Audiobooks are all the buzz and we have been getting questions from authors on what the process and options are for turning an ebook into an audiobook. We did the research and here are our findings.
There are two components to self-publishing your audiobook: 1) Audiobook Production and 2) Audiobook Distribution
(This post was originally published in 2018)
Audiobook production is the process by which your written book is narrated and recorded into an audiobook. When it comes to audiobook production you have two options: You can record the audiobook yourself or you can hire a professional to record your audiobook.
Recording an Audiobook yourself
To narrate your own audiobook you will need a quiet place to record, equipment and software, time and some technical expertise. The equipment and software you need will likely cost less than $200. By far the biggest investment will be in the times it takes you to narrate your book and the time it takes you to edit your audio files in post-production.
How long will it take to read your book?
Audible uses 9,400 words per hour as the estimate for professional narrators. If you apply this to your book, you can assume that a 70,000-word novel will be approximately 7.5 finished hours as an audiobook. It’s fair to budget about two times the length of the finished audiobook for total recording time to account for retakes, breaks during the session, and giving your voice some time to rest!
How long will it take to edit your audio files?
After you have recorded your audiobook you will have to listen to the entire book and fix or re-record poor audio spots. You will also have to get the files ready for upload. This process will likely take 3-4 times the length of the fully recorded audiobook. So, for an audiobook of 70,000 words, you can budget an additional 20-30 hours of post-production work.
TCK Publishing has an in-depth step by step guide on recording your own audiobook you can use for reference.
It is most common for authors to perform their audiobook themselves in non-fiction where the voice the audience expects to hear is consistent with the author’s voice. It’s less common in fiction where the depth of characters and potential range of voice ages, accents, or dialects can become overwhelming and, perhaps, better suited for a professionally trained voice actor.
Hiring a professional to record your audiobook
Many authors choose to hire a professional to record their audiobook. When hiring a professional narrator the process usually goes like this:
- You create an account at one of the audiobook publishers or production companies (I’ll walk you through some popular options below.)
- You find a narrator (sometimes called producer) by listening to their auditions.
- You and the narrator reach an agreement on how much they will get paid for each finished hour of the audiobook.
- The narrator will record and upload the audiobook, which you will then approve. You pay the producer and receive your audio file.
How much does professional narration cost?
The cost to produce a professionally narrated audiobook depends on the length of your book, the service you use and the quality of the narrator. Many ACX actors are members of the SAG-AFTRA union, and as members, they can accept no less than $250 per finished hour for audiobook projects. You can use our calculator below to estimate the cost of professional audiobook production. We recommend using $225-$300 for the per finished hour (PFH) cost.
Note: ACX has an option to pay the narrator a reduced upfront fee in exchange for future royalties. We have outlined how this works in Option 1 below.
Once you have your audio file you are ready to distribute your audiobook!
Back in 2020, we reported that Amazon has the lion’s share of the audio market through Audible. Remember, there are other players out there in addition to Audible. Audiobooks.com and iTunes, along with services like Google Play Audiobooks, Kobo Audiobooks, Blinkist, Libby/Overdrive, and Scribd, make up a large segment of the market for online sales.
Your first decision will be whether you want to be exclusive to Amazon/Audible/iTunes by distributing through ACX or whether you want to have non-exclusive distribution that will enable you to get your book on Amazon/Audible/iTunes AND other retailers, services and libraries like Google Play Audiobooks, Kobo, Nook, Libby/Overdrive and Scribd. The benefit to being exclusive to Amazon is that you will receive higher royalty rates as discussed below. The benefit to non-exclusive distribution is that your book will be available at many more retailers.
ACX is Audible’s (owned by Amazon) full-service audiobook production and distribution arm. With ACX you can distribute to Amazon, Audible and iTunes. You have 3 options for audiobook production and distribution with ACX:
Exclusive to ACX Options
Option 1 – You decide to be exclusive to ACX. You find a narrator that is willing to record your audiobook for a reduced upfront cost in return for a share of future royalties. ACX pays you 40% in royalties, which are split 50/50 with the narrator.
