When To Make An Exception to the “Never Audition for Royalty Share Books” Rule

Hey there!

On ACX, you can get paid one of three ways to record an audiobook: a certain amount per finished hour (PFH), on a royalty share basis, or, in the best of all deals, a stipend book.

That’s an audiobook job that not only pays you a great rate per finished hour, but then sweetens the pot with the royalty share for every copy sold, funded by the rights holder. So it’s like a combo deal.

Problem is, ACX has discontinued that type of project. At least for now. And most royalty share book projects aren’t strong enough sellers that you’d make money with them.

But there is one case where I’d suggest you seriously consider a royalty share only book.

Here’s that case.

I advise my students and clients to concentrate on auditioning for, and booking, jobs that are royalty share, and can be turned into hybrid stipend jobs. They guarantee you income even if the book doesn’t sell well.

My client, Shelley, wrote me and asked:


I just got approached by an author of a book with [an] impressive amazon rating but it’s NOT [a stipend job].

I’ve been pretty adamant about only accepting stipend books, as you suggest.

But what is your thought on this one?

Hope you’re well:)

Love, Shelley

And she copied and pasted the area of the book’s description on the ACX project page that said this:

Book two in the NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling series
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#7 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult
#9 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Coming of Age
#9 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Coming of Age

Well, OK then.

I advise you not to take on royalty share only books unless you do your homework on the author’s sales. You don’t want to do all that work, only to get a few paltry dollars in royalties. Of course, if you’re still learning, take any book you can get so you get the experience.

But this one’s an exception.

This one’s an NYT and USA TODAY best seller – real ones, not purchased ones (where the publisher pays a couple of hundred thousand dollars to buy their own books to jump onto the best-seller list). These are amazing ranking numbers, especially #7 in Teen & Young Adult. And if a book is selling this well, then you have a much better chance of making some serious coin on the sales of the audiobook.

So, if the book is in the top 10% in its categories, it may be worth taking on. And if a book is in the top ten numerically, it’s a green light for me.

And you should still offer the RH a hybrid stipend deal. We talk about this in detail in our ACX classes – it’s essentially an RH-funded stipend of $100+ per finished hour, in addition to the royalty share that the RH would offer through ACX.

You’d make this deal separately with the author, via email. And you’d do so at a point depending upon their contact with you – if they asked you to audition (or gave you an offer), reply back with your gentle counteroffer, the hybrid stipend. If you’re auditioning for them, make the counteroffer not when you audition in your notes, but when they make you an offer. Terms are usually 50% down, 50% when the I’m Finished button is about to be pressed, or Headed to Retail is achieved.

You can always accept a pure Royalty Share deal as a fall back – but remember to do your homework on the title and the Rights Holder!

Grab our ACX classes to instantly learn more and do a deep dive into mastering ACX:

Mastering ACX – Part 1
Mastering ACX – Part 2
Recording for ACX With Audacity – Part 1
Recording for ACX With Audacity – Part 2

Hope this helps.


6 Responses to When To Make An Exception to the “Never Audition for Royalty Share Books” Rule

  1. marlon braccia March 29, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

    Great timing on this post! I just emailed a rights holder via ACX about their book yesterday, which has exceptional indicators of top on Kindle sales and a history of good sales on the author’s other titles. My email expressed interest in auditioning, but requested info on why no producer has been assigned int he 6 months its been listed. It’s my attempt to find out if they want something specific they’re just not finding yet or if no one minding the store!

  2. Nathan Agin June 27, 2016 at 6:30 am #

    As ACX has auditions set up in either Royalty Share or PFH, how do you approach an author with a hybrid stipend offer? Do you submit the audition and mention it in the notes? Thanks!

    • Nathan Agin July 3, 2016 at 8:32 am #

      Thanks for expanding the post above to include this answer – very helpful, David!

  3. Arnold March 8, 2018 at 6:20 am #

    Ahhh! The audiobook I’m currently working on was listed as royalty share. I wish I had seen this post prior to auditioning for it. I just finished mastering chapter 1, and I think it’s too late to bring up the stipend option. Sigh.

  4. Marlon Braccia March 8, 2018 at 9:57 am #

    Great post. I had wondered if ACX was going to do any more stipend jobs, because I sure have not found any in my searches in a long time.
    Your advice of when to ask for the hybrid deal is truly helpful. I’d wondered when was best. What you say makes sense. because after they have offered you the book, they’re already in love with the idea of your voice for it. If it’s mentioned before the audition, I suspect they’d be simply on to the next “auditioner.”

Leave a Reply