Audio Books–The Where: Audible/ACX

Want to publish your book as an Audio book, but not sure where to distribute it? Read on to find out “The Where” of Audio Book publishing. In this post, we are featuring the biggest distributor, Audible….

In our last blog, Audio Books–The HOW, we discussed the process required to produce an audio book. However, to market your audio book successfully, you need to distribute it through one or more marketing channels, where your fans can find it, buy it and download it. Now we will take a deeper dive into how this is done.

Overview of Audible/ACX

If you’ve been listening to audio books for very long, there’s no doubt you’ve heard about Audible. If you’ve ever thought they’re like the Amazon of audio books, then you won’t be surprised to know that Amazon owns Audible.  Because of the exclusive marketing agreement that Audible currently has with Amazon, and until recently, with iTunes, they control nearly 80% of the audio book distribution. Besides audio books, Audible also sells radio and TV programs, and audio versions of magazines and newspapers. Through its production arm, Audible Studios, Audible has also become the world’s largest producer of downloadable audiobooks.  Audible’s digital content is only accessible through special proprietary software, which is accessible only through a password protected account, and which discourages unauthorized-playback, thus protecting your books from copyright infringement.

Regardless of whether you are planning to narrate the book yourself or are planning to hire a professional narrator, your book must be on Amazon to begin with and you must set up an account on Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX.) ACX is a marketplace where authors, publishers, and other Rights Holders (RH) can connect with narrators and other producers capable of producing a finished audiobook.

There are many benefits to working through ACX. ACX makes it easy for independent authors/RH and small publishing companies, who do not have their own audio book production department, to publish their audio books. It is the largest distribution system available. Even other audiobook publishers distribute through them.  However, you need to be aware of how much in royalties you receive, how long you are locked in to “exclusive” distribution thru Audible, what countries you can market your book in and whether you can distribute your audio book in any other digital format, and whether you can gift your audio book or not.

Exclusivity and Royalties

7 Year Exclusive & Royalty Share (RS)  Exclusive distribution means that your audio book will only be available on Audible’s distribution channels, which currently include Audible, Amazon and iTunes and must be sold through a royalty share (RS) contract. Audiobooks distributed exclusively earn a 40% royalty while Audible/ACX keeps the other 60% AND you are locked into a 7-year exclusive contract to distribute ONLY through Audible and its channels.  That means you cannot distribute your audio book in any other site, channel, store or format. In addition, you are not allowed to have another narrator re-voice the book for you within that 7 year period. If you narrate the book, you keep the remaining 40%. If you have a narrator, then you split the remaining 40% in half with the narrator, so you each get 20%.

1 Year & Per Finished Hour (PFH) Choosing the PFH contract with your narrator puts you in a 1-year exclusive agreement with Audible. That means that, after 1 year, you can distribute your audiobook through any other channels and in any other format you choose. You may also switch to a different narrator if you want to have the book re-voiced down the road. You receive 40% of the royalties.

Non-Exclusive Distribution with Lower RS. A non-exclusive distribution means that you are immediately able to also sell and distribute your completed audio book through other distribution channels, stores or in other formats, such as on CD. Your books will still be distributed through Audible and all of its channels. If a narrator is involved, non-exclusive projects may not be published as a Royalty Share project and must be completed as a Pay-for-Production. If your audio book is distributed non-exclusively through ACX, you will earn a 25% royalty rather than 40%

NOTE however, that Audible’s exclusive contract with iTunes has ended. While this has not yet seriously affected Audible’s market share, it may down the line, and is a reason to keep the issue of exclusive distribution in mind when choosing to work with Audible/ACX.

For a more indepth review of the differences between RS, Hybrid, and PFH contracts, see “Audibooks—The How

Other Issues

Restrictions on Regions  As the RH, you select the regions of the world in which you wish to distribute the book AND in which Audible can sell the book. The reason for these limitations is that audiobooks sales, like anything else, are regulated by governments.  Different governments have different laws about what can and cannot be sold. Audible/Amazon may be able to accommodate some restrictions and not others. Thus, they sell in some countries and not others.

Restrictions on Gifting Audible allows you to gift memberships to Audible, but not individual audio books.

Restrictions on Format ACX only produces audio books in Audible’s proprietary software. It will not produce your audio book for sale as a CD, DVD, or any other digital format.

How To Publish an Audio Book through Audible/ACX

First Steps  In order to get an audio book published on Audible, the following steps are necessary regardless of whether you are planning to narrate the book yourself or are planning to hire a professional narrator.

