A couple of years ago Melissa Bowersock wrote a helpful post on her experience with using ACX to create an audiobook. A couple of things have changed since then, so I thought it might be helpful to recap and walk through my most recent experiences with ACX.
One of the best changes is that ACX is now open to UK authors and producers. Until 2014, that wasn’t the case. In addition, while ACX has always sent U.S. authors and producers a batch of 25 free Audible coupon codes upon publication, they will now send a batch of 25 UK codes, as well, if requested. This is important, because the codes are country-specific. I recently submitted a couple of audiobooks to a review site in which reviewers are from both the U.S. and UK. It was nice to have codes that would work for all reviewers, regardless of location.
Another positive change has been the addition of a detailed dashboard. A couple of years ago I received a survey from ACX asking what I’d like to see improved, and that was my number one issue. At that time, I had no way of knowing how many audiobooks I’d sold. Sometimes I got a snail-mailed report; other times I didn’t. It was all very confusing — so confusing, in fact, I had no plans to turn my other books into audiobooks. I’m now able to see detailed information regarding sales right on my dashboard, including a monthly downloadable PDF or Excel spreadsheet.
My first experience with ACX came when I terminated contracts with my previous publisher and, long story short, ACX ended up transferring the audiobook contract to me. Be warned: the ACX contract is very long and complicated. I’d highly recommend reading all of it, as painful as that might be. The biggest surprise to me? That the contract lasts for seven years. Let me say that again. The ACX contract lasts for seven years.
This might not be a big deal to a self-published author, but trust me, it’s a very big deal to authors published through small publishers, particularly if the publisher doesn’t share this information. I nearly lost my first audiobook to my ex-publisher; had ACX, the producer, my previous publisher, and I not all agreed to have the contract transferred to me, it would still be with my old publisher.
Once you get past the contract, the process is simple. ACX is an Amazon company, so if your book is on Amazon you should be able to find it and, if you have the rights to it, “claim” it on ACX. Once you’ve done that, you’ll create a profile. ACX requires a 2400 x 2400 cover photo, and they won’t accept one that’s distorted by simply resizing. It needs to look professional.
Next, you’ll upload an excerpt, a chapter or two, for interested producers to use as an audition script.
Producers are either paid by the author upfront, anywhere from $50-$200 per finished hour, or they’re paid by a royalty split. For Blessed Are the Wholly Broken I knew I wanted a male producer, perhaps with a tinge of a southern accent, middle-aged, who was willing to share royalties. ACX allows you to search using all sorts of filters to find exactly the producer you want. If you find one that seems to fit the bill, click to go to their profile where you can sample their work.
I found two producers I thought would work and sent a polite query through the ACX messaging system. Important to know: whenever possible, email through the ACX messaging system. This makes the correspondence “official,” and if a dispute arises, is accessed by ACX to aid in resolving the conflict.
Both producers were interested and submitted recordings of the audition script. Once I’d made a decision, ACX took me to a page that allowed me to send an agreement to the producer. I chose to go exclusively with ACX and to pay the producer via royalty share, and I set a date by which I needed to receive the first fifteen completed minutes as well as a date for the completed audiobook. Then I uploaded a PDF of my manuscript.
I check ACX frequently to see if the producer has uploaded new chapters for my review. If I catch a mistake, I email the producer so he can correct it. Once he’s finished with the project, he’ll mark his work as completed, I’ll review and, if satisfied, submit to ACX for final approval. Barring any problems, ACX will email both of us within a couple of weeks to let us know the audiobook is for sale on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.
Once Blessed is finished, all six of my novels will be available as audiobooks. Overall, my experiences have been relatively painless, but I’d love to hear how the process has been for other authors.