While getting self-published ebooks into the Kindle Unlimited (KU) ebook subscription service is as simple as going exclusive with Amazon and ticking the enroll box, getting indie audiobooks into the Audible audiobook subscription service is a little more challenging.
First off, the subscription service is only for romance genre audiobooks. If we can meet that criteria we can hit the enroll button on the ACX page, but that doesn’t mean we are in.

While it’s our goal to include as many ACX audiobooks as possible, enrollment in this program does not guarantee your audiobook will be available to subscribers. Final decisions about which audiobooks will be included are made by Audible editors. Books will be reviewed monthly for consideration, and you will be notified by email when your audiobook is available to listeners, typically around the 15th of each month. If your audiobook is not included in that month’s collection, your audiobook will automatically be considered for the following month’s review.

The good news is, once in, it stays in.

Once your audiobook is available to subscribers, it will remain in the program through the end of your ACX distribution contract.

With KU, authors famously get paid an amount they only are told of after the event, as Amazon decides how much to put into the pot that will be shared out among participating authors, based on the number of pages read. It’s not that different for indie authors in the romance audiobooks subscription service.

Earnings will be determined by how long members listened to your audiobook using on a shared revenue model based on total minutes listened per month.

Unlike in KU, where the payout is monthly, romance subscription audiobook earnings will be paid quarterly, commencing February 2018.

The full details are on the “Catalog Subscription Service Agreement” page  where it becomes clear the romance catalogue is just the first of many to come.

Audible, Inc. (“Audible”) offers services that provide subscribers access to listen to specified catalogs of digital audio products (each, a “Catalog Subscription Service”).

How much will authors actually earn?

This is where its gets messy. Even messier than the KU payout.

Basically authors will get the “applicable percentage of all Catalog Subscription Service Receipts”.

That is to say the minutes listened to percentage of the main ACX payout. That main payout being 25% for non-exclusive titles, 40% for exclusive titles with no author-narrator-producer royalty share, and 20% for royalty-share titles.

As to what the payout will mean in real money… Audible has a calculation procedure designed to ensure we are none the wiser.

“Catalog Subscription Service Receipts” means the number calculated by multiplying the aggregate number of minutes of your Digital Audio Products listened to by members of a Catalog Subscription Service by a fraction, the numerator of which is Net Receipts for that Catalog Subscription Service, and the denominator is the aggregate number of minutes of all digital audio products consumed by members of that Catalog Subscription Service.

Net receipts?

“Net Receipts” means amounts actually received by Audible, less previously unaccounted returns, exchanges, refunds, bad debt, promotional discounts or rebates, and any applicable, duties and sales, use, VAT, excise, consumption or similar taxes. If amounts received by Audible represent payment for multiple services or multiple catalogs of content of an Audible Service, in calculating Net Receipts, Audible will allocate Net Receipts among the individual services or catalogs.

And unlike with KU, Audible will only payout once a $50 threshold is reached.

So while offering romance listeners a potentially good deal – unlike in KU titles will be vetted and poor quality titles that got through the first ACX vetting round will be scrutinised again – for authors the benefits are debatable.

As with KU, this may prove for many to be a royalty cut in real terms. compared to a standard ACX sale, and the threshold and quarterly payout are all designed to keep consumer-paid cash with Amazon for longer.

Coming hard on the heels of the decision to close the higher-paying CreateSpace e-store- a royalty cut for many POD authors – indies will be wondering, what next?