ACX (Audio Creation Exchange) is one of the best if not the best ways to make money by narrating books and it’s completely free. It’s a legitimate platform available through ACX.com that works as an intermediator between a book owner and a narrator and ensures the payments are received for both parties. ACX is a part of Audible, a subsidiary of Amazon which adds a lot in terms of trustworthiness.
ACX offers either fixed, royalty share or royalty share plus types of payments and they also take a cut for distributing the product.
ACX is a mediator between the book author and the narrator to make it easier for both. Once finished the audiobook goes for sale on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. On ACX you’ll find hundreds of titles to audition for at different rates. Most of the offerings will be on the lower end but you can find some more luxurious gigs as well.
The great thing about ACX is that you can find an offer that’s appropriate for the level of skill you have even if you’re just starting as a voice-over narrator.
In this article, we’ll further review how you can earn using ACX to narrate audiobooks.
How long does it take to record one hour of audiobook?
Usually, it takes at least 8 hours to make 1 hour of finished recording but it could take even longer than that. Consider that’ll you’ll have to read the whole book before beginning to record it. Certainly, you won’t record it in one go without any failures and you’ll have to listen through the whole recording, remove the retakes and make sure it’s clean and consistent. Then some mastering will have to take place.
Hence, make sure you know how much you’re getting paid per hour before agreeing to work. If it’s $100 per finished hour, that’s only $12.5 per hour if it takes you 8 hours to make 1 hour of the finished product. And if you’re new to voice over it’ll probably take even more than 8 hours.
How much can you make with ACX?
With royalty shares, it’s hard to tell how much you’re going to make as it depends a lot on the book. Audible subscription currently goes for $12.45 per book of which you’re getting 20%, that’s $2.50 per audiobook, meaning you’ll have to sell 40 audiobooks to earn $100.
With fixed pricing, it’s much more straightforward as you know how much you’re getting paid per finished hour (PFH) before auditioning.
At the moment, there’re 286 titles accepting auditions and offering fixed pricing on ACX:
- 176 paying $50-$100 PFH
- 81 paying $100-$200 PFH
- 25 paying $200-$400 PFH
- 4 paying $400-$1000 PFH
An average fixed price audiobook will offer $82-$167 PFH (per finished hour), if we assume that it takes 8 hours to make 1 hour of a finished product and consider $125 to be an average PFH, then an average audiobook narrator can earn about $15 per hour on ACX. On the other hand, aspiring voice actors probably won’t compete well against professional voice actors and will earn around $9 per hour while experienced high-end voice actors can earn as much as $90 per hour on ACX.
What’s Royalty share plus?
Royalty shares plus is quite compelling, as it offers both fixed payment and royalty shares giving you a chance to immediately earn the money and have some payments come in the future through royalty shares. At the moment there’re 263 titles that offer the Royalty shares plus compensation method.
They don’t disclose the exact fixed amount of money you’ll receive on top of royalty shares, therefore, it’s hard to tell what the average pay would be with Royalty share plus.
Should you audition for Royalty share books?
Royalty shares will give 20% of the revenue from each sale, Amazon will take 60% and the book owner will receive 20% as well. If an audiobook sells for $12.45, you’ll be earning $2.5 per sale.
Currently, there’re 1111 books available to audition for with the Royalty share compensation method.
With Royalty share, it’s nice when the audiobook is selling well, however, the opposite is more possible – most of the audiobooks don’t sell that well and it takes a lot of sales to earn a significant amount of money, while the work it takes to produce an audiobook is hard and long.
With royalty share aim for the books that have decent popularity on Amazon. I would not go for any books over 50,000 rank unless you’re willing to work for free just for the sake of practice.
When choosing a book to audition for look for Amazon reviews. If it’s not doing good as a book and there are no reviews it probably won’t do good as an audiobook either.
Figure out whether the author has a way to promote the book if there’s no mention of promotion it probably won’t be promoted and it’ll be rough. Also, check if the author has any following on social media which might be helpful when promoting the book. If possible you may want to contact the author to get some details about the promotion of the audiobook and if you have the means to promote the audiobook yourself, that’s great.
ACX quality requirements
ACX has certain audio quality requirements. Don’t expect to be an ACX audiobook narrator using a smartphone or laptop microphone. And make your environment suited for professional recordings.
You don’t need the most expensive microphone in the world but I would suggest getting at least an entry-level XLR microphone with a cheaper audio interface. All of which will probably cost around $300 including all the other smaller purchases such as shock mount, XLR cable, pop filter and boom arm. You can find some good recommendations for budget microphones here.
Alternatively, you may buy a USB microphone. USB microphones don’t require an audio interface, nor XLR cable which makes them much cheaper compared to XLR cables. However, the caveat with USB microphones is the quality. USB connection is inferior to XLR connection and won’t provide the same audio quality, which will make it harder to get the gig.
If you’re unwilling to invest in an XLR microphone, you can try getting a hybrid of USB/XLR microphone that has both connections and will allow you to purchase an audio interface and upgrade to XLR later in the future, while in the meantime, you can use it with USB connection.
In addition, you’ll be required to meet certain ACX technical requirements such as RMS in between -23dB and -18dB, -3dB peak values and noise floor no higher than -60dB. All of which can be checked through ACX check plugin.