Option 2 – You decide to be exclusive to ACX. You find a narrator and pay them the full upfront fee for narrating your audiobook. ACX pays you 20% in royalties on audiobook sales. Your producer receives an equal share of sales of the completed audiobook.
With these two exclusive options, you are tied into a 7-year exclusivity contract with ACX. Some authors have had luck asking ACX to break their contract after the first 12 months of the contract has passed, however you will need to enter into the agreement expecting that your book will be exclusive for the full seven years.
Non-Exclusive to ACX Options
Option 3 – You decide not to be exclusive to ACX. You find a narrator and pay them the full upfront fee for narrating your audiobook. ACX pays you 25% of retail sales. You cannot split royalties with a producer if you pick the non-exclusive option with ACX. Note that ACX penalizes you on the royalty rate if you choose the non-exclusive agreement. However, if you decide to be non-exclusive to ACX, you have other options for your audiobook production and distribution.
A Note on ACX Pricing
Authors who publish through ACX cannot set the price of their audiobook. The ACX website provides the following guidelines on pricing:
While not always the case, the regular price on Audible for the product is generally priced based on its length, as follows:
• 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
To be clear, although the above represents general guidelines for Audiobooks sold on the Audible website, Audible retains sole discretion to set the price of the Audiobooks it sells.
The following table summarizes the three ACX distribution options that we outline above:
2) Findaway Voices
Findaway Voices provides audiobook production and distribution services. Findaway Voices champions an open audiobook market where authors and publishers choose where to sell their audiobooks and at what price to sell them. They’ve built a robust, global distribution network that makes it easy for authors to sell their audiobooks through more than 40 audiobook sellers across retail, library, and school markets–including, as of September 2022, Spotify. This distribution network reaches more than 190 countries around the world. They also give authors full control over pricing (with the exception of Audible which prices based on length as noted above). Findaway Voices also has a unique partnership with Draft2Digital, where Draft2Digital authors can easily connect to Findaway Voices through their Draft2Digital account and quickly start creating a new audiobook or distributing an existing one.
“Audible has been the primary game in town for so many years, which means most audiobooks are sold through their credit-subscription model. That’s changing, now, as new entrants into audiobooks are providing more pure play retail options where authors will have the freedom to control their prices, run discounts and promotions, and generally experiment with distribution strategies that were previously unavailable. We’re barely scratching the surface at what will be available for authors with sales, marketing, and distribution!” says Kelly Lytle of Findaway Voices.
Royalty Share: Findaway Voices pays authors 80% of the royalties they receive from retailers. If you are distributing to Audible/Amazon/iTunes through Findaway Voices, Audible will pay Findaway Voices the 25% non-exclusive royalty (ACX option 3 above) and Findaway Voices will give the author 80% of the royalty and keep 20% of the royalty. We have illustrated this in the pie chart below.
For non-Audible retailers, Findaway will receive a 40%-50% royalty from these retailers. Findaway Voices will give the author 80% of the royalty and keep 20% of the royalty. For example, on a book that retails for $10 on Nook, Nook will pay Findaway Voices a 45% royalty on the book price, which is a $4.50 royalty. Findaway will give the author $3.60 (80% of the $4.50 royalty) and keep $0.90 (20% of the $4.50 royalty).
3) Lantern Audio
Formerly ListenUp Audiobooks, Lantern Audio has been one of the publishing industry’s top audio production companies. Lantern offers Indie Authors and Publishers Audiobook production and non-exclusive distribution services, paying 75% to Authors of the royalties they receive from retailers and libraries in over 190 countries. Authors can set their own prices with Lantern, and are informed of each Distributor’s distinct parameters for how they price their audiobooks, with a determining factor being the length of the audiobook.
