Do you think you can make a good audiobook narrator and want to get paid for your talent? This ACX review might be the kickstarter you’re looking for.
This review will explain what ACX is, how you can get started, and answer the two most important questions: is ACX legit, and is ACX worth it?
Let’s dive in.
What is ACX?
The definition of ACX depends on the angle you’re viewing it from. If you’re an author, it is an audiobook narration, production, and distribution service. If you’re a narrator, it’s a platform that pays you to offer audiobook narration services.
You can be an author and a narrator at the same time as well. ACX simply looks to help clients get the narration they need and not the one the platform deems right for them.
Despite not having built-in recording and editing software, ACX is still one of the most popular services out there. It lets narrators record audio how they know best and only gets involved in ensuring the quality meets the client’s minimums.
This is made possible by Audio Lab, a feature I will break down later in the article.
Who Owns ACX
Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) is owned and operated by the Amazon subsidiary, Audible Inc. It was launched in 2011 and, as you would expect of an Amazon company, has grown to become one of the leading lights in the audiobook production market.
Despite all the evolution, ACX’s initial goal remains: to serve as a nexus for professional authors, book rights holders, publishers, and narrators.
Is ACX Legit?
ACX is a legit audiobook production platform with legit paid opportunities for voice actors. It’s been in the game for at least a decade and has paid out hundreds of millions of dollars to narrators and authors.
Whether or not you can find work on the platform is another question altogether, but as far as legitimacy is concerned, ACX is not a scam.
One way you can tell whether a platform is a scam or not is by looking at the age of its domain. ACX has been around since 2011 and has only grown tremendously over the years, something you wouldn’t expect of a scam site.
Besides, it is owned by Amazon, who you would think wouldn’t want to ruin the reputation of their brand with an audiobook production scam site.
Why the 1.7-star rating on Trustpilot, then? Well, because the ratings come from both authors and narrators. We can’t be sure it’s the freelancers grumbling.
Also, there is more than legitimacy to consider when rating a site like ACX. Customer service, workflow, pay rates, and misunderstandings are all factors. We shall talk more about this in the Reviews & Complaints section.
Can You Really Make Money Using ACX?
ACX does what it says in its marketing content: paying narrators for their services. But what is the chance you will find a job in the first place?
Mind you, this is a traditional freelance platform with loads of freelancers and oftentimes not enough work for all of them.
Here is a simple, straightforward answer to your question: yes, you can make money on ACX, a lot of it if you are experienced.
Some authors pay up to $1,000 per finished hour (PFH). Considering it would take you around 8 hours to do a finished hour, that rate translates to over $120 per work hour.
Projects pay in two ways: through fixed pricing and through royalties. Fixed pricing is as in the example above; you receive a one-time payment upon completion, submission, and approval of an audiobook.
The Royalty Share Plus option pays you a fixed amount as well as 20% of revenue from each sale.
There is no telling which one is better. But obviously, an audiobook that sells more copies pays better in royalty shares.
Averagely, ACX narrators earn $15 per hour. You can make way more or less, depending on your speed and the clients you attract.
The Royalty Share Plus compensation option will pay less per hour, but the cumulative royalties could easily surpass the fixed payment in the long run.
Note that ACX doesn’t control pricing whatsoever. So a low pay rate won’t always translate to easier work. What I know, though, is that client expectations are higher when they pay more.
How ACX Works
ACX is quite simply a platform for authors trying to convert their text-based books into audiobooks. The client posts their book after confirming rights ownership and attaches a payment method and the pay rate in the description.
Narrators audition, and the lucky one gets picked for the work. For the record, there is no room for rate negotiation afterward. So it’s best that you audition knowing magic won’t happen mid-project.
How to Join ACX
Joining ACX is simple. Head to the ACX homepage and click on Sign Up Now at the top right corner of your screen.
You will be taken to the Amazon website and asked to create an Amazon Account. In essence, if you have an Amazon account, you will simply need to sign in.
Next, you will be required to customize your profile on a page in the ACX domain. Here, you will specify whether you are an author, a narrator, studio professional, agent, or publisher. You will also be asked to provide residency details.
For now, ACX is only open to residents of the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Canada, so your mailing address, banking details, and Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) better show that you’re from one of those countries.
If you have a SAG-AFTRA ID, enter it. It will be your selling point before you make a name for yourself, at least.
