Audiobooks with ACX: Should Self-Published Authors Do It? PART ONE

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Amazon has done it again—revolutionized the book market for self-published authors. Through two Amazon-owned companies, ACX.com (for production) and Audible.com (for distribution), now any indie author with a computer connection, some up-front money and a finished manuscript can turn their written words into a professional-grade listening experience for any reader.

It’s not the simplest thing to achieve in the world (a bit more involved than uploading a MOBI file to KDP, for instance), but like all of Amazon’s ventures for authors, the website is user-friendly and the process seems pretty streamlined.

Below, we explore some of the main facets of creating an audiobook with ACX:

How Does It Work?

First, you create (or use) your Amazon account on ACX.com, and claim the rights to your book (it would need to be sold on Amazon for the server to find it).

Next, you create a “Title Profile” for your book, describing the premise of your book, as well as any character traits/voices, accents, and other unique things that your book has to offer for potential Producers. Those who find your book interesting will “audition” to narrate and produce your book, utilizing a book sample you provide.

Once a Producer is selected, either by your choice to reach out to potential Producers who’ve caught your eye or vice versa, then a payment plan is decided upon, of two options: 1) To split royalties 50/50 and not put any money up front, or 2) or a one-time commission based on ACX’s designated “per-finished-hour” rate designated for the project.

Indie & self-published #authors here are the in's and out's of using @acx_com to #market your book Share on X

How Much Does It Cost?

The ACX website states that the general estimation for an upfront commission is around 400 dollars altogether, around $200 for the narration and another $100-200 for the post-production work, which includes editing, QC, mixing and mastering, etc. If you don’t have that kind of money, then the other option some Producers offer (not all) is the 50/50 royalty split.

How Do You Choose a Producer?

ACX has two titles for the individuals you may end up hiring for the production of your audiobook: Narrators (those who read/perform the book), and Studio Professionals (editing/mastering engineers, recording studio owners, etc.). In order for your book to reach ACX’s audiobook submission standards, a list of guidelines must be followed by those who want to work with you. Typically, either a Narrator will collaborate with various Studio Professionals to send you a completed audiobook within the allotted time designated in the contract (estimated between three and eight weeks), or a Narrator offers all facets of the project in their overall fee.

 Who Gets The Rights To The Audiobook?

If you choose the exclusive rights distribution with ACX, then they and Audible.com possess the complete audiobook distribution rights for seven years after the finished audiobook is delivered to Audible (read their contract for several loopholes regarding this, however, in general this applies). This does not mean that Audible owns the copyright or rights to your book, per the ACX Audiobook Production Standard Terms: “Rights Holder will retain all right, title, and interest in and to the Book and the Audiobook, including the copyright in the Book and the sound recording copyright in the Audiobook.”

If you choose to split royalties with your Producer 50/50 instead of paying the one-time commission fee for their work, then that also means they still never gain any copyright over your book. As continued in the ACX Audiobook Production Standard Terms: “Producer agrees that the Audiobook is a ‘work made for hire’ to the full extent permitted by law, with all copyrights in the Audiobook owned by Rights Holder.”

Stay tuned for Part Two of this series, discussing royalty distribution, exclusivity rules, issues that may arise with the quality of an audiobook, and special Audible incentives to make more money as an author!