Here’s where we get to the good part. Once you’ve gone through the entire audition and production process, and if you have your marketing plan set up for success, you’ll start to see some purchases come in. Unlike Amazon’s KDP dashboard, you can’t track your sales in real time. When you get your monthly royalty statement, there are a few things you need to be aware of to fully understand what types of new readers have picked up your audiobook. Since your book can have as few as seven different prices without considering occasional sales, it’s worth taking a deeper look at what your royalty statement can entail.
Here are five things you need to know about your ACX earnings:
1. The Split
As we’ve previously mentioned, there are different potential royalty splits depending on how you created your audiobook. If you selected Pay for Production by paying up front for your book, then you’ll have a 60/40 royalty split. Audible will receive 60 percent of each sale, while you collect 40 percent. You must choose to be exclusive to Audible for seven years to get the 40 percent royalty, which drops to 25 percent if you go non-exclusive. While there used to be an escalator clause that allowed you to earn up to 90 percent per audiobook depending on your number of sales, Audible discontinued the payment structure in 2014.
If you’ve used the Royalty Share option to get your book produced, then you’ll split the 40 percent royalties in half. Audible will take 60 percent of exclusive books, your narrator will take 20 percent, and you’ll get the remaining 20 percent. Non-exclusive contracts are not available through Royalty Share. All contracts with ACX are for seven years. If you sign the exclusive contract, you won’t be able to sell your audiobook on any other platforms for at least seven years.
At the end of your seven-year period, you’ll need to notify Audible at least 60 days before the contract ends to opt out. Otherwise, Audible will automatically renew the contract for an additional year.
2. The Pricing
On KDP, determining your U.S. revenue is a much simpler prospect than it is on Audible. According to Simon Whistler’s Audiobooks for Indies, Audible’s standard non-member price is around $28.69 per book, 20 percent of which would be $5.74 per sale. If all audiobooks got you nearly six bucks per sale, the platform would be overwhelmed with new submissions, but that simply isn’t the case. Prices vary depending on their platform and whether or not an Audible subscription member is buying it. The price on iTunes, which Audible distributes to, is $21.95. Audible members not using their monthly membership credits spend around $20.08 on books, while members using their credits get you a percentage of the $14.95 sale. Members on the two books a month plan pay the equivalent of $11.28, and members using Audible’s three-month discount offer pay $7.49. Lastly, readers who buy books through Amazon’s Whispersync program pay between $1.99 and $3.99 depending on the length.
All of this means that you can earn as much as $5.74, but as little as 40 cents for each sale. If you’re confused, things will become clearer when you check out your royalty statement. Once again, keep in mind that ACX won’t tell you how much you made throughout the month, so the royalty statement will be the only way for you to figure out exactly how much you made.
3. Your Dashboard
While your Dashboard on ACX won’t tell you how much you’ve made per sale, you can get a pretty good idea once you’ve decoded the site’s abbreviations. ACX refers to an Audible Listener as AL. Sales in the AL column mean that an Audible member with a monthly credit has bought your book, which works out to around $2.99 per sale for a Royalty Share book. ALOP refers to Audible Listener Off-Plan or an Audible member who didn’t use a monthly credit. Audiobook prices vary wildly depending upon the length of the book, but the average is around $20.08, 20 percent of which is $4.02. ALC means A La Carte, or a non-member purchase who’s paid full retail price for a book. Like sales in the ALOP column, the retail price a customer paid will depend on the book’s length and the platform he purchased on. To keep things simple, let’s say this works out to around $28.69, or $5.74 for each sale of a Royalty Share book.
Let’s do a little math. If you make 10 AL sales, 10 ALOP sales, and 10 ALC sales, you’ll earn approximately $29.99 for the first, $40.02 for the second column, and $57.40 for the third for a grand total of $127.41 or an average of $4.25 per sale. As the sales go up from there, you can tell that determining your average earnings per sale will get complicated. That’s why it’s best to wait for the monthly royalty statement before jumping to any conclusions about your earnings.
Bounty is the final column, and we’ll discuss it further in the next point. You and your narrator will split $50 for each bounty.
4. Bounty Payments
Let’s talk more about bounties. Audible wants new members, because it can make around $14.95 per month for each subscriber. That’s $179.40 per year, so it’s willing to pay top dollar if you bring some of your fans into the mix. When a new Audible customer signs up, he gets a free book as part of a 30-day trial. When you tell your readers about the book, encourage them to visit a link that’ll prompt them for the trial. If they select your book as a free trial and stay with the membership for 61 days, you’ll earn a bounty on your royalty statement.
ACX will split the $50 bounty between you and your narrator ($25 each), which is significantly more than any other sale you can make. This is the best way for you to make significant earnings from your books. Encourage your readers who haven’t listened to audiobooks to get a 30-day trial using your book.
Learn Before You Earn
While you can earn more money through non-audio listeners through the bounty system, there are a lot of hungry audiobook listeners you can directly target through Facebook Groups, ads, and audiobook review websites. It’s probably better to go with the Walmart strategy of selling more copies at a lower price to people with less resistance. As you publish more and more books to Audible, you’ll find that audiophiles who enjoyed your first will keep on buying. It takes time to build up your base, but once you get some people on board, selling your audiobooks may become a much easier process.