Karen Commins’s Audiobook Distributor Comparison Chart
1. Whenever possible, I would publish to ACX as a DIY project and choose exclusive distribution for at least 90 days to get the promo codes and have my audiobook listed quickly on Audible. ACX promises to post your audiobook on Audible within 10 business days. Other distributors don’t specify a timeframe and, in my experience, often required more days to publish on Audible.
- This step should not be a problem for contemporary RHs as long as they contract with the narrator outside of ACX.
- However, it may be more difficult to do when a narrator is self-publishing a public domain book as you first either need to create an Amazon edition or get permission from a RH to use an existing edition.
- I’ve had some PD books where I couldn’t get permission for an existing edition and didn’t want to create one, so I used one of the other distributors.
2. When I want to go wide — which may be later than 90 days, depending on how the audiobook is selling — I’d contact Audible to change the distribution to non-exclusive.
- RHs who have created a RS/RS+ contract with an ACX narrator do not have this option because RS audiobooks must have exclusive distribution. They would need narrator consent to terminate distribution. In addition, they will lose all Audible ratings and reviews when they make this change because Audible will pull the audiobook from its virtual shelves. RHs would be better served to contract with a narrator outside of ACX to avoid 3 costly mistakes.
3. Once that step has completed, I’d upload the book to Findaway and choose all sites for distribution except Audible and Amazon. Findaway receives a much higher royalty from Apple (45%) than Audible (25% for non-exclusive), so I’m happy to let Findaway distribute to Apple even though ACX also distributed to Apple. I’d still be earning 25% from Audible/Amazon and 80% of royalties paid to Findaway for the other sites.
Findaway earns a hefty 50% from Google Play and Spotify! My single copy sales from Google Play and Apple have netted $7-8 in royalties, so you may want to create affiliate links and direct your Buy links to those listings to earn even more.
You must carefully consider whether to go wide. Would your royalties from other sites offset the 15% difference on Audible in going from exclusive to non-exclusive distribution? Audible is still the largest distributor, but those with hotly-selling books — especially in the big 3 genres of Mystery, Romance, and Sci-FI — may make more money with non-exclusive distribution on Audible.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Audible pays its highest royalty rate of 40% of proceeds to those books uploaded through ACX with an exclusive contract. Its second highest royalty rate is 25% paid on books uploaded through ACX with non-exclusive distribution.
Be aware that a distributor who promises 70-80% of the royalties they receive is not getting more than 25% of the total royalties that Audible pays on non-exclusive distribution through its own platform ACX. Sites like Findaway and Author’s Republic are middlemen that get 25% and then take their cut from that. Findaway keeps 20% of that 25%, effectively giving the RH a 20% royalty from Audible. Author’s Republic takes 30%, effectively leaving the RH with 17.5%. Therefore, if you want the largest royalty that Audible pays anyone, you must upload directly to ACX rather than using a different distributor to upload for you.
More resources are listed below my comprehensive chart which compares 6 popular distributors across 22 points of consideration. The sites are linked in the heading.
Other resources on this topic:
- Narrator and Spoken Realms owner Steven Cohen created this Q&A document that goes through a number of considerations of using ACX, Findaway Voices, or Spoken Realms.
- Narrator Amy Soakes compares royalties from several sites on this Narratorlist.com page.
- ALLI’s The Ultimate Guide to Self-Publishing Audiobooks includes some excellent info about popular genres, distributors, and royalty rates. Be aware that the vendor Soundwise contributed to the article and may have introduced bias in the discussion about distributors. Also, they didn’t add the comments from the linked deep dive of Audible titles concerning the high degree of reviews for romance books.
- Scribe Media created this guide that compares 6 points across ACX, Author’s Republic, Findaway Voices, Kobo Writing Life, Lantern Audiobooks, PublishDrive, and Soundwise.
- I recommend that rights holders interested in wide distribution join the Marketing Audiobooks Wide Facebook group to stay current on sites you may want to target and strategies to implement.
- Beyond that group, you’ll find a wide range of marketing tactics and ideas in my Audiobook Marketing Cheat Sheet. Even on multiple platforms, an audiobook won’t necessarily sell itself. Marketing and promotion are the keys to long-range sales.