Choosing the right audiobook distribution company will help you easily create your audiobook and efficiently get it to your fans This article is for authors who are interested in distributing their newly made audiobooks. I focus mainly on distribution companies that help authors create their audiobooks and place them in online stores like Audible, iTunes, Barns & Noble, etc.
Below are the general steps used by Audible/ACX, Findaway Voices, and Listen Up Audiobooks for distributing your audiobook:
- Log in or Open an Account – Includes entering your name, address, how you want to get paid, etc.
- Create an audition script – This is a sample from your manuscript.
- Listen to narrator auditions – Either select narrators to audition and wait for narrators to find you.
- Select a narrator – Select the narrator you feel is appropriate for your audiobook and negotiate a pay rate.
- Wait for the 15-minute check point – This is where the narrator will submit the first 15-minutes of the audiobook for your approval.
- Approve the audio files – Listen carefully to the narrator’s work and make sure there are no errors.
- Wait for the audiobook review – This review is done by the distributor and includes checking that each audiobook file has been edited and mastered properly.
- Distributor will automatically send audiobook to partner stores – Wait for confirmation that the audiobook is released.
Note that Author’s Republic does not have the capability to allow authors to hire narrators. Instead they partnew with other companies that provide narrators. Even though an you will follow the same general steps to distribute your audiobooks, you will have to use more than one company if you start with Author’s Republic.
The list below shows audiobook distribution companies that allow authors to create and distribute their audiobooks. The rest of the article expands on how these companies work.
The list below displays the audiobook companies that only distribute audiobooks. In other words, they have no way of helping authors create their audiobooks. Generally, the distributors listed above also serve as aggregators for the audiobook companies below.
|Apple iTunes||Barnes and Noble Nook||Audiobooks.com||AudiobooksNow|
|Hummingbird Digital Media||Instaread||Leamos||Libro.fm|
|Storytel||3Leaf Group||Axiell Media||Baker & Taylor|
Below, I provide more detail on how each of these larger distributers gives authors their share of royalties. Learning how each distributor works will affect your decision as to which you should choose.
Which Audiobook Distribution Company Should You Choose?
As of 2020, Audible/ACX has the lion’s share of the audiobook market. However, they also offer one of the lowest royalties to authors. The question is: Should you choose the platform with the most customers or the platform that pays the most?
Beginning Audiobook Authors
If you are a new author, choose Audible/ACX for your audiobooks. These Amazon companies have the most customers resulting in the highest possible profit for the author.
If you sell your audiobook directly on Audible/ACX and you sign an exclusive contract (you do not place your audiobook anywhere else), you will receive a 40% royalty. Audible takes 60% of the sale of each audiobook and the author gets the rest.
Note that when you distribute through Audible/ACX, your audiobook will be available on iTunes and Amazon. If you have an exclusive contract you’ll receive 40% of sales on these online stores, but if it you have a non-exclusive contract you’ll receive 25% of sales.
The table below shows how your royalties varies depending on how you change your distribution with Audible/ACX. The first row of the table is the option to distribute directly to Audible/ACX with either an exclusive or non-exclusive contract.
The following rows on the table show how much you receive if you distribute through other platforms like Findaway Voices, Author’s Republic, or Listen Up Audiobooks. Note that the calculations for these values are explained in the following sections of this article.
Distribution to Audible/ACX
Royalty Shared Between Platform and Author for $15 Audiobook Sale
|Distribution Platform||Platform’s Royalty||Author’s Royalty|
Listen Up Audiobooks|
As a beginning author, the best option for you is to distribute with an exclusive contract on Audible/ACX. While your audiobook is selling, you can market it and increase your following. Once you’ve published a few audiobooks, then it might be time to move to other platforms.
If you are interested in marketing your audiobook, my article How Do I Sell Audiobooks, discusses several components necessary to market your audiobook and increase your following.
Experienced Audiobook Authors
An experienced author with several audiobooks (more than 10), can diversify from Audible/ACX. Why? Audible/ACX only reaches the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Japan, India, and many countries in Europe. However, many of the other platforms reach countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and South America.
The downside of expanding away from Audible/ACX is that your royalty will decrease from 40% to 25%. See that table above. In addition, if you use an aggregate audiobook distributer, you will have to share that 25% royalty with the new distributor.
The advantage of expanding from Audible/ACX is the additional stability of having your audiobook available through so many distributors.
