SOP for Authors Using Audible ACX by Bob Mayer

Audible ACX is an extremely user-friendly system allowing authors to produce their titles in audiobook format and make them available across a variety of platforms.

The information listed below contains my experiences and lessons learned using ACX over the past six months.  I have invested over $35,000 in audiobooks and while my experience has been great overall, there are a few things I would have done differently from the start.

  1. When preparing a book for auditions take your time when drafting the product description.  You automatically get Amazon’s current product description. You can go in and change it as you’re preparing the book for audition, so I recommend you do so before sending the book into production.  I’ve found the product descriptions are usually truncated.  Also, any reviews or blurbs you might have are missing.  Even when I include them in the product description, they still aren’t there when the book is ‘published’. The only way to include them is to contact Audible.  Make sure all the information is correct as it’s difficult to go back and fix it once the book goes into production.
  2. I recommend finding a professional narrator from the talent pool Audible provides.  For an audition you want to give a couple of pages, including a section that has dialogue to see how that is handled by the narrator.
  3. While the auditions are a good method, I’d recommend finding other titles that narrator has completed. Listen to the sample and check the customer reviews.  Those are the best determiners of quality of talent.  If you are not someone who has listened to audiobooks, you need to understand that people who do listen value the voice as much as they value the content.  So take your time and make sure you have top talent and be willing to pay for it (more on this below as you have two options on paying).  Have someone who is familiar with audiobooks listen to the auditions and the first fifteen minutes when completed.
  4. Be patient.  It takes time for the book to be produced and then it takes time for Audible to approve the book and place it in the production pipeline.  Start with one book and wait for it to be completed. Listen to the end result and have others listen to it and make sure you are satisfied before contracting the same narrator to do other books.  Duty, Honor, Country ended up being 18 hours as it was over 175,000 words.
  5. Once you are happy with a narrator, try to use the same one for all the books in a series.  Listeners expect to hear the same voice just as they expect the same writing from authors.
  6. Payment:  you have two options.  Pay for production up front OR do a 50-50 royalty split with the narrator.  For all my books I’ve paid up front so I can’t really comment on the royalty split.  I generally posted for a payment window between $100-$200 an hour and ended up paying between $150-$200 per hour.  Frankly, that’s about the lowest you can pay and expect quality work.  I think $175 is a solid pay rate, but have ranged up and down from there.  Remember, this is a long-term investment and quality is key.  This means a 100,000 word book is going to cost you around $1,500 to $2,000 up front.  When you consider what a good editor costs, this is a reasonable amount.
  7. As far as royalty split I haven’t done it so can’t comment.  I think you’d have to ‘sell’ the book to the talent, so they believe it will sell enough copies to make it worth their time.  However, if you can sell that, than you also believe it will ‘earn out’ and thus I’d pay up front.  Just my opinion.  Also, by paying up front you have more control over the book in that you are not locked into a contract with the narrator beyond payment.
  8. When the book is finished it is important to download all the files for the entire book and check them One of the files will be a retail audio sample.  You can use this for promotion on your web site and other locations.
  9. Make sure the narrator labels the files in a coherent manner.  Most have their own preferences but it should be very clear in what order they go.  Usually title and then chapter number.

10. Your cover must be square, so have your cover designer redo your eBook cover into a square. I recommend the cover be as close to the eBook and paperback cover as possible.

The way Audible ACX matches content creators with talent is a template I believe other companies, including publishers, will use in the future.  It’s extremely efficient and easy to use.


About Bob Mayer

Bob Mayer is a NY Times Bestselling author, graduate of West Point, former Green Beret (including commanding an A-Team) and the feeder of two Yellow Labs, most famously Cool Gus. He's had over 60 books published including the #1 series Area 51, Atlantis and The Green Berets. Born in the Bronx, having traveled the world (usually not tourist spots), he now lives peacefully with his wife, and said labs, at Write on the River, TN.

Posted on May 15, 2012, in Write It forward and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Ahhh! This is the ACX you mentioned yesterday. Haven’t gone there yet and not sure I will. Harlequin offers my Fatal Series in audio and the numbers have been less than overwhelming. I may look into it at some point though. Thanks for the pointers! :-)

  2. Now, Bob, why couldn’t you have written this a few months ago? You would have saved me some time in figuring all this out. *g* I concur with each of your points.

    I’ve got 2 — or 3 — audio books in production. Two are definitely in production. The narrator/producer of the 3rd is having to iron out some AFTRA glitch so that book isn’t yet underway.

    Since this is a new venture for me, I opted for the royalty split. I’ll let you know in 6 months how that worked out for me.

  3. Truly valuable insight. Muchos gracias.

  4. I’m an audiobook narrator/producer and have been doing all my work thru ACX. I find that their computer templates are excellent, and I have never experienced any problems with their services.
    Something that does bug me, is never hearing anything back from the rightsholder for whom I have auditioned. Even a “thanks but no thanks” would be welcome over dead silence.

  5. Almost done with my first audiobook. I’m curious, how long does the approval process take? My book runs a little over 3.5 hours.

  6. Reblogged this on Frankie Bow and commented:
    Bob Mayer has some advice for authors looking to produce an audiobook via ACX. Another thing that was very helpful was for me to send the producer/narrator a table of the characters with names, ages, dialects, and *photographs*. I AM NOT A LAWYER but because the document was only being seen by the producer/narrator, I felt safe including photos to which I may not have had the rights. The most difficult was the main character’s love interest; I ended up ‘shopping Troy Polomalu and two different male models together to get the desired result. Other characters were much easier to find. One popped up in a search on “Accounting Major.” The other was in the top image resultls of “mug shot neck tattoo.”

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