Audible ACX vs Soundwise
When determining where to publish audiobooks, most new authors unknowingly think that Audible ACX is the only choice to sell their audiobooks, without really understanding what they are doing to themselves. Authors should be seriously consider the cost and benefit of an audiobook publisher like Audible versus using Soundwise, which provides the technological tools to sell self-published audiobooks.
Audible is the world’s largest producer of spoken word entertainment and audiobooks. It has amassed a gigantic following which includes a subscription based model for it’s followers. Customers also have the option to purchase audiobooks without a subscription, but at much steeper prices. ACX is the self publishing branch of Audible, which allows authors to submit their own audiobooks and get listed on Audible and Amazon.
Soundwise is a software-as-a-service solution for authors, podcasters and educators to sell audio products directly to consumers. It provides independent creators the means to host and deliver their audiobooks securely, build their audience, control their own pricing, and allow listeners to listen on both mobile devices and desktop computers.
What differentiate Soundwise from a traditional audiobook publisher like Audible ACX? What are each platform’s selling point and business models? Let’s dive into the weeds and explore what makes each unique.
Audible makes money purely through their royalty model, i.e. they take a large share of the audiobook sales revenues. If the author doesn’t sell any books, then ACX doesn’t make any money. There are no upfront fees for authors to be a part of their platform.
Soundwise charges authors and content creators through a subscription model. Authors can pay a monthly or annual fee for using Soundwise to sell and deliver their audiobooks. On all the publishing tiers, authors can publish unlimited numbers of audiobooks.
Audible takes a hefty share of audiobook sales. It has three options for audiobook creation. Depending on which option the author chooses, it determines how much Audible takes from each sale. In the best case scenario, which involves an exclusivity contract that prevents authors from selling their books elsewhere, Audible lets authors keep 40% of their royalties. In the worst case scenario, authors only keep 20% of their royalties.
Under the Plus publisher plan, Soundwise charges 5% of the audiobook sales price as a transaction fee. This is compared with 60% of royalties being charged by Audible. In other words, authors keep 95% of their earnings per sale.
Under the Pro and Platinum membership plans, Soundwise doesn’t charge any fees. Authors keep 100% of their earnings per sale.
Audible sets the price of an author’s audiobooks depending on the length of the book. Authors have no control over the price of their audiobooks.
With Soundwise, authors can set their own price for their audiobooks and modify it at any time through discount or change the base price entirely.
Audible grants a limited number of free promo codes for authors to use when marketing their audiobooks. For example, they provide 50 for the United States audience and 50 for the United Kingdom audience. However, Audible doesn’t allow authors to create price promotions or discounts for their audiobooks.
Under any subscription plan, authors can give unlimited free access to members of their review team or whoever else they want. This comes as a part of your subscription to Soundwise. Authors can also create as many price promotion discounts as they desire at whatever percentage or amount off they want. Want to run a Labor Day sale? Authors can make a promotional code by naming it, assigning a code to it, and setting an expiration date and time. And it literally takes less than a minute to complete these tasks.
Authors can even create a promo code for each of their affiliates who help selling their audiobooks, and therefore turning Soundwise into an affiliate tracking system for their audiobooks.
With Audible, authors don’t know who bought their audiobooks. The dashboard only shows that a sale has been made within a certain time frame, usually a few business days.
Authors can see the sales on the Soundwise dashboard immediately. Authors receive the name and email address of every person who bought their audiobooks or signed up to get their free audiobooks, if the author has any available. This allows authors to build their own listener base and reach out to their audience later to collect reviews for their audiobooks, or when they have new releases available.
Not only that, but customers who buy an author’s audiobooks can have much more interaction with the author. Listeners can like and leave comments on the chapters, and the author can respond to the comments. In other words, they have the option to have a conversation with their audience and create an audience community, which strengthens listener loyalty.
Authors sign up for Audible ACX mainly to gain so-called “exposure”-- they hope that their audiobook will be easily discovered by new listeners once they’re listed on a big marketplace. The reality is a lot more complicated.
There are definitely a large number of listeners who subscribe to Audible. However, the competition is just as fierce. And your Audible product page will also list an abundance of titles from other authors, ready to catch the eye of a potential buyer. Audible doesn’t help in the production costs of an audiobook or aid in the marketing efforts. The search engine of Audible may help a bit in the discovery of new audiobooks, but at the end of the day, self-published authors still need to drive the majority of the sales themselves if they want to make any meaningful amount of money from their audiobooks.
In contrast, Soundwise gives authors plenty of freedom and the tools to be fully in control of their audiobook’s destiny. The fact that there is little to none profit sharing ensures that you reap all the benefits of your hard marketing work yourself. The Soundwise mobile and web apps are designed to be as close to the author’s own shop as possible.
Which platform would be more suitable to you depends on what your publishing goals are. If you’re just creating audiobooks as a hobby, or do not plan to invest any time or energy in marketing your own books, then Audible ACX would be a good choice, because they do not charge any upfront fee. But if you’re serious about your audiobooks as a meaningful source of income, want to build an audience that you own, and are willing to spend time and money to promote and market your own work, then Soundwise would be an better option.