The table below shows how your royalties vary depending on how you change your distribution with Apple iTunes. Unlike Audible/ACX, it is not possible to sell your audiobook directly to Apple iTunes.
Note that unlike Audible/ACX, each platform negotiates a different royalty split with Apple iTunes. The royalty split between Findaway Voices and Apple iTunes is 45% and 55%, respectively.
The royalty splits with Author’s Republic and Listen Up Audiobooks were not listed on their websites, at the time of this writing. Typically, they are around 50%. For the examples used in this article, I assumed that the royalty splits with all non-Audible/ACX platforms was the same as Findaway Voices.
The first row shows the author’s royalties if the author distributes through Findaway Voices to Apple iTunes. Note that the author receives $5.40. This is substantially more than distributing through Findaway Voices to Audible/ACX ($3).
The following rows show the author’s royalties if the author distributes through Author’s Republic and Listen Up Audiobook to Apple iTunes. In both cases, the author’s royalty is higher than if they distribute to Audible/ACX.
Distribution to Apple iTunes
Royalty Shared Between Platform and Author for $15 Audiobook Sale
|Distribution Platform||Platform’s Royalty||Author’s Royalty|
Listen Up Audiobooks|
For an experienced author, the best option for you is to leave your original audiobooks in their exclusive contract with Audible/ACX. However, any new audiobooks produced after the initial 10 or so should be distributed with a non-exclusive contract on Audible/ACX and on other platforms.
As an author, you will receive a lower royalty than you would on Audible/ACX’s exclusive contract. However, your audiobooks will be available in several new countries that Audible/ACX cannot reach. This increases your stability, because you are not tied to one platform. Also, in the long run, this will increase your sales because your audiobooks will move to new, untapped markets.
Audible/ACX is owned by Amazon and provides a full service to authors. Audible sells audiobooks and handles the distribution of royalties to authors and narrators. ACX is a platform that allows authors to work with narrators and get their audiobooks launched onto the Audible store-front.
Audible/ACX allows authors to choose one of three ways to create an audiobook and receive royalties from its sales. These options are Pay-for-Production, Royalty Share, and Royalty Share Plus.
This option allows authors to pay for the entire production of the audiobook up front. The cost depends on the length of the audiobook. The author and narrator must negotiate a rate that they are both happy with before work can begin.
Once the audiobook is available for sale, Audible/ACX will receive 60% of each sale, and the author will receive 40%. This assumes that the audiobook is not available anywhere else. For a $15 audiobook, Audible will receive $9 (60%), and the author will get $6 (40%).
If the author wishes to sell their audiobooks to multiple distributers, then Audible/ACX will receive 75%, and the author will receive 25%. For a $15 audiobook, Audible/ACX will receive $11.25 (75%), and the author will get $3.75 (25%).
If the author doesn’t have money to pay a narrator, another option is to share in the royalties from the sale of the audiobook. Note that this program is only available if the author placed the audiobook in an exclusive contract with Audible/ACX. In addition, this agreement lasts for 7 years.
The way it works is Audible/ACX takes 60% of the sale price of the audiobook, the author gets 20% and the narrator gets 20%. For a $15 audiobook, Audible/ACX takes $9 (60%), the author gets $3 (20%), and the narrator gets $3 (20%).
Generally, this is not the best option for the narrator who spends their time and uses their equipment to create the audiobook that may never have a lot of sales. However, the narrator may be building a portfolio and therefore okay with no pay.
Also, this is not the best option for the author because only new, inexperienced narrators are likely to take this deal, thus affecting the quality of the audiobook. On the other hand, if the audiobook takes off, the author may pay the narrator more than the Pay-for-Production value.
Royalty Share Plus
As an author, if you are able to pay the narrator enough to cover production costs, this might be the best compromise between the two previous options. This agreement only works if the author placed the audiobook in an exclusive contract. The agreement remains in place for 7 years.
The way it works is the author and narrator negotiate a small fee for the production costs. Once the audiobook is ready for distribution, Audible/ACX gets 60% of the sales of the audiobook, while the author and narrator receive 20% each.
For a $15 audiobook Audible/ACX receives $9, the author gets $3 and the narrator gets $3.
Generally, this option is better than the Royalty Share program because now the author and narrator have a little risk (the negotiated production costs). However, it’s still better to pay the narrator up front. The narrator will receive all of their money and have no more ties to the audiobook. This allows the author to maximize their royalties.
Like Audible/ACX, Findaway Voices is a full-service company for authors. It allows authors to find a narrator, produce an audiobook, and distribute it to distribution partners.
