Audible Launches ACX, Self Publishing for Audio Books

ACX - audio book creationPer Shelf Awareness today, Audible has launched ACX, which enables authors to create audiobooks of their work, either by narrating them or by hiring voice actors from the registered database of talent.

Here, have a video about it, featuring two actors who really irritated me with their pseudo-bashful self-congratulatory demeanor:

The upshot is that so many excellent books are not made into audio books, and with the increasing success of self-publishing ventures in digital and print-on-demand, audiobooks are a natural extension of that success. The ACX program is available to authors at a flat rate or at a 50/50 share of royalties.

I figure that anything which increases the number of audiobooks for those who need or prefer the format is a very good thing, particularly if it allows authors who hold their audio rights to exercise them for fun and profit. On the flip side, though, as Don Maass said on Twitter, if a publisher exercises unused audio rights, what will be the author’s share in those circumstances? And vice versa?

On one hand, ACX forces everyone to pay closer attention to the potential of audio rights in the digital age. On the other hand, it also forces everyone to take a look at how audio rights exist right now, and what may change with this (and I assume other forthcoming) opportunity.

Sassy Outwater tweeted that she loves the possibilities as both a narrator and a blind person who relies on audio books. What do you think? Would you be interested in a wider selection of audiobooks if authors started self publishing them? Do you wish for a better selection of audio books? If you’re an author, would you use this service? And do you want to hire talent or narrate your own?




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  1. Amy B. says:

    I think it bears noting that (currently at least) you can only create audiobooks of books that are “professionally published.”  Also, Audible sets the price, and (again, currently) they will do quality control on the works.  So it’s not quite along the same lines as self-pubbing through Kindle.

    It’s a brilliant move by Audible, and it’ll greatly expand options for readers and authors.  And will definitely make contract negotiations more interesting for me. 😉

  2. Cindy says:

    There are lots of midlist authors whose books will probably never be made into audiobooks.  I would love to listen to Gini Koch’s Alien books for example, but doubt that I’ll get the chance to.  The selection is getting better, though.  Harlequin (yes, Harlequin!) actually has quite a few racier titles in Audible.

  3. I’m very interested in this product. As a professional broadcaster who’s recorded books for the blind, I’d feel comfortable doing my own books.

    Thanks for the link!

  4. Lynn says:

    I listen to audiobooks all the time and there have been times when I could only listen to a track or two before pulling that cd out of the player—the narrator just didn’t fit or was really bad. 

    The narrator can help a weak story or destroy a strong one. 

    Mary Pope Osborne (of Magic Treehouse fame) narrates her own stories and she is great but I wouldn’t trust all authors to do the same unless they are memoirs of actors—who else can play the voice of Captain Kirk but William Shatner but for the most part leave the narrating to the professionals…

  5. Vic says:

    I’m an avid audiobook listener and am VERY excited about this.  I think it’s a brilliant move by audible and I do appreciate them doing a little QA on the audiobook before just putting in for people to spend their credits on.  I hope most authors will hire the talent because that would definitely be a huge factor in my decision on purchasing.

  6. LG says:

    Is anyone else familiar with Podiobooks? It’s been ages since I last went to their site, but they had tons of self-published (in addition to a few out-of-copyright) audiobooks, often narrated by the authors themselves.

  7. This looks really interesting. While I think I’m a good reader, I’m not a professional reader. Just like I’m an OK artist (drawing wise) but that doesn’t mean I can do my own book covers.

    I would pay SmartBitch Sarahy to read my books. Her voice sounds amazing… mine does not.

    So, if I do this, I’d pay a professional.

  8. I’m trying to imagine narrating one of my books…

    “Lady, I’ve never had a fiancée, fake or otherwise,” he said in a low…

    No, you can’t have another fudge pop.

    …voice that made her knees weaken just a little. “And it’s been a while…

    Somebody take the dog out before she digs through the steel door!

    …since I’ve gone on a decent bender, so if I’d asked you to marry me, I’m pretty sure I’d at least remember your face.”

    That would have…

    Somebody answer the damn phone!

    …been hard to do. “We’ve never actually met.”

    Plus I’d no doubt be giggling during the sex scenes. Definitely a job for a professional.

  9. Maria says:

    I enjoy listening to audio books while I’m knitting. They are a different medium, though the difference isn’t as great as book to movie. For example, I MUCH prefer Grammy-award winning Jim Dale’s renditions of the Harry Potter books to the movies. There are several kinds of books that I don’t want to listen to. Some authors feel compelled to give a lot of detail that I would skim if I’m reading (I thought I would lose my mind listening to The Da Vinci Code on audio as there’s no “skim” button). Dean Koontz is another author I don’t care to listen to, no way to skim the gory details of otherwise very cool books. I couldn’t even get past the second chapter of an Alice Walker book in audio. So, it really depends on the book.

