Audio Books for Idiots Part 2: Can I Afford to Make an Audio Book?

acxLogo2How does an indie author figure out whether he or she can afford to turn their books into audio books?

What is Amazon’s ACX platform, and how does it work?

How does an indie author decide whether to produce their audio book using a royalty share agreement or by paying outright for production?

The Wolf and the Highlander - AudioIf you’ve asked any of these questions lately or you’re a writer considering turning a book into an audio book, you’ll want to jump in on this series. In part 1 I talk about several things I wish I’d known before starting the audio book process and I lay out the pros and cons of royalty share.

In this post, I’ll report my royalties from my two audio books, Wishing for a Highlander and The Wolf and the Highlander. I don’t share financial information lightly. I’m doing it here to help other authors understand what they can expect to make on their audio books depending on which method they use to produce it.

Jessi’s Prediction

In part 1 of my audio book series, I talked about the two different ways you can use ACX to create audio books of your work: Royalty Share and Paid Production.

For Wishing for a Highlander, I used the royalty share option. Royalty share is free to the author and results in 20% royalties. 

Based on what I was receiving in royalties for Wishing, I decided it would be safe for me to use paid production for The Wolf and the Highlander. Paid production means the author pays the narrator/producer outright and receives 40% royalties.  

My investment in the production of Wolf ran me over $2000.

(Note: The amount you will pay to produce your book might differ wildly from what I paid. Some narrators charge more than others per finished hour. Because the industry is always changing and narrators are becoming choosier about what they spend their time producing, the cost to an author could go up substantially in the months and years to come. Don’t be surprised to find some narrators charging upwards of $400 per finished hour, which would work out to over $4000.00 for a 100,000 word novel.)

As of my previous post, I could only guess at how long it would take me to reap the rewards of that investment. Here is how I made my educated guess:

Thanks to the royalty report for Wishing I shared in part 1, I learned that on average, I get $2.65 per audio book sale. If I do a little math, I can assume from that royalty that the average sale price of one of my audio books was $13.25. Keeping in mind the different ways of purchasing audio books, that average price is NOT hard and fast. But it’s a starting point.

If I assume Wolf would sell for the same price on average as Wishing, and if I know my royalty will be twice as much (40% vs 20%), then I predicted my royalty per unit of Wolf would be $5.30. At that rate, I would need to sell around 410 units of Wolf to pay for its production.

Well, now that I have a few royalty statements under my belt for Wolf, I’m in a good position to check my assumptions. I’m pleased to report I was on the right track.

Here’s a table showing what I made at the 40% royalty rate for Wolf versus the 20% royalty rate for Wishing for the month of December:

ACX Royalty Wishing Wolf_table

  • ALC: audiobook units bought by customers not in an AudibleListener membership
  • AL: audiobook units bought by AudibleListener members using their membership credits
  • ALOP: audiobook units bought by AudibleListener members but not using their membership credits

For those who like pretty pictures, here’s a couple charts. The top chart shows units sold. The bottom chart shows royalty earned.



Notice I sold fewer copies of Wolf but made quite a bit more than Wishing. In fact, for this reporting period (December), Wolf made 2.67 times as much as Wishing per unit sold.

I hope my sharing this info with you allows you to make make more informed decisions about your audio books.

To learn more about my books and audio books, visit my website. It’s new and improved and kind of spiffy if you ask me. There’s even a spot where you can like my FB page and sign up for my new release newsletter. Just sayin’.

As always, thanks for reading!

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About Jessi Gage

USA Today Bestselling Author Jessi Gage is addicted to happy-ever-after endings. She counts herself blessed because she gets to live her own HEA with her husband and children in the Seattle area. Jessi has the attention span of a gnat…unless there is a romance novel in her hands. In that case, you might need a bullhorn to get her to notice you. She writes what she loves to read: stories about love. Leave a comment to introduce yourself! There is no better motivation to finish her latest writing project than a note from a happy reader! Don't forget to sign up for Jessi’s newsletter so you’ll never miss a new release. Thanks for visiting!
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