Publishing a book on Audible using ACX

How to get your audiobook onto one of the most popular sites on the planet…correctly.
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It is possible to make a decent chunk of change creating an audiobook on Amazon, particularly when compared to publishing what could be the same novel on Amazon. The reason Audible can be more profitable is mainly because Audible:

  1. Allows you to make more money on an average sale
  2. Offers a relatively lucrative referral bonus if you can convert new Audible listeners to become subscribers

That said, remember how arduous and sometimes painstaking it was to write your novel? Yes, it was beautiful and rewarding and it meant-so-much-to-you. But was there also this part of you that thought it would never get done?

Making an audiobook through ACX can feel similar to that in some ways. Yes you’re reading a manuscript that is already written, but you are creating an entirely different product with a new set of challenges.

Assuming you want to record an audiobook for Audible that sounds professional and that listeners take seriously, know that you are going on a new journey separate from writing your manuscript.

I narrated and produced my own audiobook on Audible.

Here’s what you need to know about effectively getting your book onto Audible using ACX … in 5 Minutes.

What is ACX

What your audiobook will look like on Audible

I’m going to fire up a bulleted list to answer this and many of the below:

  • ACX is an online platform meant to create your audiobook for mass distribution
  • ACX stands for Audible Creation Exchange
    • It is dubbed an “exchange” as authors can choose to hire narrators on ACX to narrate their books
  • It is free to use

Before you record…

ACX works brilliantly if you know a few things before using it, and you don’t mind sharing 60% of your revenue with Amazon.

But before you begin, I recommend you do, or have done the following:

  • Get one of the following audio recording programs
    • Garage Band
    • Audacity
    • Protools
    • Audition
    • Logic
  • Have an understanding of audio levels and what they mean
    • Amazon requires your Audible audiobook be at a minimum -23db RMS (root mean square)
      • Most beginners record audio files by “ear” and adjust volume based on their preference, but you need to go by the input on your computer
    • -23db RMS is fairly loud, so be aware when you start recording that your file must be between -23db RMS to -18db RMS (-18db being louder than -23db RMS)
  • Find or build a professional recording space
  • Ask yourself if you want to dedicate weeks to months to record your own audiobook
  • Can you get 5-10 people to leave you reviews?
  • Make sure your Amazon Author Seller Account is the same as your ACX account

How you will record your complete Audiobook

ACX has you record each individual chapter as its own file and then combines these all together into a single audiobook. Not a big deal, but you should plan to record your audiobook chapter by chapter, opposed to arbitrary chunks.

Should you narrate your own audiobook?

ACX offers two ways for you to work with narrators.

  1. You negotiate a flat rate for them to record the audiobook in full
  2. You offer them a rev split, so they will receive 50% of the 40% cut you receive from every sale

It can be difficult to make money off your audiobook on ACX after splitting your revenue with Amazon and a co-producer. If you remotely feel confident in your ability to engage readers with your story or book, I highly suggest you take the time to record your own audiobook and to invest in the process.

Assuming you just want to get an audiobook made, many narrators will likely want some type of advance or total payment of $500-$1,000 based on the current listings, which could be hard to get back. You’d need to sell about 84 audiobooks to make $500 with revenue shares being taken into account.

ACX vs. Createspace vs. KDP Publishing

These three sites often become intertwined, but here’s what to know in short:

  • ACX is the creative exchange exclusively for publishing audiobook files
  • KDP Publishing is where you publish a print and Kindle book to Amazon and its distribution network
    • KDP Publishing has nothing to do with getting your book on Audible. If you want to link your Amazon book page to your Audible book, I discuss that below.
  • For those of you who remember Createspace, the site no longer exists and is a non-factor

The best voiceover microphone for audiobooks

Before deciding which microphone is the best for recording your audiobook, you need to consider your recording environment.

  • Is there an ambient noise louder than -60db that your computer can detect through the microphone? If so, ACX will reject these files during the review process
    • Plug in your mic, hit record, and let it pick up the ambient noise of the room
    • A buzz of a refrigerator, air conditioner, or just outside noise can be as loud as -60db
  • Is your room relatively empty or bare and causing an echo?
    • Furniture, rugs, and curtains can be enough to soundproof a room, assuming the above “noise makers” are limited
    • Don’t forget your ceilings—sound moves in all directions, often up, and covering your ceilings in addition to your floors can do wonders

Buying an expensive microphone might actually do you more harm than good if you do not have the proper soundproofing for recording your audiobook. This is why a dynamic microphone can be preferred to a condenser microphone.

  1. Condenser microphones are more sensitive and unless you have a sterile, studio environment, will likely pick up TOO much sound
  2. Dynamic microphones are usually more appropriate for someone recording out of a closet or a small studio. Of course, dynamic microphones like the RE20 can also perform very well in a studio.

What is the difference between a $150 and $500 mic?

A higher priced microphone that connects to an audio interface versus say a USB port will pick up more detail in your voice, in addition to likely being able to filter out more noise. Without getting into the nitty gritty, a more expensive microphone will in general be cleaner and give your voice a more broadcast quality.

About dynamic microphones and phantom power

Your microphone is usually powered by your computer or audio input device, which means it is powered by “phantom power” as opposed to batteries. Dynamic microphones are known to not give off a lout of output, meaning they have a fairly weak signal that needs to be amplified. In short, you will need a device to boost the signal of you dynamic microphone. 

Getting your Audiobook to appear on your Amazon book page

Linking your Audible audiobook to your Amazon book page is done through Author Central.

  1. Log in to Amazon Author Central and click add more books
  2. Type in your book name
  3. Click add to my books

Final Minute

It’s pretty easy to record an audibook in our digital age. And it is even easier to upload an audiobook onto one of the most popular audiobook stores in the world (which subsequently gets it onto iBooks, as well).

ACX does a good job of trying to get you to format your book correctly. But even with modest hand-holding, it could take as much learning and dedication to produce your audiobook as writing your novel, itself.

If you want to record your own audiobook by yourself, be prepared to put the time in and DEFINITELY understand the technical requirements for Audible sound levels. The worst thing you can do is spend weeks recording a product that ultimately gets rejected.

This article was written by:

Paul is the Founder & Editor of in5minutes.com. He is a Certified Salesforce Marketer, FAA Drone Pilot, HSK Chinese Speaker, Ham Radio Operator, NASM Personal Trainer, and Certified Canon operator amongst other things. He hosted and produced the first original programs for Hulu and Twitch and helped launch a pilot program for teaching soft skills to incarcerated students. He currently runs content marketing for an aerospace company in Los Angeles. If you'd like to request a consultation, contact Paul here.

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