Is it for real? : My first month (and 4 days) with ACX

ACX, the Audiobook Creation Exchange, promises to match up aspiring narrators with (mostly) independent authors looking to turn their fiction into audiobooks.

I put up one “demo” in my profile. And I started to audition on April 4th.

The first book I saw was a short novella, “Scoring Bertram Wiggly” where the author, Man Martin, was hoping for a narrator who could sing, as his story was a musical theatre parody with songs. I thought that sounded perfect, so I auditioned. I was a Royalty Share work, but that would be fine, I was expecting that I would have to do most things that way (free, unless the audiobook sold, and then 20% of sales.)

Then I didn’t just sit back and wait. I kept auditioning. In fact, as of right now, I have auditioned for 86 titles.

BertramI was a couple of auditions in, when Man Martin made me an offer to record “Scoring Bertram Wiggly”. I was certainly feeling pretty good. I could now always say I had landed my first audition. Also, the book was a ton of fun, and has since turned into something I have other ideas for, and will be working with the author on. But that is for later…

I notices that while a small percentage of the listed titles, there were indeed a fair amount of paid titles. So, for my next (5th or 6th) audition, I took a chance and auditioned for the fantasy novella, “Magic Factory”. I had an offer from the author, James Livingood, the next morning.

I auditioned for 2 titles from Charles River Editors. Both were short histories; “Hades: The History, Origins and Evolution of the Greek God” and “The Gallic Wars: The Campaigns that made Julius Ceasar a Roman Legend”. I got those, and noticed the company was posting a lot of their titles. I have since done several more with them.

I am about to start narrating my first full-length novel, “Midnight Riders.” It is also a royalty share, but it is something right up my alley, a historical comedy with fantasy elements. I’m looking forward to it.

So, where am I now with ACX, and is it possible to make money with them?

As I said, I have auditioned for 86 titles thus far. I have received 26 offers, and I have accepted them all. I have fully completed 23 projects. I am starting work on that full novel, and a short self-help title. One title I accepted was pulled (rights issues??) after they had approved my first 15 minutes. (I’m glad I hadn’t already done more!) For whatever reason, I haven’t heard back from 27 titles yet. (They haven’t cast. Once an offer is accepted, all the hopefuls get a notice that they weren’t chosen.)

Of those 26 offers, only 4 have been royalty shares. The rest have all been an up front fee per completed hour.

How much have I made so far in 34 days?

I have collected $1150 and am under contract for another $225 at this moment.

If that doesn’t sound like much, well, it isn’t and it is at the same time. Almost all of the titles I have done have been short, 1-2 hours. (Those 23 Projects are probably about 30-35 hours of finished audio). Also most of the jobs I have taken are on the low end of the pay scale for this field, $50. Despite the low pay, I have accepted these jobs for a few reasons.

  • While I feel I’m good at this, I am still new, and feel I need to learn and pay my dues. I was prepared to do this on a lot of free Royalty Shares, so the option to be paid anything at all while I learn seems great to me.
  • I am very quick at this. I am as experienced with audio recording, mixing and editing as I am at acting. I still end up making more per work hour than my “day job” pays. (Although nowhere near as much per hour as my other audio production jobs.)
  • I have found that I truly enjoy this. It is a relaxing way to start off my day. So I would rather be reading something than nothing.
  • Most of these have been non-fiction. There isn’t as much time involved researching and planning character voices as fiction.

So can someone make money? Probably, yes.

There are many books that pay higher, over $100 pch even into the $200-400 range. There are many titles where ACX offers a stipend (currently $100 pch) AND you get royalty share on top of that. I have auditioned for many of those higher paying gigs. I haven’t gotten any of those yet. It could be I’m not good enough yet. Or it could be (and this I suspect more) that those titles are largely going to “Audible Approved” narrators. I am sure that those higher paying gigs are landing a TON of auditions. And I have to face it, if I was sitting with a pile of 50-100 auditions, I know I would listen to the “endorsed ones” first and trust them more.

Also, many of these titles I have done have been for Charles River Editors. They seem to be on a tear, adapting tons of their titles to audiobooks. I think they started just shortly before I auditioned, and I don’t know how deep their well of titles goes, or how long they will still be posting at this crazy rate. Without them, both my number of auditions and offers would be greatly down. (About 40 of my auditions are for them, and I have gotten 16)

The good news is there is a process. You can ask to be reviewed as a narrator, and they’ll look at your work and approve (or not.) I’m going to wait a little while to apply, but I hope with the amount of work I am doing and my other resume items, that I will be on their approved list before the end of summer. I’ll keep everyone updated.

Author: Michael