For those of you who have created audio books with Amazon’s audio division ACX (or are thinking of doing so), you may have heard that ACX made a rather unwelcome announcement today: royalty rates–which had been a generous 50% of sales with a potential to escalate up to 90% based on unit sales–will be reduced to a flat, non-escalating, 40% as of March 12, 2014.
When you consider that many self-published authors choose to split royalties 50/50 rather than pay their narrators per hour, this means a rather uninspiring 20%…and, for many of us, the bulk of sales are from ACX’s aggressively discounted cross-platform sales (as low as $1.99), rather than the juicy full price ($19.95). Twenty-percent of $1.99? Er…okay.
Despite the bummer, there are two silver linings in the announcement:
- Audio books created before March 12 will still retain the old royalty structure (presumably until the contract can be renegotiated in seven years). This is a bit of a no-brainer, since I believe they are legally obligated to abide by the terms of the contract.
- (more interesting) Audio books started before March 12 will also retain the old royalty schema. The message here? If you were thinking of putting your book into audio, get busy! It’s more than possible to submit your book to ACX, accept auditions, pick a narrator, and agree to a contract (i.e., starting the audio book) before 3/12/14.
Just some warnings, since there’s a deadline to get your project started: if you haven’t already claimed your title, make sure you’re claiming your Kindle version and not the paperback if you have it.
ACX’s search engine is really lousy and it’s easy to pick the paperback, which then has ramifications for rank, etc. And to change to the digital, you have to make a written request to ACX support and it takes a week to reverse. The foolproof way to find your books is by its ASIN, not your name or the book’s title.
You can read other tips about the process (and mistakes made) on my blog post from my first foray into audio books, Do You Hear What I Hear?
ACX remains an innovative way for busy authors to convert their work into the audio format and it’s how I’ve chosen to continue creating my audio books for the Marty Singer series (in fact, Blueblood just came out in audio this week!).
We’ll have to wait and see how professional narrators feel about this reduction, since the royalty escalation was especially attractive for narrators hoping to “invest” in a potentially lucrative author. But for now, ACX has soured the deal…a little.