Howdy, everyone! I'm new to the forums, a big advocate/fan of self-published writers, and I wondered if you self-publishing superstars have ever discussed audiobooks here? I did a search but didn't run across anything yet...

Im an audiobook narrator, and I thought it might be helpful to write a post about audiobook basics for people who are truly starting from square one re: audiobook knowledge. Here's some good general stuff to know...

ACX
Most indie authors create their audiobooks through ACX.com (a site owned by Amazon). Why? Because once you create your audiobook on ACX, the audiobook automatically posts to Audible, Amazon, and Itunes those three sites combined currently equal most of the audiobook market.

When the audiobook sells, you make either 40% (if you opt to pay all narration audiobook fees up front), or 20% (if you do a royalty split with your narrator).

WAYS TO PAY ON ACX
There are no fees to use ACX.com, but you will need to decide how you want to pay your narrator. There are two main ways ACX is set up to pay:

Royalty Share (Main Way #1)
You pay your narrator nothing up front, and then your narrator shares profits with you (you each get 20%). Keep in mind that it may be difficult to attract an awesome, experienced narrator if you go this route but certainly not impossible, especially if your book has awesome sales records!

Per Finished Hour (Main Way #2)
You pay your narrator an agreed-upon up front, per finished hour rate, and then you keep all your royalties when the audiobook sells. "Per Finished Hour" means your hourly rate is based on the length of the finished audiobook, rather than the many more hours it takes to actually make the audiobook.

A great way to estimate the finished length of your book is to know that every 9300 words will be about one finished hour of audio. (It varies from narrator to narrator, but this is a good estimate to start with). So, for example, if you have a 37,200 word book, that'll be about four hours of finished audio (37,200 divided by 9300 = 4).

ACX Stipend (More Rare Way #1)
If ACX decides a particular book is likely to make great money in audiobook sales, then ACX will assign a stipend to the book. This means that if the author opts to do a royalty share deal, then in addition to the royalty share, ACX itself will pay the narrator $100 Per Finished Hour. So, no money comes out of the author's pockets, but narrators are incentivized to audition for those books. Yay!

How does ACX determine which books to assign a stipend to? They won't say. It's a secret and mysterious formula that often seems bizarely random from the outside. But here's a tip: it sometimes takes ACX a while before assigning a stipend. So, if you're hoping your book will get assigned a stipend, leave it up on ACX for at least two weeks, maybe three.

However...stipends seem to have disappeared from ACX for some months now. We don't know yet whether ACX will be reviving them.

"Hybrid Deal" (More Rare Way #2)
This way is not official through ACX. Rather, it's a side deal some narrators will make with authors. Let's say there's a narrator you really want to work with, but you can't afford the narrator's usual per finished hour rate, and the narrator isn't willing to work on a pure royalty share basis. Well, you might be able to strike a "hybrid deal," in which you do a royalty share with the narrator and pay the narrator some up front money, but less than you otherwise would have. The way to do this is to do a royalty contract through ACX, and then pay your narrator the per finished hour rates on the side.

Hope this was helpful! Let me know if I can share anything else from my narrator-y perspective.