Audiobook Publishers: The Top 6 & How Authors Can Fast Track Their Writing Career
Get the real breakdown of what audiobook royalties look like under the major distributors Audible & Findaway Voices.
In this article, you will learn:
- Online Stores & Sales Information Insight for Authors
- The Different Publishing Options with Audible (ACX)
- How Audiobook Royalties Work with Findaway Voices
- Audiobook Option 2: Pay for Production
- Who are the Distribution Partners of Findaway Voices?
Online Stores & Sales Information Insight for Authors
The audiobook is one of the fastest-growing segments in the online publishing industry. In fact, audiobook sales revenue in the United States reached $1.3 billion in 2020, which continues an upward trend that started in 2018.
You’ll discover that the audiobook distributors and retailers on this list take a large portion of the profits from each audiobook sale. However, the game is changing. If you want to fast track your writing career so you can go full-time sooner, then check out this audiobook distributor that lets authors keep all the profits by cutting out the middle man. You’ll discover that’s just the beginning of the benefits they offer.
1. Audible (ACX)
Image courtesy of Katie McBroom via Unsplash
The biggest audiobook publisher on this list is Amazon’s Audible. The audiobook store offers more than 200,000 pieces of audio content to listeners worldwide.
Users can choose to enroll in their 30-day free trial and get a free audiobook each month along with a 70% discount on every extra title they pick up after.
To start selling on Amazon’s Audible, you need to go through the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) of Amazon KDP. This is the platform that can produce and begin distributing not only to Audible but also to Amazon and iTunes. This is also the place where you can hire or contract with an .
All producer has varies widely on the platform, so you’ll want to look over profiles closely and get sample audiobook files before reaching an agreement. authors that want their title to show up in , have to do it through ACX. The range of experience an
Many of the producers are professional voice actors who have been in the for many years. Keep your audience in mind before making a decision. can make a big difference for .
ACX offers three options for publishing your digital audiobook. You get to choose your producer, negotiate on production expenses, and even set your own production schedule.
You can even leverage the ACX distribution network for all completed audiobook files by putting up your content directly using their DIY option.
At this time, here are the three options ACX offers to authors:
Audiobook Option 1: Royalty Share & Royalty Share Plus
ACX’s Royalty Share option provides authors with the flexibility that will allow them to compensate their producers by providing them with an equal share of all royalty earnings for a designated audiobook.
Authors with this option can reduce or avoid paying extra to have their audiobook produced and distributed by the platform.
The primary benefits of this option are:
- Earnings are split equally with the producer while letting you earn 20% royalties for all audiobook sales.
- A one-time payment will let you gain access to a higher tier of producers to choose from.
- No need to worry about paying out-of-pocket expenses while your producer receives equal payment of the proceeds of your audiobook.
Meanwhile, the common benefits of this option are:
- Distribution to Audible, Amazon, iTunes, and their global stores
- The distribution term is locked at 7 years, with automatic renewals happening in one-year increments
- Audiobook content will be available in Audible stores in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany, France, Australia, and Japan
- Additional $75 bonus each time your audiobook is the first listen of a new Audible member
Audiobook Option 2: Pay for Production
The second deal available to ACX authors is the option to invest in your own audiobook production.
With this deal, you pay a one-time fee to your chosen producer depending on the length of your accomplished audiobook. In exchange for this, you get to retain full audio rights while keeping control of how you distribute your content.
The primary benefits of this option are:
- You get to earn 40% of all retail sales on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes with the added benefit of exclusive distribution.
- You can also choose to retain the right to distribute on other platforms while earning 25% of retail sales on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.
- You only have to pay your producer a one-time fee to work on production and then you get to collect your royalties in full.
Similar to the first option, authors can take advantage of the common benefits that are provided for all ACX members.
Audiobook Option 3: Do It Yourself
If you prefer to produce your own or you already have your ready, then the third option is for you.
Option 3 lets you upload your directly to the ACX platform and leverage their powerful network. You get to choose to distribute exclusively or non-exclusively while receiving monthly payments as well.
These are the benefits you can expect from this option:
- You get to earn 40% of all retail sales on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes with the added benefit of exclusive distribution.
- You can also choose to retain the right to distribute on other platforms while earning 25% of retail sales on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.
