Royalty Share books on ACX are a complete crap-shoot in terms of investment. You are risking hours and hours of your time on a product that may or may not sell well (or at all). While you can never really know how an audiobook will perform, there are some clues to look out for.
We’re going to break down the ACX listing and Amazon info to help find our diamond in the rough. This is your first look at the book and a pretty good indicator of whether or not the author knows what they are doing.
We’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but customers do this all the time. Does the cover look professional? Does it appeal to you? Remember, this is the first thing a potential listener is going to see. Does it work? Does it convey professionalism? Is it appealing?
If one is missing, don’t rule it out immediately, check out the book on Amazon to see what the cover looks like over there. I’ve found a few instances of authors being behind in their schedule due to artist issues or an inexperience dealing with image cropping/resizing.
And speaking of Amazon…
Amazon Sales Rank
This can be tricky. It’s a number. But what is the context? Well, remember Amazon sells millions of products, so this number can get pretty big. If it’s a really good selling product, it will have a sales rank under 100,000 (or so). A sales rank of zero indicated the book has sold no copies at all.
This is a threshold number you’ll need to define for yourself, but it’s important to know what this number means. The lower the number, the better it is selling.
You can jump over to the Amazon page for the book from the ACX listing and be sure to do so. If the book has been out for any length of time, you should have some reader reviews to go on. Be sure to note who is writing the reviews. Authors often get friends and family to write glowing 5-star reviews for their book. If there are no reviews and it’s been out awhile, that tells you the book probably isn’t selling well. You can also check out reader reviews on other sites like Goodreads.com.
This is your first look at the book. Really look at it. Does it sound like a well-written book? Does it contain typos and grammar errors. If so, that’s your cue to get out now. If the author hasn’t spent the time to proof and edit the book, they certainly aren’t taking their craft seriously. They are not professional writers and are not worth your time.
This is a huge red flag. ACX does precisely zero quality control on the books that get added the their system. In their mind, more is always better. If a book is missing its audition script or description, my suggestion is to walk away. If you’re are still intrigued, you can contact the author, but I advise against it. If you reach out to the author and get no response: Run, don’t walk, away from this book.
Keep this in mind: There are plenty of other books out there.
Is the genre overloaded with authors? If so, watch out. One of the best ways to gain visibility for the book is when it’s a “New Release” on Audible. People are lazy and they are not inclined to do a lot of digging for a new author. The more time a book can spend on the New Release section of Audible, the better chance it has to get noticed.
I’ve done a few M/M books through ACX. They don’t have mainstream appeal, but there aren’t a lot of books in the genre. Some of the titles have stayed on the new release list for three weeks. Plus they are more likely to end up on the bestseller list of that genre as well, due to less competition.
I’ve also done a vampire book. Well written and edited, but it vanished from the New Release section in three days. That’s it. There and gone, because everyone and their mother is writing vampire fiction (technically it falls into Paranormal Fiction, which is an even bigger pool).
Sometimes the smaller niche will sell better than the big one. Keep that in mind.
What I mean is how current is the information. Topics dealing with technology (the Internet, Social Media, etc) and travel will go out-of-date within a year or so. The same can also apply to fiction. If the topic is something that is hot now, but may cool quickly, it may not be the best choice for Royalty Share.
You’re recording a book and counting on the royalties for the next several years. If the book is useless after a short period of time, you can kiss any future book sales good-bye. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.
This one’s a no-brainer.
If it has a stipend (and you match what the author is asking for), go for it. A stipend greatly minimizes your risk and it means that the minds at Amazon/ACX have reviewed the book and think it will sell enough to recoup their investment in it.
That’s gold, people.
Listen to ACX
ACX itself has tips on what won’t make a good audiobook. These include:
- Reference books, guide books, quotation books, and dictionaries
- Books about home and garden, interior design, home organization, or storage
- Children’s picture books or board books
- Gift books or quirky titles
- Cookbooks and diet books
- Comic books and graphic novels
- Photography books or art monographs
- Engineering or other professional reference books
- Flashcards, calendars, and box sets
- Sports books (especially ones that rely heavily on pictures)
- Travel guides (especially ones that read as reference guides)
- Any book that relies heavily on visual elements that are referred to throughout the text (e.g. many business, science, astrology and fitness books)