  1. Your book must be distributed on Amazon, either in print or Kindle format, before you can publish it as an audiobook on Audible. If you have an exclusive marketing agreement with a publisher other than Amazon, they must be willing to sell the book through Amazon.
  2. Verify that you, the Author, are the rights holder (RH). If you are independently published, then you retain the rights to your audio book. If you have signed a contract with an agent or publisher, you must check your contract. Search for which rights were granted to the publisher, for example, audio, digital or all rights. If the language is unclear, call your agent or attorney. Only proceed if you are the legal RH. ACX requires this confirmation as the first step.
  3. Go to and set up an account as an author
  4. Claim your title. If you have more than one copy of the same book on Amazon, claim the best one

To Narrate & Produce the Book Yourself

  1. Narrate and produce the audio book, using the guidelines provided in Audio Books—The How”
  2. Be sure that your audio files meet ACX’s Audio Submission Requirements
  3. Select I have this book in audio and I want to sell it.
  4. Choose territories and terms of distribution.
  5. Review and accept ACX’s terms.
  6. Upload your audio book section by section to ACX.

To Choose a Narrator to Produce your Audio book

  1. Create a Title Profile. This is a description of your book which helps indicate the kind of narrators best suited for your book.
  2. Choose an audition script. Make sure that it is a representative sample of the book. It should include the main characters, their gender, dialects, use of foreign words, or technical terms that occur throughout the book. It should be no more than about 800 words or 5 minutes finished narration
  3. Choose how you wish to pay the narrator, RS or PFH, as described above
  4. Post your book and audition sample and find a producer.
  5. Review auditions from producers. Listen carefully to the entire audition and the passages as they read. Decide if they express the right emotional tone for the passages? Do they convincingly portray each distinctive character? Do you enjoy listening to them? Would your customers enjoy the voice? You can also go to the producer’s ACX page to listen to their samples and learn more about them and their body of work.
  6. Make an Offer. You’ll want to visit the Producer’s profile page and click “Make Offer” below their photo image. When the Producer accepts, remember to send them the manuscript so they can begin recording the first 15 minutes of your book.
  7. Set deadlines for production. Allow time for the Producer to send you the first 15 minutes of your book and the final submission of all files. You must also consider the time you’ll need to listen and approve the entire audiobook and for the narrator to make corrections, if needed.
  8. Work with your Narrator. The first 15 minutes helps you establish your working relationship. Both of you still have the option to decline at this point if it doesn’t seem like a good fit. You can evaluate the recording and approve or decline. Even if you like it, you may have some suggestions or corrections. This is the best point to begin a dialogue with your Narrator. Generally, the narrator wants you to be happy and is open to comments (and kudos!) about their performance.
  9. Once you approve the first 15 minutes, you’re in contract together. Your Producer will begin full production. After you’ve listened to your finished audiobook, you can request up to 2 rounds of corrections.
  10. Secure and upload your audio book cover. Cover art should meet ACX’s cover art requirements. It should be eye catching and be able to draw in the potential listener.
  11. Begin marketing. Whether through blogging, social media, website or other means, start now to whet your fans’ appetite for audio and ensure that anticipate the day your audiobook goes on sale. Note that you will receive a set of free production codes from ACX to give to potential reviewers and to promote your audiobook. Start now to determine how you will use them.
  12. Review the final submission. Listen to all of the audiophiles carefully. Note errors in pronunciation, missing words or phrases, or duplicatons. Make a list of corrections, noting the page number/time slot of the error so that the narrator can easily make the “punches”.
  13. Approve the audiobook. Listen carefully to files that required corrections. If the corrections have been satisfactorily made. This is your audiobook and you should make sure that it is ready for market. After you make the final approval, any errors that you missed can be corrected, but the narrator may charge for their time to do so.
  14. ACX runs the audio files through a quality assurance check. This takes one to two week.
  15. The audiobook goes on sale!! Throw a launch party, tell all your friends, and start marketing in earnest.

In our next post, we’ll explore options to narrating and publishing audio books outside of ACX/Audible in Audio Books–The Where: Findaway

ACX hot link for authors:

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©2018, Becky White, The Voicing Expert, all rights reserved

2 thoughts on “Audio Books–The Where: Audible/ACX”

  1. Great article, Becky! Very thorough and informative! Once an audiobook published, where do you market it and how do you get the word out? What’s been the most successful for you in terms of getting sales?

  2. Kim
    Thank you for your kind words. I hope to do a blog on this topic in the future. But this is the quick and dirty.

    Generally, the author has more marketing clout than a narrator. If the book is a royalty share title, I usually ask about the author’s marketing plan when we are in negotiations. I always”friend” the author’s FB or Twitter account and make sure all of my postings are picked up there.

    Having said that, rather than trying to make sales, I try to help get reviews posted on Audible. Sometimes, I use Audio Book Boom, where you can request reviews in return for an Audible production code. I also post to Facebook, Twitter and websites that are pertinent to the books topic, inviting members of those groups to review in exchange for a code or offering a giveaway. I encourage the author to host a virtual audio book launch using Facebook or Twitter and I attend it if they do.

    Hope that helps

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