- You provide the finished audio version to ACX and they’ll take care of distribution and payment.
The common benefits of the ACX audiobook service apply here as well.
Note on ACX’s Exclusive & Non-Exclusive Models
When choosing to pay for your own production, you also get to select whether you want it to be an Exclusive or Non-Exclusive type of deal.
With the Exclusive model, authors are locked for 7 years with ACX and are not allowed to distribute their audiobook content on other platforms. The advantage of this is that you get to keep 40% of every retail sale.
For the Non-Exclusive model, authors are free to distribute elsewhere but are limited to only 25% of retail sales.
What Is ACX’s Updated Distribution Policy?
Due to the “Audiblegate” controversy, ACX has made many changes to its policies over the years.
Their updated distribution policy states that all ACX rights holders of either the DIY or Pay-for-Production options who have their titles on sale for 90 days or more can change their distribution type from exclusive to non-exclusive. When this happens, the applicable royalty rate as discussed above changes as well.
Additionally, any ACX rights holder can request termination of their title distribution if their audiobook has already been on sale for 90 days or more. However, Royalty Share or Royalty Share Plus rights holders must first get consent from their producers before they are allowed to terminate distribution.
Be forewarned, Audible’s monthly subscription price and heavily discounted audiobooks will affect your audiobook royalties.
2. Findaway Voices
Findaway Voices is a self-publishing audiobook platform that aims to connect authors with a professional narrator and distribute their finished titles to 170 different countries worldwide. It offers various subscription services, audiobook retailers, and libraries to choose from.
Despite the popularity of audiobooks, there are not many options available for authors nowadays. The Audiobook Creation Exchange made by Audible is the most popular, as seen above, yet it is only available to authors within the U.S., U.K., and Canada. Meanwhile, others are also available but lack the footprint necessary for authors to fully promote.
That is why Findaway Voices was developed, as it is designed to work directly with any author.
Authors with existing e-books can register with Findaway Voices and provide them with details regarding their titles. The platform should be informed about the genre and the desired type of narrator. Narrators can be anyone from a male with a French accent or a woman with a British accent.
Findaway Voices will then get your title and have at least five narrators provide samples along with a financial quote. All of their samples have different production values ranging from simple home setups to full and proper studios.
After choosing a narrator, the author will be required to make a small deposit either through PayPal or a credit card. They can then settle the remaining balance after the final product has been completed.
How Do Audiobook Royalties Work with Findaway Voices?
When it comes to royalties, you get to set the price for your audiobook. Regarding fees from the sale of your audiobook, the retailer will take 50% of the purchase price off the top. If the retailer is Audible, they will take 75%. Of the remaining amount, ranging from 25% – 50%, Findaway Voices keeps 20% of each sale you make and you’ll keep 80% of what’s left.
Throughout this document, we’ll use an example audiobook price of $15 to show how each model works with retailers.
Let’s consider an audiobook priced at $15. When a sale is made, the non-Audible retailer will take up to 50% (or $7.5), and the remaining 50% will be sent to Findaway Voices. Of that amount ($7.50), 20% will be kept by Findaway Voices (or $1.50). The remaining proceeds then go to the author, which is $6 for a $15 audiobook.
Here’s how the Audible example breaks down. For a $15 audiobook, Audible, which is the retailer, will take 75% ($11.25). The remaining 25% is sent to Findaway Voices. Of this amount, they will keep 20% ($.75) and the author will keep the remaining 80% ($3).
If you want to receive updates on your sales then you can take advantage of their real-time preliminary sales reporting feature. You get to see the breakdown of cost by each retailer, pinpoint a specific date range, and even download these reports in CSV formats for more in-depth analysis.
However, the real-time reporting feature is only available for some distribution partners.
Findaway Voices also has promotional pricing tools available to help make your audiobook find more success. If you have a Chirp Deal, you can make the most of your series with follow-up sales using promotional pricing methods. You can also use giveaway codes to promote your titles while data on how you can best price your promotions is readily available from Findaway Voices.
Who Are the Distribution Partners of Findaway Voices?
Perhaps the biggest reason why many authors publish with Findaway Voices is because of their vast network of distribution partners. In fact, they are the largest audiobook distributor at this time.
