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.