In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, indie author Virginia Ripple looks at indie author options for audiobook production and distribution.
Back in June of last year I finished recording the audio version of Simply Prayer and went looking for a place to sell it. At the time Kunaki seemed the best choice. Since then my audio book journey has drawn a bit of attention between two companies: ACX.com and Open Book Audio.
Being a social creature I did some asking around and found that most of the indie authors I knew were going with ACX, so that’s where I decided to go, despite Andrew Parker of Open Book Audio’s various helpful comments.
Publetariat Editor’s Note: ACX now allows for distribution through Audible, with an author royalty rate of up to 90%. See this page on the ACX site for more information.
To make a long story short, I’ve been disappointed in ACX. Some would say I’m just being impatient, but so far the results with this company has been null in trying to get Apprentice Cat narrated. Thankfully I have an author friend who put me in touch with someone outside that company who may be able to narrate the book for me. (We’re still working on details at the moment.)
I’ve been looking into how to upload narration from an outside source onto the ACX site, but I keep getting lost in the directions available. Admittedly, I have yet to contact the company about this. I had plans to contact them this week, but then an interesting comment appeared from Andrew Parker on a post on my old blog about how Open Book Audio may be a better choice.
Here it is in full:
Hi Jaime (and all who are following the conversation),
Thanks for the kind words on the podcast. To your questions, the reality is with Audible that if you decide to go the ACX route (which definitely has it’s benefits) and go non-exclusive, you can sell your audiobook elsewhere, like through Open Book Audio. The problem with that, as I see it, is that you are locked into the 7 year agreement and, here’s where it gets interesting, you lose out on the marketing push we offer. Not to mention being able to track your sales through our website. As for Audible, they distribute their library, as I think most everyone knows now, to iTunes on an exclusive. So, if you want into iTunes, you have to get into Audible first. If you don’t go the ACX route, you have to have 5 books to get in. As for iTunes/Apple, they accept no audiobook unless it comes through Audible. So, even if you were to pay the development fee of $99, it still gets your book listed as a Spoken Word album or just an app. Either way, it makes it hard for folks to find you.
Back to the marketing push. At OBA, we have a very specific formula about what books we’ll take and what books we market. The truth is that, as long as the audio quality is good and the subject matter isn’t offensive, we’ll take the book and publish it to all of our retailers. What we then do is see how the book performs over the next few months. If it performs well enough, we put a big marketing push behind the book (reviews, websites, social media, press releases, interviews, podcasts, library journals, etc.) to goose the sales of the book and drive more money. Best of all, it’s free. How can we do that? Well, it’s simple really. If the book has proven that it can sell, it’s kind of a “why wouldn’t we?” mentality. Better yet, we have a specific formula that allows us to determine the precise amount of copies sold over a given period to guarantee a successful book. It’s remarkable how accurate we can be in determining what will be a hit and what won’t, rather than doing like most publishers do and go from their gut.
All that said, any publisher, like ourselves, won’t take your book if you decide to go direct through Audible and then come to us for the rest. Financially, we can’t make it work without the Audible slice of the pie and that’s the truth. Now, our fees are the lowest in the industry (again, math allows us to do that!) but Audible is still an essential piece of the puzzle.
So, what I would tell you is that if you’re content with your book just being available and not looking to make a great deal of money on it, ACX might be the way to go. But, if you’re looking to make more money, regardless of whether or not you hit the threshold for the marketing push, OBA is a much better option. After all, with a wider net, you’ll always get more fish.
Hope that helps. If you want to talk further (if anyone wants to talk further) just email me at andrew at openbookaudio dot com.
Has anyone else been through working with audio book companies? What did you like? What would have liked to see improved?
I’ve just learned that once you sign up with ACX you cannot delete your account with them without deleting your Amazon account as well. That makes me very unhappy because now it seems they’re trying to force me to use their services. While it does simplify things, just as using Createspace does, it also limits your options once you claim your book, even with non-exclusivity.
I urge everyone to make weigh all your options before signing up with any audio book producing company.