Here is a list of their retailers:
The great thing about Findaway Voices is that authors only have to go through the verification process for their title once. Authors who have been approved can then have their audiobook published to all of their retail partners in the network.
After an audiobook has been added to all these platforms, a dashboard is going to inform the author each time a sale is made. Some sales are reported to you immediately while others follow their own reporting schedule. Royalties also depend on the company selling the book, with no industry standard to follow.
What Are Chirp Deals in Findaway Voices?
Authors who are using Findaway Voices to distribute their audiobooks can opt to have their titles added as Chirp Deals. When accepted, your audiobook can be added to limited-time deals that audiobook listeners can purchase a la carte straight from the website.
All of the deals featured on the Chirp portal are provided by publishers and authors while they are curated by a top-notch editorial team.
Each time a listener receives their daily Chirp audiobook deals email, these deals only link to Chirp and not other retailers.
The company behind Chirp (BookBub) has been known for mastering the art of directing the right readers to the right books. They are excellent at incentivizing readers to act fast through their limited-time deals.
That is why authors who decide to go down the Chirp Deals route can truly get their titles out there to an even wider and bigger audience.
3. Listen Up
Another top publishing company on this list is ListenUp Audiobooks. The platform offers another excellent alternative for independent authors who are looking to transform their books into audiobook content.
ListenUp Audiobooks is based out of Atlanta and has been known for winning several production awards. They are also in partnership with entities like Kobo Writing Life, The Alliance of Independent Authors, Reedsy, Draft-2-Digital, and IngramSpark.
How Does Publishing Work on ListenUp Audiobooks?
Independent authors and publishers can expect audiobook production and non-exclusive distribution services with ListenUp Audiobooks. Similar to Findaway Voices, authors will get 80% of royalties after retailer fees. They also partner with retailers and libraries that are located in more than 190 countries.
Aside from that, authors can set the prices for their audiobook content with ListenUp. They are also informed of each distinct guideline from individual audiobook distributors on how they price their audiobooks along with a determining factor based on the length.
However, you should expect a $149 to $199 upfront fee when you decide to distribute with ListenUp Audiobooks. Fortunately, this fee will be waived if you choose to produce your audiobook with ListenUp.
How Does Royalty Share Work With ListenUp Audiobooks?
As mentioned earlier, authors are paid 80% of the royalties that they get from retailers and this is after the retailer has taken anywhere from 40% to 50% of the purchase price first.
If you choose to distribute to Amazon, Audible, and iTunes via ListenUp, you will get 25% non-exclusive royalty from Audible while ListenUp gets 20% of that amount, and you’ll keep 80%.
Here is an example of a royalty payment with Audible and ListenUp. Let’s say your audiobook is $15 again. Audible will take 75% of the purchase price ($11.25). The remaining 25% ($3.75) is passed on to ListenUp. Of this amount, ListenUp will take 20% ($.75) and you’ll receive 80% of what’s left ($3).
As for non-Audible retailers such as Nook, Kobo, and Google, ListenUp will receive a 40% to 50% royalty from all of these retailers. ListenUp also gives 80% of royalties to the author while keeping 20%.
Let’s walk through an example with a non-Audible retailer. We’ll use the same $15 audiobook. The retailer will take 40% to 50% of the purchase price (a maximum of $7.50). The remaining 40% to 50% is passed on to ListenUp. Of this amount, ListenUp will take 20% ($1.50 maximum) and you, the author, will receive the remaining 80% ($6 maximum) for each audiobook sold.
Are There Any Author Restrictions With ListenUp Audiobooks?
Despite the amazing benefits to authors offered by ListenUp Audiobooks, there are unfortunately a few restrictions that you need to be aware of before deciding to publish here.
- Although some platforms may allow discounts on your audiobooks, these promos will be only for a limited time and will not be a direct price change. Meanwhile, some platforms are only limited to price changes and not discounts.
- You cannot have an exclusive landing page with ListenUp Audiobooks. This means that you won’t have the ability to personalize your page and branding will essentially be non-existent here.
- Lastly, you won’t be able to know who purchased your audiobooks on the platform. This inability will reflect across all audiobook retailers that have partnered with ListenUp Audiobooks.
