As an audiobook fan, you have your three or four different audiobook subscriptions, and you want your favorite author’s or narrator’s newest audiobook. And now you might wonder… what is the best way to get this audiobook? Is it okay to borrow it through Hoopla, or is it better for the author to buy the Amazon Whispersync deal?
Penny Reid was so kind to give me a look behind the scenes and share with me some info on how authors are paid for audiobooks. And we can give you the ultimate answers on how to best support your favorite author!
**The marked links and book covers on this page are affiliate links. If you use them to purchase something, I earn a fee at no additional cost for you. Disclosure**
The Most Important Rule to support Authors
It might sound simple, but if you want your beloved authors to keep writing, you should in some shape or form pay for their work. Whether you get a library card or a Scribd subscription or buy every audiobook for the full price on LibroFM, these are all ways audiobook creators earn money.
But if you listen to an audiobook on YouTube or download it through BitTorrent, you have pirated it – stolen it – and the author will not get paid.
Please don’t pirate!
Free audiobooks are definitely a thing. But whenever you are offered free audiobooks without a paid subscription or library card, you should double-check that it is approved by the author and narrator!
You can take a look at my list of websites with free audiobooks to find reliable sources. But please don’t listen to indie or traditionally published audiobooks on YouTube, through Torrents, or websites that look somehow fishy!
Also, please be aware that, when you finish an audiobook that you bought with an Audible credit and then return it, the author might not receive royalties from Audible! It’s as if you go into a bookstore, buy a book, read it at home, and then return it.
When you borrow an Audible Plus book, everything is fine. But when you buy something with an Audible credit and you enjoy the audiobook reasonably much, you should keep it, so the author gets paid fairly for their work. You can read more about it in my blog post on what you need to know before returning a book on Audible.
How do Authors get paid for Audiobooks?
Let’s delve deeper. How do authors get paid for audiobooks? Depending on the platform, authors get paid royalties either for you purchasing the audiobook, for downloading it, or per minute you listened.
Every platform handles this a bit differently. But most of them pay authors either 25% or 40% of what the listener paid for the audiobook. If it’s an unlimited subscription, there is usually a pot that is divided among the authors whose books have been downloaded.
Indie authors and publishers have the option of making their audiobooks exclusive to Audible. That’s why many audiobooks have that yellow banner in the lower right corner.
These marked audiobooks are sometimes produced by Audible itself, through Audible Studios or Audible Originals, or authors used Audible’s ACX platform to create their audiobook.
ACX helps authors to connect with narrators and they can even choose a royalty share model with which new authors and new narrators can take chances on one another to make a name for themself.
Related article: Why are audiobooks so expensive?
If an audiobook is Audible-exclusive, the author receives 40% royalties (or 20% for the author and 20% for the narrator). If the author wants to publish the audiobook on more platforms, they only receive 25% royalties for any Audible sale.
Now, to get into actual numbers, were you to pay full price for an audiobook on Audible, the author would earn more money than when you pay $7.49 for a Whispersync deal. But if paying full price means your budget only allows you to purchase one audiobook instead of three, you should consider getting those deals.
For authors and publishers, there is also the consideration of whether they prefer to sell less books for more money, or more books for less money.
Audible is by far the market leader, and Penny Reid told me that they have done and are doing a lot for independent authors, but since they are also part of a huge corporation, Amazon, the bottom line is what matters.
Not every decision Audible makes is necessarily the best for authors and publishers. We have seen that in the past with their decision not to pay any royalties to authors whose audiobooks were returned, while heavily promoting the returns policy to customers (this has since been partially changed after a huge outcry by authors). And we are seeing it now with Audible lowering the prices on all audiobooks and not reacting to calls to adjust their royalty payments to the market average.
On Audible and Amazon, authors and publishers have no influence on the price. Audible decides how much an audiobook is worth, when/if there will be a discount, and how high that will be. Amazon also decides whether or not an audiobook is suitable to be Whispersynced. The author only has indirect influence on this.
If an audiobook is significantly different from the ebook, it can’t be whispersynced. But the author can’t choose to have an audiobook synced without offering the cheap Whispersync deal.
If a self-published author or publisher decides to publish their audiobook on all platforms instead of Audible-exclusive, they often go through the platform Findaway Voices, like Penny Reid and many other indie authors.
Here, the audiobook publishers have more options to decide the price for their audiobook. They can also control promotions and sales. And they can add their audiobook to library apps like Libby and Hoopla!
Through Findaway Voices, authors can choose if and how they want to publish library copies. If they want their audiobook to be available in library apps, they can choose a pricing structure and might either opt to be paid per download (e.g. $2) or sell a high-priced library copy that can be downloaded a certain number of times. The audiobook publisher or indie author has full control here.
So you can be sure that authors fully approve when you get their audiobook through your library and will be paid!
Stores that Pay Higher Royalties
While you can generally assume that royalties are about the same everywhere and as long as you legally obtain your audiobook, everything is well, Penny Reid did mention two stores in particular for their high royalties and author-friendliness.
Authors Direct The first one is Authors Direct, Findaway Voices’ storefront. Since it pays 70% royalties, authors can offer their audiobooks at very low prices here and still earn more than they would with Audible copies. Some authors also offer free content here (check out Penny Reid’s page for Winston freebies) or give away audiobook codes. Authors Direct is available in the U.S., EU, UK, Australia, and Canada! Unfortunately, the store isn’t all that browsing-friendly. But you can search for a genre, an author name, or book title. You can see here when you search for the term “Romance” over 900 audiobooks show up and you could specify your search further, like “Dark Romance”, “Paranormal Romance”, and so on.
Update: After Findaway Voices has been purchased by Spotify, Authors Direct is now being closed. I will update this article in time with other audiobook stores that offer higher royalties!
The second noteworthy mention is Kobo**. I have only used them a few times myself and was not aware this store was anything special before my chat with Penny.
She told me that Kobo pays relatively high royalties and offers great author services. So, this seems to be a store worth exploring as well!
So, what can you do?
To sum it up, as long as you obtain an audiobook legally, everything is good and you are supporting your favorite authors and audiobook creators to the best of your abilities! Authors are being paid for library copies and for audiobooks in subscriptions like Scribd.
That being said, if you want to go the extra mile, do check out Authors Direct, since these platforms pay authors more! If you can buy an audiobook for $7.50 on Amazon or on Authors Direct, the latter is definitely the better choice for the author you want to support.
You can also consider supporting your favorite authors by buying the print or ebook version of your favorite book since royalties for these are usually higher.
And remember, authors love reviews! So, if money is tight but you want to do a little bit, write a review on GoodReads, Amazon or Audible. You can write a helpful audiobook review in as little as 3 minutes.
Or recommend the book to a friend! You wouldn’t believe how many books I have bought just because someone tweeted about them or mentioned them in a Facebook or Reddit topic 🙂All about Audiobooks
2 thoughts on “How to Best Support your Favorite Audiobook Creators”
Fantastic info!! Thank you. My tiktok acct is all about audiobooks and people ask me about this all the time.
Thank you 🙂 Do you want to share your TikTok link here?