Using ACX for Audiobooks

We have been working hard to produce another audiobook in a series to beef up our fiction imprint offering and give readers a different way of consuming our content. We’re on our third audiobook so I thought I’d report on progress so far.

Once you put all that work into your book then it makes sense to diversify and turn it into other products. After all, most of the hard graft is done. Adding audiobooks to your catalogue is well worth looking into as are print books.

The audiobook market is currently worth around $1.2 Billion and growing. More people are turning to audio as a way to consume books as life becomes seemingly busier.

For indie authors and publishers there are several ways forward in getting your book turned into an audio version. For this post I’m focusing on ACX with a few alternative suggestions at the end.

acx

The most popular platform is the ACX marketplace where narrators/producers and authors/publishers can link up to get the production done.  Using ACX also gives you easy syndication access to Audible, Amazon and iTunes.

As an author you can search by type of voice, gender, accent and other criteria to find narrators to work with.

We simply added our book details, entered some meta data as well as a pitch that focused on our marketing plan. Simply showing the narrator that we are willing to do promotions and marketing for the end product definitely helps if you want to do a royalty split. You also need to upload a sample to be used as an audition piece.

The next step was finding a narrator. Once live your book shows up on the market it can be viewed by narrators. However I took a more proactive approach and submitted to narrators directly, inviting them to audition.

acx-narrators

I was strictly looking for British male voices that were willing to do the royalty split deal.

Once you have found a narrator or producer who has agreed to do your audition and you have approved it the next step is to set a deadline and upload your manuscript. Our narrator uploaded chapters as he did them.

Give your audio a careful listen through. I read through my manuscript as I was listening in order to keep the book as close to the audio version as possible. This was because I wanted the audiobook to be whisper sync ready. Whisper sync is where the listener can jump between their Kindle version and the audiobook without losing their place. If you’re adapting the audio version (abridged) then you won’t be able to have a whisper sync version.

Once approved the audiobook will become available after around 5 days and after that ACX will send you codes that you can give to a select audience to garner reviews.

Financial options:

The royalty breakdown is as follows:

Royalty Share with Exclusive Distribution to Audible.
40% of retail sales split between the Rights Holder and Producer. Each party gets 20% of total retail sales.

Pay For Production (Flat Fee) with Exclusive Distribution to Audible.
40% of retail sales paid to Rights Holder.

Pay For Production (Flat Fee) with Non-Exclusive Distribution Rights to Audible.
25% of retail sales paid to Rights Holder.

Cons to the exclusive deal:
Tied to them for 7 years. You cannot sell your audiobook anywhere else once you’ve opted into their deal.

Fairly hefty cut. They keep 75%-60% depending on which option you take so if you do a split percentage exclusively you’ll end up with 20% (60% to ACX and the remaining 40% split between you and the narrator.)

Doesn’t sound great, does it? The reason we have taken this option for our early works is simply down to the cost of production. Paying a narrator just isn’t affordable at the moment with other costs eating the funds so to be able to team up with a talented narrator who will work for a percentage makes perfect sense to us right now.

However I’m really keen to look at alternatives for future books and did investigate the options.

Alternatives to ACX:

There are alternative ways to produce audiobooks from recording the audio yourself to using platforms such as ListenUpCD baby, Author’s republic and Infinity Publishing. I haven’t personally used any of these methods but will be looking in alternatives for future audiobooks.

For a more indepth post on ACX alternatives check out Jane Friedman’s post here.

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