4. Author's Republic
Unlike the others on this list, Author’s Republic operates only as an audiobook distributor, as they do not offer production solutions on their own.
However, they have partnerships with several producers that authors can set up production deals with. Some of the producers they have at the ready are:
- Deyan Audio
- Spoke Media
- Pro Audio Voices
How Does Publishing Work on Author’s Republic?
As mentioned earlier, Author’s Republic works as an aggregate distributor. This means that they will help increase exposure as well as a market presence for authors and independent publishers by helping get their content on all major audiobook distribution platforms.
Here’s how the process at Author’s Republic works:
- Get started: As the rights holder, you come to Author’s Republic with your completed audiobook and then register an account with them.
- Planning: You get to tell Author’s Republic which retailers and distributors you want to work with by filling out a form with all necessary information.
- Project kickoff: Once that’s done, you can submit the audiobook to Author’s Republic. They will then check to ensure that the content meets their minimum standards. Author’s Republic will let you know if there’s an issue with the metadata or files you sent.
- Development: Your book will then be analyzed by the audiobook distributors that you’ve requested. If you’re accepted, your audiobook will be available for sale on their respective platforms. The time it takes for this to happen could be as little as 5 business days or as long as 60, depending on the chosen distributor.
- The result: You will start receiving author royalties based on how much your audiobook earns on more than 50 channels, including major distributors like iTunes, Audiobooks.com, and Audible. Author’s Republic will also provide you with a sales report where you can find all relevant information on sales.
How Does Royalty Share Work With Author’s Republic?
With Author’s Republic, member authors are paid 70% of the royalties after retailer fees that they get from sales of their audiobooks. Royalties with Author’s Republic are similar to Findaway Voices and ListenUp except they take a higher percentage of each royalty.
Authors who have chosen to distribute to Audible, Amazon, and iTunes through Author’s Republic can expect a 25% non-exclusive royalty from Audible. Meanwhile, Author’s Republic will provide the author with 70% of the remaining 25% royalty while keeping 30%.
Here is an example of a royalty payment with Audible and Author’s Republic. Let’s say your audiobook is $15 again. Audible will take 75% of the purchase price ($11.25). The remaining 25% ($3.75) is passed on to ListenUp. Of this amount, ListenUp will take 30% ($1.25) and you’ll receive 70% of what’s left ($5.25) for each audiobook sold.
For authors who have chosen non-Audible retailers like Overdrive, Google, Nook, Scribd, and Kobo, the royalty rates that Author’s Republic provides will be different depending on the partner. Some retailers use the sale price of the author or rental prices, while others are based on library prices.
Normally, Author’s Republic will receive a 50% royalty rate from all of their partner retailers. Author’s Republic will still follow the same 70-30 royalty agreement between them and the author.
To walk through an example with a non-Audible retailer, let’s say your audiobook retails for $15. The retailer will take 40%-50% of the purchase price (a maximum of $7.50). The remaining 40% – 50% is passed on to Author’s Republic. Of this amount, Author’s Republic will take 30% ($2.25 maximum) and you, the author, will receive the remaining 70% ($5.25 maximum) for each audiobook sold.
What Are the Length Requirements for Author’s Republic Audiobooks?
In terms of minimum length requirements, Author’s Republic accepts audiobooks of all durations – whether it’s a 3-minute read or a long 40-hour piece.
However, authors should keep in mind that short books sell differently compared to their long counterparts. Since much of the audiobook market follows a subscription model, it can be difficult for short books to compete against longer-length titles if they have similar prices through various distributors.
For the highest probability of success, authors are encouraged to bundle their short titles so that they have an audiobook collection that they can market at a more competitive pricing range.
It is possible to submit both individual titles and bundle collections as separate products. This lets you leverage all of the various business models their partners use when selling audiobooks.
What Are the Audio Requirements for Author’s Republic Audiobooks?
The audio requirements for submitting audiobooks at Author’s Republic will depend on which distributors the author has chosen.
