Introduction and Background:

I recently had the privilege and opportunity to travel out to Michigan and record my three inspirational Christian poetry books. Each book has 82 poems. I have no idea how I ended up with that number. Book 1: Thin Black Road (free ebook) is composed completely of poems that are also songs. The other two books are approximately half poems and half songs. Needless to say, by the time all was said and done, close to 400 files were prepped.

16 of the song versions per book were carefully chosen to include in the audiobook versions. It took almost a week to proof the files and another 2 weeks-ish to get them on the various platforms.

If you want the long-winded spiel on how I get most audios from page to product, check out 5 Steps to Better Audiobooks. ( may have some free codes left for that.)

If you’re interested in the poetry itself, every Friday from now until mid-Nov, 4 free poems/songs will be posted on my Patreon page.

Goin’ Wide:

One of the first decisions you’ll make is whether to stay exclusive to ACX (40% royalties) or go wide (25% royalties with them).

Since ACX’s code-shakeup back in March, I’ve mostly chosen to stick with them for the majority of projects, but this round, I knew from the start I wanted to go wide. For other projects, I’m interested in having the combo volumes be big enough to be attractive to code consumers. That would make it advantageous to earn the higher percentage of royalties since most sales happen there anyway. However, the combined volume for the poetry books came to 3.5 hours. That’s barely novella status, so it makes no sense to stick exclusively with ACX.

Overview of the Contenders:

If you want to publish audiobooks, you’ll likely run across these three companies:

  • ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) – This is Amazon’s platform. The beast. Probably one of the largest out there of its kind. For a long time, the only significant name in the business. There are other options these days. Limitations: I believe it’s only available to you if you live in the US, the UK, Canada, and Ireland and have a valid Tax ID number. Publishes to Audible, amazon, and iTunes.
  • Findaway Voices (associated with but NOT one and the same with Findaway) – A growing company that releases to 43 platforms, including ACX if you need to.
  • Audiobooks Unleashed – A newcomer to the audio distribution game. Says they distribute to 50+ places. You can find the list as you publish with them, but I didn’t feel like counting them. It’s a suitably long list.

There’s also Spoken Realms, but once again, I’m ignoring it because I’ve never used them. They didn’t want the books I was ready to send ’em and referred me to Findaway Voices. There may also be more, but I’m ignoring them too because I have zero experience with them.

Site Evaluation Random Scores:

For the heck of it, I’m going to use a 5-star evaluation sys. Yes, it’s random, but it should give you some food for thought.

4/5 ACX

This isn’t a truly fair comparison because I have used ACX for years, so I’m pretty comfortable with their site. They have a lot of help pages I get to ignore now. The how-to’s are a little fuzzier and there’s the downside of there being too much information on the site. I think I’d be intimidated if I was a newcomer to this.

If you have a finished product, you’d follow these steps:

            0) log in/ create an account

            1) claim the title. Side note: Make sure you claim the EBOOK version, not the paperback if you ever want it whispersynced.

            2) read and accept the contract – choose non-exclusive if you intend to use other platforms.

            3) copy paste your ch titles in if it doesn’t populate from the kindle already

            4) upload your audio files, opening credits, closing credits, and retail sample

            5) upload the audio cover (has to be square – read up on the specs they require)

            6) hit “I’m done”

            7) and wait … and wait. I “think” they’ve gotten a little better recently. I’ve had it take 2.5 months for a book to make it through Quality Assurance checks. I’ve also had a book rejected at 6 weeks. I’ve also had one short story through QA in 2 days. It’s still not for sale yet, but that too takes about a week.

I honestly can’t give you an accurate account of how steep the learning curve is for navigating ACX since I’m used to it by now. I will say it has a clean, professional look with fairly easy to navigate tabs (though some are pull-down menus, so watch out for those).

4.45/5 Findaway Voices

I’ve only seriously used Findaway Voices within the last few months. When the code bubble burst, I panicked and pulled the 11 titles I could so I could get them wide. In hindsight, I should have waited until I’d exhausted every single code I could with those titles, but live and learn I guess. It did force me to learn a new platform, which will help in the future.