Once you click Save at the bottom of the page, a continuation of the registration form will open. You will provide the following additional details:
- Your professional summary, or bio
- Your gender
- Your preferred book genres from 20+ options
- Your acting and production credits, if any
- Awards received, if any
- A link to your website, if you have one
If you are only getting started with voice acting, consider selecting Any in the Genres section. The About, Credits, Awards & Recognition, and Website sections are optional.
Lastly, upload a few mp3 samples and choose your preferred payment method. Now you’re an ACX narrator, and your dashboard should look like this:
How to Find Work on ACX
At the time of writing this ACX review, there were 1,337 titles accepting auditions. You could browse the titles manually or filter them by type (fiction or non-fiction), language (English, French, German, or Spanish), accent, vocal style, voice age, project length, and project status.
Once you find a title you think you can handle, click on it. You will see its estimated length, its payment category, word count, and language on the new page. There is also a link to upload your audition or send a message to the author.
A feature I found really insightful is the Amazon rating of the book in question, which you can use to determine if a title in the Royalty Share budget is worth narrating. Why do I say this? Some books are mediocre and will likely not perform well in the market.
ACX Production Resources
ACX has four important resources for narrators, otherwise known as producers:
- The ACX Audio Lab. This, according to ACX, helps you ensure your sound meets the platform’s submission requirements of peak levels, bitrate, bitrate method, RMS, duplicate files, spacing, and sample rate.
- A submission guideline
- An audio terminology glossary
- Video lessons
With these resources, you can start your ACX narration career without prior experience.
ACX Payment Options
ACX doesn’t pay its narrators and producers directly. It is the rights holders and authors who do it, which begs the question: can I not get scammed?
There is no ruling out that possibility, but it doesn’t happen often. Amazon can only publish your audiobook if you confirm to have been paid in full.
If the rights holder takes to the hills before paying you, they will not be able to sell the audiobook on iTunes, Audible, and Amazon. That will indirectly set them back more money than if they paid you for your services.
So, nine times out of ten, the clients are legit and will pay you if they like your work. Make sure to discuss your preferred payment method with them at the beginning of the project. Your options are check, credit card, and electronic payment.
As regards royalties, Audible will pay the rights holder and the narrator separately. A withdrawal threshold of $50 is in place if you choose to receive your payment by check.
If you go the direct deposit route, on the other hand, you will receive monthly royalty payments no matter how much you make.
Reviews and Complaints
We are finally here. Why the 1.7* rating on Trustpilot? Here’s what the most disgruntled reviewers had to say:
This is from an author as is the following one:
For some reason, the bulk of the negative reviews and ratings came from authors. Someone even noted that ACX didn’t care for authors as much as it did narrators.
The complaints from narrators were not pointed towards a single or a set of concerns.
Misguided account closure is very common among freelance platforms, particularly those that limit access by geography. I have been on the receiving end several times myself and know exactly how that feels.
Our fear has been confirmed! The author can actually sell an audiobook that you narrated without paying you.
While the above reviewer wrongly blames ACX instead of the rights holder for not paying them, the platform should be held accountable for making that possible.
Working with ACX is not all gloom, though. Some narrators clearly love the platform and would recommend it to others.
It seems to be a matter of individual preference, meaning you may have to use the platform to know if you like it or not.
What I Like About ACX
- It is free to join and accepts narrators without prior voice acting experience
- It has some well-paying jobs
- It provides a level playing field to narrators of all experience levels
- Authors can narrate their own books
- It has a sufficient menu list
- It has an on-site quality checker
- No experience needed
- There is always something to audition for
- It has fixed payment and royalty payment options
- You can choose any payment option for fixed payments
What I Don’t Like About ACX
- Competition from over 1 million producers
- The need to have a separate professional recording software, which will potentially need paying for
- It is not available to people outside the UK, Ireland, the US, and Canada
- ACX doesn’t offer escrow services
- The platform has a poor user interface
Is ACX Worth It?
ACX is worth it if you are talented, have the time to audition for each title separately, and don’t mind making around $15 per hour. It is not worth it if you prefer direct assignments or simply don’t have the time to audition for everything. Also, if you don’t fancy being paid in royalties, that is the mode of payment for most of the titles.
As stated earlier, though, ACX seems like the site you have to try out to judge. Going by what past and present users have to say, it is both a good and bad platform for narrators, and your innate optimism or pessimism will probably guide your decision.
ACX Review: Final Thoughts
ACX may not be the perfect package, but it is definitely legit and worth trying if you don’t have a better option elsewhere.
Let me know in the comments what you think about it and whether you reckon the upsides outweigh the downsides.