If choosing to distribute via all of their partners, the audio files need to meet the following:
- Audiobook has consistent sound and formatting from start to finish
- Audiobook needs to be comprised of either all stereo or all mono files
- Audiobook must have opening and closing credits and these should be in separate tracks
- Audiobook has to be narrated by a human
- Every uploaded file needs to have only a single chapter or section
- Every uploaded file needs to have a length of no longer than 80 minutes
- Every uploaded file needs to have between 0.5 and 1 second of silence at the head, and 1 and 5 seconds of silence at the tail of every track
- Every uploaded file must not have extraneous sounds such as mic pops, plosives, excess mouth noise, outtakes, and mouse clicks
- Every uploaded file should measure between -23dB and -18dB RMS
- Every uploaded file should not have a peak value higher than -3dB
- Every uploaded file must have a noise floor of -60dB RMS or less
- All uploaded files need to be 192kbps
- All uploaded files need to be 44.1 kHz
- Every uploaded file must not have a size larger than 170MB
- The opening tracks, cover art, and metadata all need to have the same information
5. Kobo Writing Life
Kobo Writing Life is a free publisher portal that allows authors as well as publishers to make, edit, and publish their audiobooks to Kobo.
When you decide to distribute your title through Kobo Writing Life, you can make your audiobook available to readers in more than 200 countries worldwide. Besides that, you are choosing to leverage the strong retail partners of Kobo that have been around for many years.
Although Kobo Writing Life started as an ebook publisher, it began welcoming audiobook authors as well in September 2019.
Indie publishers who wish to promote their audiobooks on the platform can see their titles distributed to Kobo.com, Indigo, Bolk, and even Walmart. What’s even better is that your audiobook will not be exclusive to Kobo Writing Life and its retail partners if you choose to distribute with them.
How Does Publishing Work With Kobo Writing Life?
When you want to publish your title to Kobo Writing Life, you need to first create an account on their website. Once you have an account, you can then upload your chosen manuscript and decide on the price for it.
Kobo Writing Life will then add your title to the Kobo catalog within 72 hours. If approved, your audiobook can stay there as long as you desire.
Another great thing about Kobo Writing Life is that you’re in charge when it comes to your own content. You own the rights to your published work, you get to set the price, and you can even run your own promotions. The platform does not require exclusivity for its publishers and you can freely publish on other platforms if you wish.
How Does Royalty Share Work With Kobo Writing Life?
Authors who choose Kobo Writing Life will get a 45% royalty for the list price of each audiobook that is sold. However, the title should adhere to the following pricing rules:
- Greater than or equal to $2.99 USD in the US,
- Greater than or equal to £1.99 GBP in the UK,
- Greater than or equal to $2.99 CAD in Canada,
- Greater than or equal to $2.99 AUD in Australia,
- Greater than or equal to €1.99 EUR in the European Union,
- Greater than or equal to $2.99 NZD in New Zealand,
- Greater than or equal to $15.99 HKD in Hong Kong,
- Greater than or equal to ¥299JPY in Japan.
For author works that are priced lower than this threshold, you will get 35% royalties for each audiobook sold. As for books that are included in the public domain, you get a 20% royalty of the list price.
Your royalty payments from Kobo Writing Life will be sent by way of electronic fund transfer straight to your bank account. All authors are paid 45 days after the end of every monthly period, given that they have met the minimum $50 USD threshold.
The final audiobook distributor on this list is Publishdrive. Publishdrive is one of the top audiobook websites that leverages the best technology so that it can publish any format easily and more conveniently for both authors and publishers.
Most audiobook publishers may already know what Publishdrive is all about. This self-publishing platform is capable of reaching more than 400 online stores and 240,000 libraries within its network.
The Publishdrive team not only is capable of providing services for both print-on-demand and ebook distribution, but it can also allow audiobook authors to get their titles out into the world.
How Does Publishing Audiobooks Work on Publishdrive?
Publishdrive has been around since 2015 and has helped countless audiobook companies and individuals maximize their royalties by allowing them to go global and digital. In fact, Publishdrive claims to have published titles from close to 18,000 authors in 2020.
With Publishdrive, you get to publish widely and earn as much money as you can get for each sale you make. You simply need to upload your title to the platform, configure your metadata, select the stores you wish to sell to, and then submit the book for a quick review.
Once your title has been approved, Publishdrive will immediately publish your title to the bookstores you have chosen. You just sit back and let the platform worry about your various revenue streams.