If you have a finished product, you’d follow these steps:

            0) log in/ create an account

            1) Click the + New Project button (it’s green and pretty hard to miss because there’s not much else on that page)

            2) set up the metadata (title, cover, keywords, etc, site’s pretty straightforward about what goes where)

            3) Chose your distribution (very easy to use list – They have all 43 checked initially, you can hit a button for a list and deselect all then click on the individual places you want them to go to)

            4) upload your audiofiles (you can do steps 2-4 in any order but you can’t finalize the project until it’s all done). They have a section for opening credits, frontmatter (optional), body, back matter (thank you page, optional), closing credits, and retail sample. Their system is pickier about that 5-minute mark. The only caution I can think of is the same that’s all over that site, the order you have those files in the body matter, is the order they’ll be in the book. Interesting, life and time saving tip, you can upload multiple files at once!

            5) double check on the overview page and hit approve (it goes to QA, so you wait). If you’ve chosen to go to ACX through FV, then they warn you’ll be waiting a while there. Hoopla too.

Learning curve on this site was fairly gentle. As a courtesy, they provide you with an ISBN, though they also note that they can and will also limit the number of courtesy ISBNs you get. I was using one for AU anyway, so I provided my own this round. The advantage of using your own ISBN is that it’s under your imprint.

2.5/5 Audiobooks Unleashed

I will preface this with the fact that this in a brand-new name in the business. I submitted a book while it was still in beta. I think they’re out of beta now, but it’s understandable that there may be some kinks to work out. I’ve only recently used the site 4 times to get my poetry books there, so I’m familiar with the site now, but that learning curve was STEEP.

It’s not a very easy to use platform first go. I think the major nit I have with using the site itself is the lack of back buttons. You have to open everything in a new tab if you need to be able to read the help and do what you’re supposed to simultaneously.

If you have a finished product, you’d follow these steps:

            0) log in/create a profile

            1) submit an audiobook production – read and accept the contract (then I think you wait – I was told they manually review the books to make sure they’re a good fit for the company and that this process could take 2-3 business days. That info was not readily available on the site.)

            2) Once you provide them with an ISBN, they’ll set up a project folder. (When you need to get to that, be sure to use control and click so it opens in a new tab. One thing I noticed about AU’s site is that it’s not always easy to navigate back and forth b/t pages.) There are detailed directions but there are also a LOT of words on the project portal.  

            3) Here’s where the fun begins. Cover has to meet very specific specs. This site has a helpful link to a different site where you can resize your cover accordingly. Very handy. But be sure to make sure you control click so that it opens in a new tab so you can have the specs available and the resizing site opened at the same time. Save to your computer and upload to your project folder. When clicking on the > which will give you more information, it’ll open a side panel with the info and shift your screen. To get back to your full check list just click anywhere on the left side of the screen.

            4) Upload a copy of the epub version of the ebook to your project folder. If you need to make an epub version of your book, you can do so through Calibre.

            5) Upload the audiobook files. Here’s where I have the biggest bone to pick with this company. I understand why they have a convoluted labeling system (they need it so they can automate uploads to various other platforms), but it’s still a royal pain in the posterior to have to relabel files. This was especially annoying probably only to me because I was dealing with poetry (read: Many, many small files) as opposed to a normal book with only 25-50 chs. This site wants everything labeled ISBN_a 3 digit number. Took me 3+ hours to deal with my poetry files. Then you need to zip them up and add them to your project folder.

            – baby bone to pick with this company – you provide your own ISBN. Depending on which country you’re in, that can be a pain. I heard rumors that Canada hands them out like candy to residents. Otherwise, in the US and many other places, you’re stuck buying one through Bowker. I’d bought a block of a hundred ages ago, so I still have some left, but at 100/$525, that can get pricey. Google is saying 1 ISBN can cost $125. (Update: I’m told you can buy an ISBN in site for $10. That’s awesome and if you need to get one, you should definitely check that out.)

