Authors, publishers, agents, circle up. Today, we’re going to talk money. ACX offers two different options when it comes to paying for your audiobook. You can also choose between two distribution options, which affect how much you stand to make from your audio sales. So let’s take a start-to-finish look at the different options you have on ACX when it comes to dollars and cents.
Planning Your Budget
Budgeting is one of the first things you should think about when preparing to get your book produced in audio. ACX offers two ways to compensate your producer: pay a “per finished hour” rate (PFH) when you approve the final audio, or enter into a royalty share agreement, where you pay the producer nothing up front, but agree to split your portion of the royalties 50-50 on the back end. The biggest consideration here is whether you have the funds to pay for your production up front, or whether you’d prefer to share royalties from sales. Both have their benefits – one allows you to keep your full portion of your royalties, the other gives you a marketing partner who is equally invested in the project, but it’s important to know which is right for you.
P4P: Is it 4 You?
Paying a per-finished-hour rate, what we call “pay for production” (or P4P) on ACX, is the traditional model of paying for an audiobook production. A good estimate of industry standard rates for retail ready audiobook production breaks down as follows: roughly $200 PFH for narration and another $200 PFH for the post production work (editing, QC, mixing and mastering). Rates can vary from producer to producer and from project to project of course. It’s also important to understand what you’re paying for, and the skill and time that goes into it. On average, it can take about four hours of work to produce one hour of finished audio. Your narrator is usually spending two hours reading in the booth and another two to three hours editing, mixing and mastering for each finished hour of audio. So while a rate of $300-$400 PFH may seem high, it makes sense when you understand the works that’s gone into it.
When budgeting for a P4P deal, the other factor to consider is the length of your title. We estimate that about 9,300 words equals one hour of finished audio (you can learn how to get an accurate word count for your title here). So, with that in mind, you can contact producers on ACX and negotiate a fair rate for producing your title.
The Revolutionary Royalty Share
Of course, not everyone wants to pay their producer up front. For those that want to go a different route, ACX offers the royalty share payment model. Under these terms, you, the rights holder, forgo up front payment. Your producer will do the same work described above, and deliver the same retail-ready audio product. The time spent, and the value of the producer’s work is the same as if they were being paid up front. That’s why it’s extra important to have a solid plan for how you’ll market your title, and how your producer can fit into that plan. Choosing to split the royalties can get you a “partner in crime,” and double the marketing force behind your audio version.
It’s important to note that the royalty share option is only available when you grant ACX exclusive distribution of your title. Which brings us to:
Distribution – Exclusive or Non-Exclusive
The other big consideration for an ACX rights holder is whether to choose exclusive or non-exclusive distribution. This is a very in-depth topic, and much more detailed information on distribution and royalty rates can be found on our site. In brief, ACX will distribute your title to Audible, Amazon and iTunes. If you choose exclusive distribution, we will make your book available through these three channels and pay you an escalator royalty rate that starts at 50%, and increases in your favor the more you sell. With non-exclusive distribution, your book will still be available for purchase though the sites above, but you retain the right to sell or distribute it in any other way you wish. As we mentioned before, the royalty share method of paying your producer is only available with exclusive distribution.
Which combination of payment and distribution is right for you? Only you can know for sure, and it can vary from project to project. But with the information above, you should be well situated to make an informed, intelligent choice!
Which payment and distribution methods have you worked for you on ACX? Tell us in the comments!