There is a $199 upfront fee to prepare and distribute your audiobook with Lantern. “We have exceptional Narrators and Producers and are always striving to create a perfect audiobook, offering the ears a wonderful listening experience,” says Diane Lasek of Lantern.
Royalty Share: Lantern pays authors 75% of the royalties they receive from retailers. If you are distributing to Audible/Amazon/iTunes through Lantern, Audible will pay Lantern the 25% non-exclusive royalty (ACX option 3) and Lantern will give the author 75% of the royalty and keep 25% of the royalty. We have illustrated this in the pie chart below.
For non-Audible retailers like Google, Kobo, and Nook, Lantern will receive a 40%-50% royalty from these retailers. Lantern will give the author 75% of the royalty and keep 25% of the royalty.
4) Author’s Republic
Author’s Republic is a distributor of audiobooks. They also provide production services so that authors can choose and pay narrators, then begin distributing their work. “Author’s Republic has very relaxed publisher agreement terms, and you can terminate your agreement with them at any time if you so choose,” says Mike of Author’s Republic.
Royalty Share: Author’s Republic pays authors 70% of the royalties they receive from retailers. If you are distributing to Audible/Amazon/iTunes through Author’s Republic, Audible will pay Author’s Republic the 25% non-exclusive royalty (discussed above) and Author’s Republic will give the author 70% of the royalty and keep 30% of the royalty. We have illustrated this in the pie chart below. For non-Audible retailers like Google, Kobo, Nook, Libby/Overdrive, Scribd, etc., Author’s Republic’s royalty rates differ by partner – some use the author provided MSRP, some are rental prices, and some are library prices. Generally, Author’s Republic receives a 50% royalty rate from their retail partners. Author’s Republic will give the author 70% of the royalty and keep 30% of the royalty.
You know it, you love it: Kobo enables self-publishers to upload, promote, and sell eBooks and audiobooks. As of September 2019, authors who utilize Kobo can now begin making sales on audiobooks through the site. Self-publishers interested in promoting their audiobook here will see distribution to Kobo.com, Walmart, Indigo (Canada’s largest bookstore), and Bol (a shopping platform in the Netherlands and Belgium). However, your audiobook is not required to be exclusive to Kobo and its partners once it is distributed there.
Royalty Share: The royalty threshold for Kobo audiobooks is broken down as follows:
- 32% royalty rate (applicable to subscription purchases)
- 0% royalty rate (if a customer uses a free trial token on your audiobook)
- 35% royalty rate (for audiobooks priced at $2.99 or below)
- 45% royalty rate (for audiobooks priced above $2.99)
Of course, you also have the option of offering your audiobook for free through Kobo.
Many of you are likely familiar with PublishDrive, a self-publishing service that reaches 400+ online stores and 240,000+ libraries. Not only does the PublishDrive team provide services for eBook and print-on-demand distribution, but they also enable authors to get their audiobooks out into the world.
If you begin distributing your audiobooks through PublishDrive, you’ll be reaching markets in North America, Europe, and China with partners including Audible, Kobo, and Libby/OverDrive. Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to tap into some of PublishDrive’s promotional options like automatic price promotions, Amazon Ads, and review tracking. The combination of managing, distributing, and promoting bundles much of a self-publisher’s daily work into a one-stop shop.
Royalty Share: PublishDrive enables authors to keep up to 60% of their royalties through their pricing model, though this is dependent on the store (for more information, check out this page). For more information on royalty rates by store, check out this page.
The following table summarizes the information we have discussed above for non-exclusive audiobook distribution. Please note that you could take a hybrid approach and distribute directly through ACX Non-Exclusive to get the full 25% royalty rate and then use one of the other audiobook distributors to get your book onto Audiobooks.com, Google, Nook, Scribd, etc. Click on the image to open a larger version.
