Do Authors Make Money On Audible? (Numbers & Facts)

Audible is not only a great way enjoy to a new book but also to discover a new favorite author. Most book enthusiasts are very loyal to their most beloved authors and look forward to each new title launch.

But, when it comes to book streaming services like Audible, how exactly do authors make their money? Without hard copy book sales, is it still profitable to be an author in the digital era? Here is what we learned.

Here Is How Authors Make Money On Audible:

In order to make a profit from their book downloads on Audible, authors have to negotiate a royalty price which will be a specific set price per download. Along with downloads, Authors can also make money by promoting Audible through a personalized link.

Smart Phone lays on table top with Audible App Library open on screen

How Much do You Make on Audible As an Author?

In order to make money on Audible, authors must first decide which royalty plan they want to explore.

We will get into the specifics of this royalty program a little later, but how much can an author expect to make in general through Audible?

On average, authors make anywhere from 25%-40% of the book cover price per download. So, if the audiobook retails for $10, the author can expect to make $2-$4 per book download.

While this may not seem like a lot, you have to take into account the actual amount of downloads and listens each book receives.

Popular titles can get tens of thousands of purchases which means the author, on average, could be making as much as $40,000 per book launch.

Check out our article about how much Audible books cost!

Does Audible Actually Pay You?

Audible does pay their content creators with actual money and not through rewards or a point program.

However, in order to get paid on Audible as an author, there are a few steps that have to be followed first.

Once registered as an author on Audible, you can start earning money through commissions and sponsored links.

A big way to make money on Audible is to get new people to subscribe to the service through a link that is personalized for you. The more referrals and downloads you get, the more money you can make.

However, Audible only lets authors withdraw this money once it reaches a certain amount. Once you have accumulated at least $30, you can start transferring funds directly into your bank account.

How Much do the Biggest Authors Make?

Smaller authors and content creators won’t make as much by releasing their books on Audible as bigger names would.

You can see which authors, as well as narrators, are trending on Audible by checking its “Best-Selling Audiobook” section right from the Audible app.

But, how much do these top-selling authors actually make on a payment platform like Audible?

Bigger authors make, on average, anywhere from $40,000 to $80,000 a year on Audible downloads alone. This doesn’t include their regular book sales through other retailers or paid appearances. 

However, the percentage of people pulling in this kind of money is pretty small.

The highest-paid authors on Audible only make up about 5% of the authors on the platform. In fact, over 75% of authors on Audible only pull in around $500-$750 a year.

It’s also worth remembering that if an author has used a publishing company, there are fees involved here too. 

What Does the Earning Structure Look Like for Audible Authors?

The money you will make on Audible as an author depends on the type of contract you choose to sign.

Right now, Audible has two different royalty options for authors.

The first option is to work exclusively with Audible as a book streaming service. This means that authors will not be able to sign content up on any other streaming platform like Apple Music.

If you choose this exclusive route, you, as the author, will receive 40% of royalties for your book downloads. This means that Audible takes 60% of sales.

If authors don’t want Audible to have exclusive royalties and rights to their content, they can choose the smaller deal, which only gives 25% of sales.

While this is the smaller pay scale that Audible offers, it does allow you, as an author, to have more control of your content, meaning that you can add your titles to other streaming services. This allows you to reach a wider audience which can increase your pay scale as an author.

Do All Authors Make the Same Per Download with Audible?

When it comes to making money on Audible as an author, not all pay scales are created equal.

First, there is the royalty program. Authors who choose to stream their books on Audible exclusively make almost double what the authors who choose to use other platforms. 

All Authors have to choose between the two royalty options mentioned earlier, so in theory, all authors have the ability to make the same amount of money. With Audible, there is no “tier payment,” and it all depends on how many titles are purchased.

However, there are some things that Audible does to ensure that some authors make more money than others.

Popular authors work with an agent who will secure the specific deal with Audible. The more popular the author, the more perks they will receive. This is especially true when it comes to promotion.

Bigger names will be promoted and advertised, and have exclusive book releases that can help to expand their fanbase.

Smaller authors don’t get this special treatment. So, while the pay scale is still the same, the visibility is certainly not equal.

Please also read our article about why some books aren’t available on Audible.

When can You Make a Living as an Author on Audible?

Only the most popular authors who were successful long before streaming books was an option can truly make a living by using Audible.

Top-tier authors can make over $40,000 yearly, depending on how many downloads they get. But, these days $40,000 a year not necessarily enough to make a living as an author.

Since 75% of authors only make the bare minimum through Audible, it won’t be enough to live off of.

So, how can you make a living as an author on audible?

The first thing to do would be to acquire a booking agent. An agent will help to get you the best deal when it comes to promotion and advertising through Audible.

However, it is easier said than done, and most authors are not able to secure an agent.

So, chances are the money you make on Audible will simply not be enough. This is why as an author, it is important to find other ways, along with audible, to sell your work.

Do Authors Make Money When a Reader Returns the Book?

Audible subscribers have the option to return a book on audible for any reason. This also means that a subscriber can return a book even if they have completely finished listening to it.

Unfortunately, for the author, this can mean big trouble. This is because Audible does not pay any royalties to the author once a book has been returned. 

But don’t worry – Audible has a solution for authors. Recently, Audible has changed its policy which now states that users can only return 2 book titles a year. 

So, while it is disappointing that authors won’t get paid for returned books, it is good to know that Audible has made it difficult for people to take advantage of this option.

How Much do Authors Make on Other Audio Book Platforms?

If you are an author and are exploring which royalty program through Audible would work best for you, it is important to see how Audible stacks up against other audiobook platforms.

Compared to other audio services like Blinkist and Audiobooks.com, Audible is right on average for what platforms like these pay their authors.

Most streaming services have a fairly similar pay scale to Audible at either 40% or 25% royalties, depending on what plan you choose as an author.

However, the highest-paying audiobook streaming service is Google Audio. Right now, Google Audio offers their authors a whopping 70% of the royalties.

Sources:

How To Best Support Your Favorite Audiobook Creators 

How Audiobook Authors and Narrators Are Paid Through Audible 

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