Creating an Audiobook With ACX
You’ve published your ebook on KDP and are now ready to diversify your income from it. Creating a paperback is pretty straightforward on KDP and the system walks you through it. However, audiobooks and ACX are a bit different.
Due to the fact that ACX is a separate platform from the KDP backend, many self-publishers get confused with the process of setting up an audiobook for sale. This leads them to avoid ACX entirely.
Audiobooks have become a major source of a self-publisher’s income and neglecting the fantastic opportunity ACX provides is the wrong thing to do. As you’ll learn in this guide, getting setup on ACX is pretty straightforward!
Creating an Amazon Audible Account
The first step you need to take is to open an account with ACX. While Audible is the customer-facing website, it’s backend is ACX, much like how the Kindle Store faces customers and KDP is the backend.
Do note that ACX is not available worldwide. As of current writing, it is open only to residents of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland.
In addition to this, you must have a valid tax identification number from one of these countries, local banking details, and an operational mailing address (not a P.O box.)
Your KDP account does not automatically link to ACX and you’ll have to follow the same steps as you did when you first set up on KDP. You’ll need to enter your name, address, and take the tax interview on the platform.
Take care to enter the same details and use the same email as you did for your KDP account. Your tax information should also be valid. If you happen to enter a tax status that implies you’re a non-resident of the countries mentioned above, ACX will automatically prevent you from opening an account.
Once you’ve entered your tax details and have updated your banking information, you’re all set to go. ACX will take some time to validate your tax details with the tax authorities.
This can take anywhere from a few days to a month to complete. You’ll be able to publish books only once this information has been validated.
In case of any delays, it’s best to contact the tax authorities directly since ACX will typically respond that they’re simply waiting for validation. This can be frustrating for you but patience pays!
You will receive an email notification from ACX once your information has been validated and you’ll be prompted to begin creating audiobooks.
How to Make an Audiobook on ACX
Now that your account is all set up, you’re ready to go! The first step you need to take is to ‘assert’ your titles on ACX. This is as simple as logging into ACX and navigating to your dashboard.
The first tab on the left titled ‘Titles Not Posted’ is what you need to click. Whether this is your first book or when you do this for a subsequent book, you’ll need to click the purple ‘Assert More Titles’ button.
This brings up a search box from where you can search for your existing ebook or paperback from the Kindle store. You can search by your pen name or by the ASIN. Once you find your book, click on the purple ‘This is my book’ button.
Once you do this, a popup will appear on the screen and you can choose to hire a narrator to produce your book or you can upload the audio files by yourself if you have them ready.
ACX has pretty stringent criteria for audio files and you should review them thoroughly before uploading them. The review process takes a while and you don’t want any technical glitches delaying the release of your book.
Agreements and Terms
If you choose to hire a narrator, you will be directed to a page that displays the book posting agreement. This is a standard agreement where you certify that you are the copyright holder of this book and that the book doesn’t contain any objectionable material as per Amazon’s policies.
Once you click ‘I agree’ on this page, you’ll be taken to the metadata section of your audiobook. This is where you will enter the book’s description as well as the information about the author and copyright holder.
It’s also where you can specify what kind of a narrator you want. You can choose the language (which must match the language the book is written in) as well as the sex and type of voice the narrator must possess.
You can enter a separate book description or the same one as you did when setting up your ebook and paperback.
At the bottom of the page, you’ll see a section where you can upload your audition script that your narrators will read when auditioning for your book.
The next screen is where you’ll enter all chapter name information and the one after that will prompt you to enter the number of words in the book. You will also have to confirm the rights you own for the book (worldwide or specific territories) and you’ll then have to choose the method by which you’d like to pay your narrator.
Paying for Production
Choosing to pay your narrator for production is the more expensive option but if your book sells well, then this is the more profitable one for you to choose. Rates on ACX vary from $50 per finished hour (pfh) to more than $200 pfh.
Per finished hour refers to the final length of the book, not how long it takes to produce it. With this option, you keep either 40% or 25% of your sales depending on your distribution choice.
You’ll learn about distribution shortly. For now, let’s look at how royalty sharing works.
If you choose to split royalties with your producer, then both of you keep 20% each from the sales of the book. Note that if you choose this option, your costs are low but you’ll be sharing half the royalties with your producer.
Over time, this amount can be far greater than what you might pay for a finished hour. The other thing to note is that on royalty share deals, you have to distribute your book exclusively through ACX.
You can choose to have your book sold through either ACX exclusively or through other online platforms. If you choose the exclusive option, you will enter into a seven-year exclusivity agreement with ACX.
It’s hard to get ACX to suspend this agreement so you must assume that you’re going to be tied to them for this length of time when you opt for this. Under this agreement, you get paid 40% of the sales of your book.
The non-exclusive agreement allows you to sell on any outlet you wish but ACX will pay you just 25% of your sales as royalties. Also, as you’ve just learned, you cannot opt for a royalty split production without exclusivity.
Once you receive auditions, assuming you haven’t hired a narrator outside of ACX, you can review them and hire a narrator. This person will then record your book and will upload a sample followed by the finished chapters of your book.
Once you approve the recordings, you can upload the book cover (which can be the same as your KDP cover, resized to fit ACX’s guidelines) and place the book for sale.
ACX will then review your book for quality issues and this process typically takes 18 working days. Once this is done, your book is automatically placed for sale on Audible.
The review process sometimes does get extended, and if this happens, you can call ACX at their customer support line or email them to enquire about delays. A delay sometimes occurs due to ACX checking whether the account is eligible to be a part of the platform or not.
This happens due to suspicions of publishers outside the approved countries creating accounts. If this happens, ACX places the account under review and conducts an investigation.
There is no defined timeline for this and once your account is cleared, your books get approved and they’re placed on sale.
If there are quality issues found in your book, the ACX team will email you and let you know what the issue is. Your producer will receive a mail as well and they’ll be the ones who’ll fix it.
If you narrated the book yourself or produced it outside of ACX, you will need to get in touch with the person who produced it for you.
Unlike KDP where you can fix your ebook and paperback’s price, ACX does not allow you to do this. Instead, they publish the following method by which they price their books:
- Under one hour in length - $7
- One to three hours - $7 to $10
- Three to five hours - $10 to $20
- Five to ten - $15 to $25
- 10 to 20 - $20 to $30
- Over 20 - $25 to $35
To assist you with promoting your book, ACX provides authors with promotional codes that you can distribute to your audience.
You will not be compensated for these redemptions. However, they will enable your listeners to leave reviews on your book and this will help its rankings when customers search for it on Audible.
You can request codes for both Audible US and Audible UK as a part of this process. Authors receive over 150 promo codes every month.
Remember that the codes are only for promotional purposes and you won’t be paid for any sales made through them!
As you can see, the process is pretty straightforward and uncomplicated. ACX handles everything every step of the way and you don’t need to worry about file quality issues if you hire a narrator through the platform.
You can download the audio files and save them for later. Just remember to adhere to the distribution agreements!
ACX is a great choice for authors and creating an audiobook has never been easier. So, what are you waiting for? Get publishing!