One of the best features of publishing with Publishdrive is that it syncs any and all of your books across different stores all in one place. Once you sign up, you do not need to worry about moving your titles around as well. The platform ensures that authors can manage all of them easily.
When you choose Publishdrive, you can track your sales in real-time, generate reports, and even identify trends thanks to its analytics tools. Instead of using spreadsheets, the audiobook distributor lets users see what’s going on with their book sales live.
How Does Royalty Share Work with Publishdrive?
Compared to other audiobook companies, Publishdrive does not take any commission for sales of your audiobooks. This means that you get to keep any royalties after the retailer fee, which can range anywhere from 50% – 75% of the purchase price. On top of retailer fees, there is also a monthly subscription fee that the author must pay Publisher Drive to sell their audiobooks through the platform.
The exact royalty calculations are similar to the previous examples we have provided so far between Audible and non-Audible retailers, except the monthly fee is also added into the author’s cost.
And that monthly fee depends on the number of audiobook titles within the author’s catalog.
Unlike the publishers in this list, Publishdrive offers plans to authors interested in publishing with them. Here are the quick details of their subscription model:
- Starter: $9.99 per month and publish a maximum of 2 books
- Standard: $19.99 per month and publish a maximum of 6 books
- Plus: $49.99 per month and publish a maximum of 24 books
- Pro: $99.99 per month and publish a maximum of 48 books
All plans allow authors to promote their books across multiple sales channels while offering real-time sales analytics. The Pro plan however has an extra feature that lets users upload and manage their books in bulk.
What Are the Requirements to Publish Audiobooks in Publishdrive?
Once you have your audiobook narrated, you should start preparing your files for audiobook distribution at Publishdrive.
You want to make sure:
- All audio files are in MP3 format
- The cover design for your audiobook should have a 1400×1400 resolution
Most stores require the following for the best listening experience:
- The audiobook has to be separated into chapters
- The narrator should read all titles and chapter numbers out loud at the beginning of each chapter
- Each chapter should not exceed 120 minutes in length
To publish to other stores supported by Publishdrive, you need to fulfill specific technical requirements.
The following are necessary for the cover file:
- Use the preferred .jpg format together with RGB color scheme
- Use square format with similar height and width
- Have a cover resolution of 1400×1400 pixels
- Have a resolution no smaller than 72 dpi
- The audiobook cover should have an appropriate title and the author included
- The author name and title for the audiobook cover should match the metadata used
- All images should be a true square and not a rectangular image that has borders
- Using horizontal or vertical borders are not allowed
- The cover image should not mention physical media besides the audio used
- The image used should not be a scanned copy
- Cover images should not be pixelated or blurry
Meanwhile, all audio files should meet these criteria:
- Must be in approved MP3 format
- 192 kbps or higher
- Audio should be of high quality with no background noise
- Each audio file needs to have a 0.5 to 1 second spacing at the start and 1 to 5 seconds of room tone by the end
- Each audio file should not be longer than 120 minutes
- The opening and closing chapters should tell the title, author, narrator, copyright information, and publisher (optional)
- Each audio file should measure between -24dB and -14dB RMS
- Each audio file should not have a peak value higher than -6dB
- Make sure that audio files do not have mouth noises, vocal artifacts, clicks and pops, long gaps of audio silence, or any background noise
The Audiobook Distributor I Recommend
While we’ve looked at several audiobook distributors and publishers on this list, each model takes a large portion of the profits from each audiobook sale. What if you didn’t have to pay the retailer or the distributor fees? What if you could cut those costs altogether, keep all the profit, and only pay a monthly subscription to sell your audiobooks? If that sounds like a winner to you, like it did to me, then check out this audiobook distributor.
Conclusion: The Top 6 Audiobook Publishers
As you can see, publishing audiobooks through these top platforms vary depending on the publisher. Some platforms offer audiobook production together with distribution while others only prioritize distribution.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that for all audiobook publishing companies on this list, authors cannot have an exclusive landing page and will not know who has bought their titles.
Furthermore, out of all audiobook publishers on this list, it appears that ACX is the most exclusive of them all. The good news is that authors have several other options in case they are not satisfied with what Audible has to offer.
We hope that the information provided in this article can help you decide which audiobook publisher is best for your needs.