mistakes, and upload it).
  • Royalty share means that the author pays nothing, but the audiobook narrator/producer receives royalties from the sales of the finished audiobook.
  • Royalty payments are handled by Audible, so no administrative work on the part of the author is required.
  • In an exclusive distribution arrangement, Audible takes 50% of the sale price, the author gets 25%, and the narrator gets 25%. That breakdown is on the first 1000 copies sold. The more copies sold, Audible’s percentage decreases and the remainder is split between the author and narrator. More details about the payment breakdown.

I have recently produced four audiobooks through ACX, so I am familiar with their system, and all of the projects I’ve done there so far have been positive experiences for me. I also currently have a couple of other audiobooks in production on ACX which will be finished over the next several weeks. You can see my ACX profile here.

Some of the authors I’ve worked with in the past on other audiobook projects chose not to distribute their audiobooks through Audible/Amazon, because they take a large percentage of the royalties (50%). That left them with the option of distributing the audiobook through their websites, or through sites like NoiseTrade, CoinDL, or giving the audiobook away for free as a bonus or gift to their blog followers.

I hope this blog post is helpful! If you’re interested in having me narrate your audiobook, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

7 comments

  • Hi Stephanie,

    Many thanks for the info contained in the post. Having just self-published my first novel – and now looking at ways to leverage it – this was absolutely spot-on. I’ll do a little more searching, but there’s a strong possibility I might be back, asking you to assist me in converting FULL CIRCLE into a professional audiobook.

    If you have the time, please take a look at http://www.ianmulville.com to see whether it’s a project you might be interested in.

    Best regards

    Ian Mulville

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  • eileenflanagan

    This is very helpful, but I’m curious about Audible’s pricing. Half the books I get from them seem to be free because I have extra credits. Is the author paid a set price per book, no matter what discounts Audible offered the customer, or do you get a percentage of what they collected? Part of their revenue comes from monthly membership fees, which enables them to offer books cheap. Wondering how this works out for the author.

    • Stephanie

      Hi Eileen, thanks for your comment! Yes, the author (and narrator, if the audiobook is produce as a royalty share) do still get paid when customers use Audible credits to purchase an audiobook. The actual earnings for authors and narrators do vary depending on how the customer purchases the audiobook – Audible credits, “a la carte” or “off-plan” (meaning the customer has a membership but is not using credits to purchase the audiobook.) It varies a lot depending on several factors including Audible’s pricing and how customers purchase the book, but as a general ballpark, an author might earn about $2.00 per copy sold from an audiobook on a royalty share production.

  • Hi Stephanie,
    9/7/2015

    I am very curious to solicit and possibly contract your services to convert my recently published novel into an audio book. i would like to invite you to peruse the sample pages of this novel as we find the right outfit to work with . the novel is The DEADLINE by Author Horatio Stone, published on Amazon. com

  • Hi, Stephanie,
    I see on this blog how to get a self-published book onto Audible. But I’m not self-published – I’m with a traditional publisher. My publisher does not yet do audio books, because he says it’s too expensive. I’m trying to find information that I can send to him, to show exactly how much it would cost. Where do I find that information?

    • Hi Kathie! Thanks for commenting. Here is some information for publishers about how to get audiobooks produced and distributed on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. http://www.acx.com/help/print-publishers/200484620

      Here is some information about how to finance audiobook production. http://www.acx.com/help/rights-holders/200474610#pay It is possible that your publisher may be able to find narrators willing to enter into a royalty sharing agreement, in which case there would be no up-front cost to produce the audiobook and the audiobook narrator would get paid out of the sales of the audiobook. In order to find the best narrators who are willing to do this, it helps if your books have a track record of strong sales, a marketing plan, and if the author and/or the publisher have a strong social media following.

      Alternatively, you can find talented and experienced narrators on ACX who are willing to produce audiobook for up-front payment of $200 – $400 per finished hour of audio (equivalent to about 9000 words of text.) In that case, if the narrator gets paid up front, they will not receive royalties from the sales of the audiobook and the royalties would go to the audiobook rights holder instead.

      Best of luck with convincing your publisher to go forward into the world of audiobooks!

      Stephanie

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