Tips for Success on ACX

By Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraigIWSG Post (1)

If you’re not familiar with ACX, it’s basically the audiobook option for self-published authors. And it can be free if you opt for the royalty-share option.  More on that in this post I wrote here a couple of years ago.  I’ll have a post up in a few weeks on the IWSG blog (June 8) on the subject, too if you’d like to learn more about starting out with the platform.

I’ve found that good narrators are happy to take on a royalty-share arrangement with successful self-published authors.  A few tips I’ve discovered for being attractive to narrators/producers for royalty share:

1) It’s much better to list your book as available for audition when you’re selling well and have lots of great reviews.   For most of us, this isn’t the first week or two after release, even though we might be eager to have the book available on audio format.  Try a month or more in…when our readers have discovered, bought, and reviewed the book.

2) Pitch your project in the “additional notes” section when we list the book for audition. This is where you want to mention the sales for your other books and the size of your social media platform and mailing list.

3) It sure helps if ACX chooses our book for its stipend program. ACX’s policy is now that our books are automatically reviewed for this stipend program, which gives narrators money up-front to narrate and produce (since they’re assuming a risk by taking on our project without knowing how it will sell). I’ve found an email to ACX can also help (again, pitching the project as you did to the narrators on the audition page).

Audiobook promotion tips:

Once our audiobooks are up for sale, ACX (who loves introducing avid readers to audio), will email us free download codes to giveaway as we see fit.

1) We can use them for newsletter signup freebies. Or we can use them to increase our followers on social media.  By using a free giveaway program like Rafflecopter (and I do use the free version), we give the widget certain parameters: when the giveaway will start and stop, what readers will have to do to enter the contest (follow us on Facebook, tweet a link, comment on a post), and what we’re giving away. Then the widget gives us the email addresses and the names of the people who entered so that we can randomly select winners. The free code can be embedded on social media or our blog or website.

I decided that giving away 25 audiobooks of my most recent release would serve as an unexpected surprise to my newsletter list…so I sent it only to them.

2) Some writers have had success asking the first 25 responding readers who offer to write a fair review a free download code. Other have mentioned their frustration that the ACX codes sent to us can basically be used on any Audible audiobook, which means we’re putting readers on the honor system.  But on the KBoards forum, an author named Mark E. Cooper found a workaround that involved gifting a free copy of our title to the winning reader.  Simon Whistler from the Rocking Self-Publishing site/podcast, made an easy-to-follow video outlining Mark’s concept.

3) We need to remember to mention our audiobook in our promo (and I’m reminding myself here, too).  Link to it from our site.  Tell our newsletter readers about it.  When we’re on blog tours or writing promotional guest posts, link to the audio format as well as the ebook.  We can also cross-promote our audiobook by linking to it in the backs of our digital books.

4) Author Karen Commins has some good ideas about promoting on Goodreads on her post for the ACX blog (scroll about a quarter of the way down the page).  They include listing the audio format on the site and having the site librarians link to it on your book’s main page.

Have you considered putting your book up on ACX?  Are you an audiobook listener?  If you use the platform, what tips do you have?

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23 thoughts on “Tips for Success on ACX

  1. Sigh. It would be nice if I could get a stipend for myself when narrating my own books….

    When I finally get around to creating some audiobooks, I’m going to go for the non-exclusive contract at ACX, so I can experiment with other vendors. ACX is the only way you can get your book linked via Whispersync, but there are a lot of other small venues out there for audio fans.

    1. Camille– :) I’ve thought much the same thing about the stipends…

      Yes, there’s always that. I know some aren’t happy with the royalty set-up at ACX, but there aren’t a lot of alternatives out there in terms of big venues. Contracts are for 7 years, so maybe by then?

  2. Hi Elizabeth … it’s so interesting to know what’s out there and how they work – so thanks for keeping us updated on these …

    I’d like to read my own work at some stage … and I think serialisations, or small series seem to be a way forward …

    Cheers Hilary

  3. I’m scared of the whole audio book thing, because it seems so expensive more than anything. But you’ve opened my eyes a little here. Thanks Elizabeth. X

    1. Shah–Actually, the way I’m doing it, it’s free! Hard to imagine. I did pay $25 to get my cover formatted into a square for the site, but that’s only because I’m hopeless with design. Hope you’ll explore it. :)

  4. Great article, Elizabeth. One question I have is how big is the audio market in your opinion?

    Would you say it’s 1/4 the size of your Amazon KDP sales? Or a little more or less? (I think if I do it, I’m going to pay to do it instead of doing royalty sharing, but I’m just trying to figure out how much expanded distribution I’ll actually get from it.)


    1. Hi Stan! No, definitely not as much as 1/4 the size. I’d say 1/8, instead.

      For expanded distribution (and I hope I’m reading you correctly), we only have to agree to be exclusive to ACX. Royalty share agreements, such as I’m contracted for, are required to be exclusive to ACX. That puts our books in fairly wide distribution…quoting from ACX below:

      “What does “exclusive” actually mean? Who will be selling my book?
      Exclusive to ACX means your finished audiobook will be sold only through Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Any audiobook made using ACX will be distributed through these online retailers. Note that Audible has an exclusive relationship with iTunes (i.e. to get your product into iTunes’ audiobook store, you have to go through Audible).

      How will my audiobook be sold if I choose the non-exclusive option?
      If you choose non-exclusive distribution, your audiobook will be available on Audible’s channels, which are currently Audible, Amazon and iTunes., and you will be able to also sell your completed audiobook in other locations, such as in cd or other physical format. For more information, please review the What’s the Deal? page.”

      1. Thanks for the info, Elizabeth!!! That helped answer quite a few questions for me.

        Love your blog and your articles, and I’m sorry that I think this is first time I’ve commented. : /

        But I’ve learned several things from your articles and your passion is obvious. I’ll meet you at the top!

  5. Greetings, Elizabeth! Thanks so much for linking to Part Two of my articles about audiobook marketing on the ACX blog! Here’s the link to part one of that series.

    I’m actually a narrator, not an author.

    I cringe when authors say that the royalty share option on ACX is FREE.

    Royalty share does NOT mean free. It is a deferred payment option for the costs of production.

    On average, it takes 6 hours in real time for the narrator and her team to create 1 finished hour of audio. A 10-hour audiobook could require 60 or more hours to produce.

    The author earns royalties for the print and ebook versions, but the narrator only earns royalties on sales of the audiobook.

    Narrators therefore are reluctant to accept royalty share contracts because we have ALL of the risk for low or no sales of the audiobook. We need to have some assurance that we will recoup our substantial investment in the production of the audiobook.

    Your readers might be interested in a video that I created to help authors get started with audiobooks. In 41 minutes, I:

    — explore the audiobook landscape (beginning at 2:43)
    — explain reasons every author should produce audiobooks of their books (beginning at 7:23)
    — demonstrate Amazon Whispersync capability between an audiobook and Kindle ebook (beginning at 10:19)
    — offer specific tips about ways to write with audio in mind (beginning at 12:09)
    — advise the viewer about the audiobook production process and give concrete information about using to create an audiobook, including payment for production costs and distribution options (beginning at 22:04)

    The video may be viewed at this link.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences and promoting audiobooks! Best wishes for your continued health, prosperity, and SUCCESS!

    Karen Commins
    My audiobooks on Audible

    1. Hi Karen–Thanks for the link to the video and for linking to part one of the series. You’re right–audio is a tremendous investment of time for a narrator…I’d never be able to do it.

      Hope you have a great week!

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