Those are the ins and outs of publishing your audiobook. As we’ve covered in this article, audiobook production and audiobook distribution are generally closely linked due to the exclusivity precedent set by ACX. However, as with most things self-publishing, authors can choose between exclusivity and control for audiobook distribution, and DIY or professional help for audiobook production. We hope this article has helped to clearly lay out all the options so you can easily evaluate how to take the next step. Have you published an audiobook? Tell us about it in the comments.
80 comments on “How to Publish an Audiobook: Your Guide to Audiobook Production and Distribution”
This is excellent and has come at the right time as I want to publish audio books etc – so many thanks for the clear / concise information.
Hey, if you need narration- i can do a multitude of accents and voices..! 😉
I need a narrator with multiple accents. link me up on facebook/uzorlonjys
Hi Uzor, Do you still need a narrator? I have been a professional voice actor for 23 years. If you’d like I can send you some samples of my work but in the meantime, here’s a YouTube video of some of the accents I can do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm-rODFFj3Q&t=30s
Hi Andrew, very impressed by your talent for accents. I am searching for a narrator to read my novel which is at present in Kindle format.
Are you available, and what are your rates?
All the best……Colin
This is a fantastic overview of the distribution arena. Thank you so much for covering it in such depth and detail. Very helpful!
Thank you for writing this and sharing your information. I am in tne process of recording my book myself and plan to use ACX exclusively but had no idea it was for 7 years! That’s a long time. So I guess that means if a publisher wants to pick it up they cannot due to the 7 year commitment … or maybe that shouldn’t even be a concern or factor at this stage. Maybe the main focus should be is to just to get it out there.
Thank you for this detailed and clearly written discussion of audiobook production. I’m thinking to move forward with my plans for my novel and this information is helpful.
One finesse on the details you have laid out above. It is permitted to distribute non-exclusively through ACX AND simultaneously through Authors’ Republic. This means you get the $2.50 (in your example above) from ACX rather than $1.75 frrom ACX via Authors’ Rebublic.
Great point Allan! Yes, you can choose to distribute non-exclusively through ACX to get your audiobook on Amazon/Audible/iTunes and then use Author’s Republic to distribute to the other retailers. Thanks for pointing that out.
Thanks for the note, Allan. I’m thinking of something similar except with Findaway Voices. I just published one book with Findaway and so far, so good. One thing I’m missing is any kind of sales dashboard. I see that with ACX. For my next book, maybe I’ll do ACX to cover Amazon and iTunes and then Findaway for the rest.
Findaway has been wonderful in helping me get the files just right, even to the point of helping me with Audacity settings to fix things.
P.S. I’m an author who is also recording my own audio so no sharing issues.
This is a great article. One of the best I’ve read about audiobooks. Thank you for putting in the detailed charts. It makes comparing and choosing the best option much easier. I currently use ACX and have had a great experience. The only thing I really hope to see in 2018 is some channels to specifically advertise audiobooks, like AMS Ads for kindle ebooks. If you know of any out there please share. Also some audiobook only mailing lists would be a great resource.
Thank you Christina! NewInBooks has an audiobook audience of about 25k readers who listen to audiobooks if you are looking for an audiobook mailing list to try.
Thank you for this information. I do want to publish an audiobook or two.
Hi Judy, they did forget to mention Pro Audio Voices, I would highly recommend researching us when researching audiobook production!
Wonderful information. I’m a first time author and am finding as I near completion of my book that publishing and marketing are an area that I know little of. Thank you, this is very helpful.
Thank you. I have written several books that are sitting on shelf unedited (professionally) I chose one that is being edited now with the mindset to self publish it this year. I have a friend at the starbucks I hang out with at who was blind for 15 years and now has limited vision. We would get into conversations about my stories. (As I am a storyteller and enjoy talking about them and he being entertained) He suggested once I get published to consider audiobooks. I would definitely need to employ an actor(s). This was very informative and I saved it on my computer for the future. Thank you!
I’ll be able to post more experiences soon, but I just published my first audiobook with Findaway Voices and the experience was easy and supportive.