            6) I’m assuming the sample is different as in not in your zip file because it’s a separate item on the checklist.

            7) You’d have to double check that your audio files meet specific tests (they’ll do this in QA, but it’ll save time if you can catch anything ahead of time)

            8)  Fill in the metadata. You will need the exact runtime. Not sure how a normal person would know. I guess their program should tell them. I knew because ACX gives you the runtime as you upload files.

            9) Click everything on the check list and wait.

Side Note: Very exciting. AU offers Audio CDs of your audiobooks. I’ve no idea how to get ’em, but neither ACX or FV has that option.

General assessment:

Findaway Voices’s site is easiest to use, ACX comes next, and AU is last in terms of “easy to use.”

I haven’t made much money with either Findaway Voices or AU, but on both scores, I’d say it’s probably too early to tell if they are worth using.

Customer Service Random Scores:

3.5/5 ACX

ACX customer service is SLOW (1-3 business days to get an answer), but generally reliable. Most of what I’ve contacted them about is canceling contracts that needed to go for one reason or another. Most other questions have had mixed results, but usually, I can get the answers I need.

4.5/5 Findaway Voices

Findaway Voices customer service is relatively speedy and generally good. I’ve had to contact them a few times with publishing questions and canceling a project I accidentally opened. Both times help was rendered swiftly and satisfactorily.

3.75/5 Audiobooks Unleashed

Audiobooks Unleashed via email is pretty slow. I was able to track the owner down on FB because I was already in contact with her for the beta rounds of this site. In those cases, the answers were given swiftly, but I still had to blunder around the site like an idiot before I figured out how to use the darn portal. I got an answer from the tech email within a day, but the owner had to give me that email address. I’m not sure where it’s listed on the website.

Update: That said, when you do get somebody, you’re likely to get personalized, detailed help.

What’s the best company? (I have a finished product) Which should I use?

Like them or not, ACX goes to 3 of the biggest markets, so if you have the option to use them directly, I’d suggest going with them. Just choose a non-exclusive contract if you intend to use other platforms as well.

Findaway Voices and Audiobooks Unleashed have a lot of overlap. If you intend to use both, make sure you carefully select which company you want to use for which platform they can reach. Note: These companies are both middlemen, so if you can go direct to a platform, that’s usually the best option. They do save you a heck of a lot of time and effort though. That’s kind of the point.


Since each site probably has some platforms that are exclusive to them, I think it’s worth it to try all three if you need to go wide with your audiobook. If you’re a narrator, definitely seek to work with all three. Right now, AU doesn’t do pairings of authors with narrators, but they intend to in the future. Findaway will do it, but their prices are sky HIGH compared to what you can do with ACX.

Audiobook Promotions …

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33 of my 36 audible titles are listed on Audiobooks Unleashed.
Whether you’re looking for mystery or suspense or fantasy, I’ve got a title for you. Never Again (mystery, suspense) and Reshner’s Royal Ranger (epic sci-fi) just made it there.
Note: Filter by US if you’re looking for those codes as many titles are out.
Ones I think may still have US codes: Reshner’s Royal Ranger, Never Again, Innova, The Golden City Captives, The Holy War, Reclaim the Darklands, Eagle Eyes, Treachery Makes it Tense, Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts, The Dark Side of Science, Ashlynn’s Dreams, Nadia’s Tears, Malia’s Miracles, and Varick’s Quest

Devya’s Children Series Links:

Ashlynn’s Dreams Shorts – short stories featuring Jillian.
The Dark Side of Science – official prequel to Devya’s Children; Genetically altered kids fight for the right to live. (Def US codes for this one, but not on AU. Find me on FB)
Ashlynn’s Dreams – Genetically altered Dream Shaper learns her gift.
Nadia’s Tears – Jillian tries to awaken her sister, Nadia, from a coma.
Malia’s Miracles – Jillian and her siblings try to save a friend’s mother.
Varick’s Quest – Jillian and Danielle get kidnapped. Nadia’s also in trouble.

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