Episode # 32 – Create an Audiobook with Simon Whistler and Leeland Artra

In Audiobooks, Business by Simon Whistler4 Comments

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This interview is something a bit different. Back in episode 17, Leeland Artra came on the show and during a chat we had after the show he said “Hey Simon, you should get someone to come onto the show and interview you! Tell your story!” To that I said, “Alright Leeland, you do it!” So a couple of months down the line we did. We also talk how to create audiobook, the various options open to you, and how much they all cost.



Twitter: @RSPcast


Fantasy and Science Fiction Network – Leeland’s network for fantasy and sci-fi authors.

ACX.com – The Audiobook Creation Exchange, the one-stop-shop to create audiobook.

Audible.com – The main retailer of audiobooks.

RadioLab podcast – Create podcast.

Leeland Artra – Today’s host and author (the link is to his Amazon author page)

Garage Band – An application for Apple where you can compose music.

Pond5 and AudioJungle

Audacity – Free audio editing software.

Librivox – Free audiobooks and great free tutorials on setting up yourself

BrickShopAudio – Leeland’s audiobook production company (an expensive but professional way to create audiobook).

Show notes:

Correction – I realize there could be a bit of confusion in this episode as we mention the problem of some US states restricting royalty income (from book sales) what we actually meant to say was affiliate income (from the Amazon affiliate program). This was brought to my attention by listener Tom Buford (thanks Tom!) With his permission I am including the email he sent detailing the correction situation:

I heard something in that interview that I thought I should write to you about. I know that you are not in the U.S., and are therefore unfamiliar with some things on this side of the ocean. In the interview, the man who was interviewing you mentioned that apparently some states had laws that kept people from earning royalties. That actually is not correct. Maybe this will explain what I think he had in mind, but that was misrepresented in the interview.

Among its many businesses and programs, Amazon has two programs that are related to the comment in question. 

1) The Amazon KDP program.

2) The Amazon Associates program.

As we know the KDP program is the ebook publishing platform. The Amazon Associates program is an affiliate program through which you can place links to products on Amazon’s website, and if a person visits your site, clicks on those links, and follows through with a purchase, you get a small percentage of the sale amount. In fact, you get a percentage of the sale even if the person clicks through and purchases a dozen different items that unrelated to the item he or she originally clicked on. I do not know if the Associates program is available to people who live outside the U.S.

The confusion relates to the interviewer’s insinuation that in North Carolina (and some other states) people cannot earn royalties. That is false. A person can earn royalties in any state in the United States. That includes royalties on Kindle books. The hiccup comes in when a person with a Kindle book wishes to sell that book through the Amazon Associates program and earn a few more cents per book by having her book links pass through the Associates program. Amazon does allow authors to use Amazon Associates links to sell their own books on their own website. BUT, there are some states in which Amazon does not make the Associates program available. This is because of the individual states’ sales tax laws. Some states tried to force Amazon to charge sales tax if it had a presence in the state. Some of those states considered members of the Associates program to be “a presence.” In response to such rulings, Amazon cancelled the Associates program for people who lived in those states that tried to force them to charge sales tax, but where Amazon did not also have warehouses, offices, etc.. Those are the people your interviewer was talking about. Those people absolutely can put books up on Amazon Kindle and earn royalties all day long. But if they live in one of the states in which the Associates program was cancelled, they cannot be members of the Associates program and therefore able to earn that few extra cents per sale by linking to their book through Associates links.

In my state, Amazon has warehouses and other facilities. I have an Associate’s account and a KDP account. I can, and do, link to my book through the Associate’s program links provided by Amazon. I can earn the royalty percentage, plus a few cents extra through the Associates link.


Started narrating audiobooks a few years ago through an agent. Did a few books, took a break to finish my degree, did some travelling, came back to it when self publishing was becoming a thing. Started emailing authors who might want to create audiobook.

Audiobook Outlets

The vast majority of audiobook are sold through Audible and iTunes. They offer an exclusive deal and you will sell the vast majority thorugh them anyway, so totally worth doing.


An Amazon company – the Audiobook Creation Exchange. They connect narrators with authors to create audiobooks – either on a paid upfront basis or a royalty share basis.
They give you 50% if you go exclusive with Audible/iTunes, 25% if you go nonexclusive. You get an extra 1% for every 500 audiobooks you sell up to 90% – that is a lot of audiobooks you have to sell.

ACX for Non-Americans

I am not a US citizen and therefore didn’t have the social security number and US address needed to register. I managed to get into ACX by establishing an LLC in the US, which gave me everything I needed.

Leeland’s Audiobook

Leeland originally went through ACX and had people audition but he quickly realised that his book had so many perspectives that it was going to make sense to just have multiple narrators, something not supported through ACX, where they just match authors up with one narrator.

One company had several narrators audition – Brickshop Audio. Leeland sent them an email asking whether they would be able to do the job with several of the narrators who auditioned. They agreed to do this and Brickshop Audio would become his ‘single’ narrator – essentially bringing the narrators together for him.

You are allowed to negotiate outside of ACX and organize deals that way. Just be careful to establish legal protections of your own if you are not relying on ACX to do it.

Royalty Share

ACX offer two payment options, one of which is royalty share. This means that you don’t have to pay up front for the production of your book, but you have to give half of the royalties to the narrator for 7 years.

Paying Upfront

You pay for the book upfront on a per finished hour basis. This price can vary enormously depending on the narrator.


Leave a comment below or get in touch with Simon by email at simon@rockingselfpublishing.com

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Simon WhistlerEpisode # 32 – Create an Audiobook with Simon Whistler and Leeland Artra
  • R.M. Prioleau

    This was a great show, Simon! It was great hearing you talk about audiobooks and the legalities that go with it. We should have the mic turned on you more often! 🙂

    • SimonRSP

      Thanks RM! It was fun/weird to be on the other sides of things, but something that will happen again I’m sure!

  • Michelle Weidenbenner

    Hi Simon –

    Leeland recommended your podcast several times to me, so I’ve been here before. But today he shared this one with me because I’ve had difficulty with my ACX experience. I’m listening to it now and hoping I’ll get answers to a few questions.

    If not, I’ll send you a note. Thanks for posting this.

    • SimonRSP

      Hi Michelle, I hope it is helpful and do feel free to send any follow up questions my way :).