I’m debating whether or not to do my next book (a nonfiction book which is doing well on Amazon) through ACX non-exclusive and Findaway for the rest. Partly because I’d like more insight into stats, but also for the larger share of the royalty.
Hmm, I just realized something however: I think with ACX, I can’t set the price. I’d like control over the price (sales, specials, etc.).
Thanks again for the excellent post!
Sounds like our AMPlify program might be what you’re looking for as part of your overall distribution plan. ProAudioVoices.com
If you’re interested in learning more about Pro Audio Voices and how we can help you control the price of your audiobook, please research us! If you need help with producing, publishing and marketing an audiobook, we’d be happy to help. This article is a great starting point, but there is a lot more to learn. We also offer higher royalties than the listed options in this article.
Hands down the best article I found after much searching – thank you! (Why is always so hard to get complete, accurate Indie publishing information?)
I read a comment elsewhere that I’m trying to confirm or (hopefully) disprove. When you enter an eBook in the Kindle Select program, does the Amazon exclusivity automatically apply to an audiobook version as well? If, sad to say, you tell me the answer is yes, then this would be a significant difference to highlight, as ads in daily free eBook newsletters have been by far and away my most effective marketing tools.
Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
Hi Andy – With KDP Select the exclusivity only extends to the ebook, not to the audiobook. If you decide to publish your audiobook with the ACX exclusive options, then your audiobook will be exclusive to ACX but your ebooks are not exclusive to Amazon. Basically, each program has exclusivity to the format but does not require umbrella exclusivity across all formats.
Thanks, Ricci. It sounded wrong to me when I read it, but I wanted to be sure. And thanks again for the great article.
You’re very welcome 🙂
Hello, discovering this just now, as I learn about audiobook production. Question: You indicate how to estimate reading time and then how to estimate editing time. Does “finished hours” reflect the sum total of both those activities (reading and editing)? And when you say to expect to pay a professional narrator $225-$300/finished hour, should that be calculated just on reading time, or on reading time + editing time? Thanks!
Hey Allison, “finished hours” refers to the length of the product the listener will receive in the end. So with reading and editing, a “finished hour” could take 4 or more hours to actually produce. In our example, you aren’t paying an hourly fee for time worked, but a fixed amount for each hour of the final product. Hope that answers your question.
From what I’ve seen here on each of the websites, it seems best to use three platforms. ACX for non-exclusive distribution to Amazon/Audible/iTunes to get the most royalties through those (25%). Then, Author’s Republic for the royalties on Credit/Subscription plans. Then Findaway Voices for whatever the other two do not distribute to. That’s if you’re looking for good royalties and don’t mind having three accounts.
Questions: does anyone know how to distribute to christianaudio.com?
Gosh, you just indicated everything I need. Thank you so much for making it easy to understand and learn. Because of this, I can proceed will all new learnings from your blog.
Thanks Denice! We’re glad this information helped.
Your post is helpful in so far as it goes, but I would love to see suggestions for those mavericks who actually have their own website and would like to sell audiobooks directly, rather than giving away a chunk of the profits to distributors. I have enough of a following at my website that my plan is to start out by selling our audiobooks exclusively there…this way we get 100% of the profits, at least at first. Once sales slow down, we will probably add the audiobook to Audible or another distributor, but until then, we are looking for secure ways to deliver the audio files. Any suggestions?
Hey Lisa, Great idea to sell directly and independently to readers. With a solid following and the technical know-how, it seems like a great way to maximize your earnings. Unfortunately proprietary audio distribution is not something we are currently versed in at Written Word Media, but I would love to hear how it goes for you!
Take a look at Awesound.com. Customers can buy with a specific link to your book, listen on Awesound’s media player, or download to a podcast app. You set the price, and Awesound takes 20%.
Short of hosting the audio files yourself, as Scott Brick does, this seems a good way to avoid the big distributor fees.
