Audiobook Publishing – Don’t Leave Money on the Table

audiobook publishingWhat separates today’s successful indie author from the struggling self-publisher? Besides the usual answers of a great cover, professionally edited manuscript and killer marketing plan, one item I see quite a few self-publishers missing the boat on – audiobooks.

Kudos to all you indie authors crushing it merely with the two preferred iterations in self-publishing – print and electronic. Many self-published authors are drawing four- to six-figure months with those two product types alone. But, when they forego downloadable audiobooks as a viable option in their self-publishing portfolio, they’re essentially saying, “I don’t like more money, and I certainly don’t like serving an additional audience who wouldn’t otherwise consume my content via ebook or print book.”

The early adopters of audiobook publishing are handsomely rewarded for their efforts with four-to five-figure months, and that’s based on audiobook sales alone. Why? A large and ever-growing market is chomping at the bit to consume downloadable audio content. And, many self-publishing industry experts echo the sentiment I do – audiobook sales will continue to soar in the coming years.

It’s Not Too Late to Get Into Audiobook Publishing

The good news is it’s not too late. In fact, the golden era of downloadable audiobooks has only just begun. And, if you’re willing to put in the additional effort, you stand to gain a lot. If only you’d go the extra distance in creating audiobook iterations of your content, you may discover an untapped market. But, how do you make audiobooks? And, where do you publish the audiobooks?

Enter the Amazon subsidiary Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), a distribution platform serving content to Amazon, Audible, and Apple iTunes. Though ACX reaches only four regions in the US, UK, Canada, and Ireland, don’t allow that to dissuade you from breaking ground now. As with any Amazon endeavor, I foresee ACX expanding and sharing the same reach as its counterparts in ebook and print book.

For those outside ACX’s reach, consider the alternatives in Findaway Voices or Author’s Republic. These two audiobook distribution platforms offer reasonable royalties and aggregate to additional platforms beyond ACX. I’d recommend breaking ground either way and don’t just wait for ACX to open distribution to all regions. But, given a choice, go with ACX if you’re new to audiobook publishing.

When producing audiobook content, you have two options:

  1. Hire a professional narrator
  2. Or, do it yourself

ACX isn’t just a platform for publishing your audiobook content. In fact, ACX acts as a bridge between the indie author and narrator communities. Thousands of qualified and experienced narrators have profiles and portfolios available to the public. This means you can look for the right narrator based on your project needs. To make matters easier, you can filter your search volume to genre, gender, language, accent, and the most important, compensation. After all, narrators have to pay their bills too.

Once you have a suitable narrator selected you have two types of agreements you can enter:

  1. Finished price per hour
  2. 50/50 royalty split

Finished price per hour is the best option, especially if you want to own the rights to the audio content. When paying a narrator per finished hour, you’re compensating the professional for the playtime of your content. The per finished hour rate might seem steep at first, but you have to account for the additional time it takes to prepare, record, edit and master high-quality audio files.

Price per finished hour ranges from as low as $25 to as high as $1,000 or more. This means if you have an hour-long audiobook, then your investment could be anywhere from $25 to $1,000. This does not account for creating the audiobook cover, so you have additional costs outside of paying the narrator.

However, if you’re working on a tight budget or can’t stand the risk of investing in an audiobook, then the 50/50 royalty split might be for you. This 7-year agreement means you’re willing to part ways with half your net profits with the narrator. The 50/50 royalty split places most of the risk on the narrator. If the audiobook takes off, then the narrator stands to gain far more than finished price per hour, especially over the 7-year agreement. Conversely speaking, if the audiobook is a dud, then the narrator lost a ton of invaluable time and energy in producing your audiobook.

I don’t recommend 50/50 royalty splits, because of the 7-year deal and the rather low royalty ACX provides. Wait…we didn’t cover that? Well, that’ll have to wait for another day, because the truth is there are many pros and cons to publishing exclusively through Audiobook Creation Exchange.

In the meantime, if you’d like to get a better overview of how to start publishing through the Audiobook Creation Exchange, then enroll in my free online course at

Till later, happy writing and profitable publishing!

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