    Also, it would wonderful if self-publishing audio brought the prices down some.

  10. Carin says:

    Lynn said this:

    The narrator can help a weak story or destroy a strong one.


    YES!  I find this to be very true.  I *love* the In Death books on audio, and actually prefer to listen than to read because I love the narrator.  Susan Elizabeth Phillips has great narrators, too.  Time just FLIES.  But while I love to read the Black Dagger Brotherhood books myself, I just couldn’t tolerate the audio.  There wasn’t much differentiation between character voices, which got confusing.  I just couldn’t listen.

    And I agree with what Maria said, too.  There are some books that I just need to skim.  I’m listening to Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series and loving it, but in each book there tends to be a storyline I just don’t care about.  If I were reading it, I totally skim until the next double carriage return signaled me we were moving back to another storyline.

  11. chisai says:

    Honestly, the quality of SO many self-published books is so dreadful, both in terms of writing and editing, that I’m delighted that the books would need to be professionally published and quality checked by Audible.  It’s one thing to be out .99 or 2.99 for something that ends up unreadable, it’s another thing entirely to be out what an audiobook will cost.

    I like audio books, but never for a first read, with the exception of Sarah Vowell who is awesome but needs to be heard to be fully enjoyed. 

    I would LOVE to hear a JR Ward audio book.  All those “I’m Outtie’s” and such would be freakin’ hysterical.

  12. Jill says:

    **Waves hands and arms wildly** Yes! Yes!! AND YES!!

    The more choices of audiobooks, especially from up-and-coming authors, the better. I drive endless number of miles (and walk endless miles at the end of dog leashes), and audiobooks are my BFFs. Often I have one going in the car’s CD player and another one on the iPod.

    But as others have said, the narrator is everything, so I’m glad to hear there would be quality control—and Audible tends to do great audiobooks.

    And @Carin, are we twins? We have the exact same opinions on the “In Death” series, SEP’s books and the “Troubleshooters” series. 🙂

  13. Kaetrin says:

    What a clever move by Audible. 

    I’d recommend authors pay the money to hire good narrators though – the narrator can bring so much extra to a story. 

    Renee Raudman does such a great job with the Kate Daniels series and I loved the way she did Crusie & Co’s Dogs & Goddesses and Kleypas’ Blue Eyed Devil.  She co-narrated the latest Brockmann too. Lorelie King does wonders with the Mercy Thompson series.  The late Anna Fields/Kate Fleming was excellent with the SEP books and Susan Ericksen kicks ass on the in Death books (although I have trouble listening to her do other books now, she’s “typecast” for me!). Davina Porter brings something extra special to the Outlander series and… well, I could go on and on.

    I’d like to see Pamela Clare’s I-Team books on audio – the author told me the publisher has the rights but hasn’t done anything with them yet.  Sad 🙁

    More quality audiobooks = win!  (but please, NO geo restrictions!!)

  14. Shop 4 Books says:

    Very informative. I agree a lot of the better books are not being released in audio and audio books are very useful to loads of people for loads of reasons.

  15. henofthewoods says:

    Thomas Edison gave a list of potential uses for recording. Boiled down they are:
      * Letter writing and dictation
      * Talking books for the blind
      * The teaching of elocution
      * Music recording
      * Recording of family voices
      * Music boxes and toys, such as dolls with voices (he created Teddy Ruxpin…)
      * Talking clocks
      * Recording the speeches of great men
      * Educational records
      * An auxiliary to the telephone (the answering machine/voice mail)
    What amazes me is that some of the uses took another 50, 75, or 100 years but they all eventually happened.
    If it was a good idea in 1877, it may still be a good idea even though the technology has changed a bit from coated cylinders.

  16. JoanneF says:

    A little self-awareness on the author’s part would be imperative for this venture, IMO.  Know when to hire a professional.  I enjoy audiobooks in the car.  I recently listened to a book narrated by the (very prominent) author.  The book had very serious subject matter (the death of a parent and it’s effect on the family) and the author had a very whiny voice and upper-Midwestern accent.  She sounded just like Herb Tarlick’s wife from “WKRP in Cincinnati.”  It ruined the book.

  17. If this means that there will be more audiobooks available then I think it will be good. Having said that I am concerned about quality.

  18. Gary says:

    I’m looking forward to the self-publishing market explosion for audio books. I’ve been an avid listener for years on my commute to the daily grind. I’m also breaking in to the Voice Over business and finally putting my broadcasting degree and voice to work.  If anyone has books they want to get recorded, hit me up I have the equipment in my home to make a nice recording for you.

  19. I am still trying to get my head around this all. Apparently my publishers who still retain the rights to my books have put them up as a progect. I am still trying to find out what this means for me as the author. Mind you, I could never do my own book. I suck big time at reading out loud, especially my own work, plus I have a strong australian accent.

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