Awesound has been a stepping stone for us that initially made our AMPlify program possible, but it’s a bit clunky in the customer experience, so we at Pro Audio Voices are having our own AMPlify app built so we can bring together and achieve our goals of great customer experience, highest author royalties, author control (discount codes, pricing, access to customer emails, etc).
Hey Lisa, this is the challenge we’ve been working on for the last couple years. Getting a great customer experience is a really challenge with just selling a download of audio files. You’ll need a good delivery system. We’ll be releasing our AMPlify app December 1, as an upgrade to our existing AMPlify program. While it won’t provide 100% profit, it’s the highest in the industry and offers more control than any of the options noted in the article. ProAudioVoices.com
Well researched and written. As one other poster said, it is difficult to find well grounded indie publication content. The business of running a book selling business has many plot twists. Thank you for writing especially the tables
Great content and much appreciated by me as well as everyone who commented. Thanks to you providing such clarity, I feel ready to go ahead now and do what has been waiting for many years! It has been daunting on account of being a book of 160,000 words. However, the printed version has sold half a million copies. Once upon a time, a book would sometimes be sold together with a CD – is it perhaps done these days for an audio-file to get included with ebook or printed version? As a promotion, perhaps? I have never heard of it, hence my question.
Congrats on the success of your book! CDs are rarely worth the cost of producing these days, and with a long book makes for many CDs in a set – increasing the cost considerably. There are ways to put together a promotion and bundle. Especially if you have an option like AMPlify from Pro Audio Voices.
I am musician/writer from Austria who wants to publish his last audio book in the US, and I fell over this great article. But then I heard something about the platform Spoken Realms, but I couldn’t find out any details on their share and price policy. Do you know something about them?
Thanks so much and regards,
Hey Stefan, We’ve never worked with them, but from their site it appears that you work out price with the narrator you choose. I would recommend reaching out to them to learn more if you are interested.
Thanks so much Clayton for your reply. That’s actually what I was planning to do. I’m just amazed by the variety of publishers on your site. And I don’t know which one to choose…
Yes it’s certainly a crowded space! I learn about a new one every month it seems like.
How does one become a narrator of an Audiobook?
Would it possible to share your insights on what could pre-qualify one for a potential career in narrating? Keen to have pointers, on where one could find such opportunities too!
I hired my narrator on VoiceRealm. May be worth checking out!
Hi What about StreetLib They say “This ensures you earn the same 60% of your list price.” (for audio book)
I was advised to consider feiyr.com and author’s republic as distributors for my audio book. Are either of these recommended?
Authors Republic is good –very responsive customer service, but their requirements for the mp3 files are more restrictive.
Authors Republic is good. Excellent customer service. You might also consider AMPlify at ProAudioVoices.com as an additional option to Authors Republic.
Thank you so much for posting this. I am at my wits end with ACX’s bad service.
Are there currently any audiobook distributors willing to consider selling audiobooks created with ai? Audiobooks created with ai are getting better and better. Speechelo is one whose quality is getting quite good. I see no harm in letting prospective buyers know that the audiobooks have been created using artificial intelligence. My books include short stories using a variety of ai voices.
I am the executive producer of a dramatized adaption of “A Christmas Carol”. The dramatized production is 1hour and 58 minutes long. It has a cast of 29 with sound effects and narration. I am now considering this as an Audio Book. Your thoughts of who best to talk with. Appreciate your interest in helping others.
For a more theatrical production like you’ve described, you should talk to Pro Audio Voices. Creative productions like this are our speciality!
Thanks so much for sharing this article. I learn so much about audiobook production and distribution
I’m a first time author finishing up my spoken word audiobook. If I record with an outside producer that isn’t through and of these distributors would I still be able to upload and distribute my work through these channels as long as it was in the right file format?
Yes, absolutely. The companies mentioned in this post are distributors. You can upload your own files and they distribute. You do not need to produce the audiobook using their services.
