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How to Create and Publish an Audiobook with ACX

So you want to publish an audiobook, maybe with ACX, but you’re not sure how. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading for the answers to all of your questions about creating, publishing, and getting paid with ACX.

What is ACX?

ACX is a platform owned by Amazon that lets authors create and publish audiobooks and earn money from the sales. 

When you publish an audiobook with ACX, it’s automatically available for purchase and download on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. 

How does it work? 

  1. You choose how your audiobook gets made: Either you record and produce it or you choose and pay for a narrator to produce it. 
  2. ACX distributes it, meaning they make it available for purchase on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Depending on the rights structure you choose, you may be able to distribute on other audiobook platforms as well. We’ll discuss that later. 
  3. Once your audiobook starts selling, you start making money. 

Before you start: Make sure you own the audiobook rights 

You can only publish an audiobook through ACX (or anywhere, really) if you own the audiobook rights. 

If you self-published your book, you own the rights. If you published your book through a publisher, you might own the rights. If you worked through a literary agent, you might own the rights. 

Check all the contracts your signed to determine whether you own the audiobook rights. 

Why use ACX?

ACX is a one-stop shop for creating, publishing, and distributing your audiobook. You can use the platform if you want to hire a professional narrator or if you prefer to narrate it yourself. 

How much does ACX cost and how much do I earn?

How much it costs to produce an audiobook and how much you earn depend on the production cost and royalty structure you choose. There are three options.

Pay for production 

In this model, you pay a one-time fee to produce your audiobook. How much that fee is depends on the narrator, or producer, you choose, but expect to pay roughly $50–$400 per hour. 

With the pay for production option, you can choose from two royalty structures: 

  • For 25% of retail sales on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, you retain the right to distribute your audiobook elsewhere. 
  • For 40% of retail sales on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, you give ACX exclusive distribution rights and you cannot distribute your audiobook elsewhere. 

Royalty share and royalty share plus 

In this structure, you pay nothing upfront to produce the book in exchange for a lower cut of the profits. You split your royalties with the audiobook producer, which means you get 20% of retail sales on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. 

You have the option to access a higher tier of producers for your project, but you’ll have to pay a one-time fee for that access. 

Note that some narrators choose to only work with the royalty share plus structure. 

DIY 

If you want to DIY your audiobook—in other words, you’re the narrator and audio engineer—you can do that on ACX. 

The royalty structure is the same as the pay for production structure, except it costs you nothing but your own time to create the audiobook. 

  • For 25% of retail sales on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, you retain the right to distribute your audiobook elsewhere. 
  • For 40% of retail sales on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, you give ACX exclusive distribution rights and you cannot distribute your audiobook elsewhere. 

Bounty payment 

Regardless of which structure you choose, ACX will pay you a $75 bonus if your audiobook is a new Audible user’s first listen. In other words, because you snagged them a new customer, they pay you a small bonus. 

How to create and publish an audiobook using ACX

Once you’re sure you own the audiobook rights, here’s how to get yours published.

  1. Create an ACX account 

Get registered on the platform: Provide a little information about your book, the type of narrator you’re looking for, and, if you plan to hire a narrator, the excerpt of your book you’d like for them to read to audition. 

  1. Choose a narrator/producer 

If you don’t plan to narrate your audiobook, you can find one through ACX. You can do this by browsing narrator profiles and listening to reading samples, or by inviting narrators to audition for your project. 

The platform lets you apply all kinds of filters to their catalog of available narrators: genre, gender, language, accent, cost, vocal style, voice age, location, and whether they’ve been “Audible approved.” 

Narrators charge different fees for their work, so it’s important to browse their profiles to check prices. Narrator profiles will also tell you about a narrator’s background and experience, other audiobooks they’ve narrated, whether they’ve received any awards or recognitions, and whether they voice characters, which is important for fiction writers. 

  1. Negotiate a deal and sign a contract 

Once you’ve chosen your producer, it’s time to negotiate a deal. ACX will produce the contract for you, but you need to specify things like hourly rate (unless you’ve opted for royalty share structure), and a deadline for the finished product. 

Once that’s signed and you’ve provided your narrator/producer with the full manuscript, they can start recording. 

  1. Do a quality check 

The narrator will record the first 15 minutes of the book and send it to you. You can approve the sample or provide notes. 

Once the narrator has produced the whole book, you can provide more notes, but you have just two rounds of feedback before the finished product. 

  1. Pay your narrator/producer 

How you do this and how much you pay depends on the hourly rate you agreed to in your contract. If you choose the royalty share structure, you don’t have to pay your producer anything, and in exchange get a cut of the sales.

  1. Distribute 

Once the final recording is done, you’re ready to distribute your audiobook. ACX does this on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes for all production structures, and if your distribution rights structure allows it, you can distribute on other networks/platforms as well. 

  1. Promote your book 

Once your audiobook is live and available for purchase, promote it on your author website, Audio Thicket, in your email newsletter, and on your social media channels. Drive sales and start getting paid! 

How much to sell your audiobook for

When you sell your audiobook through the ACX platform, the cost to readers depends on the length. ACX provides this list of prices for titles available on Audible. 

  • Under 1 hour: under $7 
  • 1–3 hours: $7–$10 
  • 3–5 hours: $10–$20 
  • 5–10 hours: $15–$25 
  • 10–20 hours: $20–$30 
  • Over 20 hours: $25–$35 

If you sell your audiobook through other platforms, pricing may be different. 

How do I get paid by ACX?

Every month you’ll get a royalty statement and payment in the form of direct deposit.

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