Unlike Audible/ACX, Findaway Voices is an aggregate audiobook publisher. They send audiobooks to Audible as well as to a host of other audiobook sellers. In return, they receive a royalty from these sellers and split that royalty with authors who distribute through them.
For example, if Findaway Voices sells the author’s audiobook through Audible/ACX, the royalty from Audible will only be 25%. This royalty must be shared between Findaway Voices and the author.
Findaway Voices has two options for authors to distribute through them: Pay-for-Production and Voices Share.
This option works very similarly to the Audible/ACX Pay-for-Production. The narrator sets their rate, but unlike Audible/ACX, there is no negotiating. Instead, the author has the option to choose another narrator. Once the author has chosen a narrator, the audiobook is produced and sent to the Findaway Voices partners.
For a $15 audiobook that sells through Audible/ACX, Findaway Voices gets $0.75 (20% of 25%), the author gets $3 (80% of 25%), and Audible/ACX gets $11.25 (75%).
For a $15 audiobook that sells through Apple iTunes, Findaway Voices and the author share 45% of sales. Specifically, Findaway Voices gets $1.35 (20% of 45%), and the author gets $5.40 (80% of 45%). Apple iTunes receives $8.25 (55%).
Voices Share works similarly to Audible/ACX’s Royalty Share Plus program. The author agrees to pay 50% of the narrator’s rate. Findaway Voices gets 20% of the royalties from their partners. The narrator gets 20 %, and the author gets 60%.
For example, if a $15 audiobook sells through Audible/ACX, the royalty to Findaway Voices, the author, and the narrator is 25% of sales. Audible/ACX gets $11.25 (75% of sales). The royalties to Findaway Voices, the author, and narrator will be$3.75. Specifically, $0.75 (20% of 25%) goes to Findaway Voices, $2.25 (60% of 25%) goes to the author, and $0.75 (20% of 25%) goes to the narrator.
If the audiobook sells through Apple iTunes, the royalty to Findaway Voices, the author, and the narrator is 45% of sales. Apple iTunes gets $8.25 (55%). Findaway Voices gets $1.35 (20% of 45%), the author gets $4.05 (60% of 45%), and the narrator gets $1.35(20% of 45%).
Author’s Republic partners with other companies to help authors find narrators to create their audiobook. The production partners are: Deyan Audio, Pro Audio Voices, Voices for Books, Bee Audio, and e-Audio Production.
After your audiobook is created, it is distributed through Author’s Republic to several other audiobook retail stores including Audible/ACX. Author’s Republic distributes audiobooks for a 30% royalty share.
For example, if a $15 audiobook sells through Audible/ACX, Author’s Republic and the author share a 25% royalty. Specifically, Audible/ACX gets $11.25 (75%). The remaining $3.75 (25%) is shared between Author’s Republic and the author. Author’s Republic gets $1.13 (30% of 25%) and the author gets $2.62 (70% of 25%).
If the audiobook sells through Apple iTunes, Author’s Republic and the author share a 45% royalty. In other words, Author’s Republic gets $2.03 (30% of 45%), and the author gets $4.72 (70% of 45%). Apple iTunes gets $8.25 (55%).
Listen Up Audiobooks is a full-service shop for authors. They help authors turn their ebooks into audiobooks by providing a list of narrators to choose from. In addition, Listen Up Audiobooks also distributes audiobooks through their partners for a 20% share of the distributed royalties.
One example partner is Audible/ACX. Once the audiobook is sold through Audible/ACX, the royalty share to Listen Up Audiobooks and the author share a 25% royalty. Audible/ACX retains 75%.
For a $15 audiobook, Audible/ACX takes $11.25 (75%). Listen Up gets $0.75 (20% of 25%), and the author gets $3 (80% of 25%).
If the audiobook is sold through Apple iTunes, Listen Up Audiobooks and the author share a 45% royalty. In other words, Listen Up Audiobooks gets $1.35 (20% of 45%), the author gets $5.40 (80% of 45%), and Apple iTunes gets $8.25 (55%).
Authors have a multitude of options to distribute their audiobooks. Generally, it’s always best to distribute directly to Audible/ACX. If you are a new author, consider placing your first few audiobooks in an exclusive contract with Audible/ACX. As you write and record more audiobooks, use the other distribution channels so that your income is not solely dependent on one company.
Which audiobook distribution companies have you used? Let me know in the comments below.