Yes! However, you’d need your files checked, and might want support through the distribution process. Pro Audio Voices can help with this, just book a call on the website. We produced a beautiful spoken word poetry audiobook, it would be great to get another one out into the world!
Great article and thank you!
One thing that has always bothered me about online audiobook sales is the mere fact there is no system of checks & balances in place for authors!
An author has to TRUST a CORPORATION that the number of sales THEY SAY occurred is indeed true! Ah…duh? I for one have a little problem affixing the word ‘trust’ with a corporate entity that exists only for one specific reason…to make money!
In music, there’s the Harry Fox Agency which in essence acts as a WATCHDOG to be sure ALL sales and royalty dollars are accounted-for and distributed. It came about because of all the writers and artists who were literally and scandalously RIPPED OFF by unscrupulous publishers and record companies… A.K.A. “Corporations”
To my knowledge, nothing like that exists in the online audiobook world so an author is left to BELIEVE what a corporation like Audible et. al. says is true! I for one tend to lean more toward believing in Santa Claus. ‘-)
The mere fact that Audible takes 75% of THEIR pronouncement of ACTUAL sales is sad at best despite their worldwide reach. And again, how MANY sales actually happen? YOU’LL never know!
Maybe, I’m alone in this interpretation but figured I’d at least post-it for nothing more than some Food for Thought before diving in. ‘-)
The one poster mentioned selling direct and I say…Here-Here! It’s a much harder and longer road BUT if the work’s really good…word will get around via self-promotion and word of mouth alone!
Again, thank you for the meaningful article!
Yes! There is so much more to this discussion about what actually is getting paid out. As President of Bay Area Publishers Assn for several years and CEO of Pro Audio Voices, this has been a huge frustration. We’ve put in place a way for authors to sell as direct as possible while also having a smooth and positive customer experience and more actual control.
You’ve nailed it!! That is exactly the challenge in this industry. At Pro Audio Voices we’ve created a way to put authors first, so they have control over their creative works! We have a system that is as close to direct-sale as is possible. Our goal is to minimize the middleman as much as possible! The challenge is the technical aspect of audiobooks… we have a solution so authors can give their customers a good experience, without having to become website/app developers themselves!
Great article. Most helpful indeed. I’ve had a number of audiobooks selling with Audible on exclusive contracts, so 40% royalties. There’s no doubt that Amazon does a very good job of marketing and the returns have been much better than I expected, although of course there are many outlets not reached by this method. However, I have produced a new one and now need to consider whether losing 15% on royalty payments through Audible will be returned with interest if I go non-exclusive. So far I have not been able to find any comparisons, but I’m going to take the plunge and find out. For sure there are some up-and-coming players out there trying to take on Amazon. Let’s see how it goes.
Authors deserve higher royalties and more control. They also deserve more transparency about actual royalties. I appreciate the breakdown of how a sale plays out in terms of royalty split. It’s feels deceptive when a distributor says they pay 70% but don’t say that’s actually 70% of 50%. You have to read the fine print. And keep in mind that Audible doesn’t pay the 24% or 40% of what the retail price it. It’s of what they choose to sell it for—even if they give it away to tease in a new subscriber. If you’re looking for the actual highest royalties available, check out AMPlify at ProAudioVoices.com.
You failed to mention how expensive PublishDrive is. As a small independent publisher we have more than 40 audiobooks currently but I’m not paying $99.99/month to go through PubDrive!
There are publisher discount options to get a catalog of books into audio, at least at ProAudioVoices.com.
I thought this information was great however as like other sites there is no mention on sites Australian’s can use to sell audibles. ACX refuses to allow aussies at this time to publish so please for the love of god help a woman out. i keep being sent to this page in mt searches.
Hey Krissie, companies like Findaway Voices or Draft to Digital should be able to help out. But unfortunately it seems that may the be only way to gain access to audible from Australia.
You can definitely get into Audible even if you’re in Australia. You just can’t go through ACX. We help clients from all over the world with audiobook production, distribution and marketing. ProAudioVoices.com
Hi! Great article! Thank you! I like the idea of going hybrid with ACX non-exclusive rights and then using other resources. Can I distribute through Kobo (to reach Walmart0, PublishDrive (to reach libraries), and Findaway or ListenUp to reach other retailers?
You just need to make sure that you’re not causing an overlap with iTunes, which can happen and cause problems. You might want to also consider AMPlify for the highest actual royalties. ProAudioVoices.com
How does one go about becoming an audiobook narrator?
Would you mind sharing your thoughts on the qualifications one may need to pursue a profession as a narrator? I’d love any advice on where to look for such possibilities!
Very helpful article, one of the best I’ve found. Thank you!
You’re best off with a home studio or you end up spending most of what you earn on studio costs. You can submit a demo to several platforms like ACX, Findaway, AuthorsRepublic, and ProAudioVoices.com.
Nobody every mentions e-Audio Productions (e-AudioProductions.com) with amazing service and high quality sound for their productions. And also their distribution has lower fees at 15% from the major retailers. Plus they set you up on ACX so you receive the payements from Audible directly without them holding a distribution fee..
Wonderful article! Becky Parker Geist and her excellent team at ProAudioVoices turned my four novels in the Adam Weldon thriller series into outstanding audiobooks. What a pleasure to work with such talented, professional people (including terrific narrators!) and what a delight to expand my audience to include the millions of people who nowadays do their reading by listening to audiobooks.
Sounds great! Could you please tell everyone just how much your cost was per Book to have produced?
I am surprised that Pro Audio Voices isn’t mentioned on this list! We offer the highest royalties to authors, even higher than the ones mentioned above! We produce both author narrated and professionally cast productions, and have a wide array of marketing solutions specifically for authors. We especially enjoy full-cast projects with music and sound effects. You can book a free discovery call with us today and learn why we’re different than the average production & marketing company.
Nice detailed article but it is lacking some info and a few things seem to not be up to date. (See further below) However, why isn’t e-Audio Productions mentioned? I have read great reviews both about their audio quality which they seem to take very seriously all done by professional audio enegineers and the customer experience. The distribution also seems wide and they pay out higher royalties. I did a free consultation with them which was very eye opening and they gave a lot of detailed information even about things not mentioned anywhere. Example. The Exclusive option period on ACX is no longer 7 years (as it mentioned in the article) but now is just 90 days. Also, regarding ACX royalties, they explained that the amounts 40% on exclusive or 25% on non exclusive is on A La Carte sales and that most on Audible are done by Audible subscribers as they use their monthly credits which is not A La Carte. In these cases, the rights holder receives an even lower amount. For production I have decided to go with with e-Audio because the audio quality seems top notch at decent rates but I wouldn’t mind paying a little more to get a great sounding audiobook. For distribution I am yet to decide even though I am leaning towards them to do it all together.
Thanks for the reply. We’ll definitely have to check out e-Audio Productions!
I’m a 200 year old former announcer-DJ-narrator-actor-producer who has worked in radio, TV & films with the likes of John Huston, Arthur Hiller, Leslie Nielsen, Jackie Gleason, Zsa Zsa Gabor, England’s Patrick Macnee, etc., and I have 13eBook titles on Amazon, some of which should perhaps become audiobooks. Obviously, I’ll record the narration, which I can do in my own office. But who should I contact for technical guidance?
Thank you for a wonderful overview of this audiobooks market. I’d like to know what you think of Awesound?
How does one go about getting a job narrating audiobooks? Would you mind expressing your opinions regarding the requirements one might need to pursue a career as a narrator? I’d appreciate any suggestions on where to hunt for similar opportunities!
Fantastic in depth how-to information. As an Author it gives me a much clearer picture of the reality of Audible Book Production and Distribution. Thanks again!👍😎😊🙏