It wasn’t so long ago that if you were a self-publisher and wanted to get some of the audiobook action the only real choice was Amazon-owned Audible’s ACX, which allows indie authors in a handful of countries (US, UK, Canada and Ireland) to upload audiobooks which would then be available on Amazon, Audible and on Apple.
In recent years that situation has changed dramatically, with operators like Findaway among many that give independent authors the chance to reach not just Audible and Apple but a raft of other audiobook outlets, including Kobo and Storytel among many, and usually on better terms than offered by ACX.
Today comes news that Rakuten Kobo’s self-publishing arm Kobo Writing Life has finally opened up to direct audiobook uploads via the KWL dashboard.
You can now upload and sell your audiobooks, in the easy-to-use Kobo Writing Life dashboard. Your audiobook will be published in a few simple steps:
• Describe your audiobook
• Upload your cover image, audio files
• Create a custom Table of Contents
• Enter your pricing and hit publish
• Your audiobook will be published within 72 hours
We won’t ask you for exclusivity. We encourage our authors to publish and distribute with multiple platforms to broaden your audience. We will also have lots of promotional opportunities for KWL authors.
Unlike with ACX, where Amazon sets the price, KWL lets the author choose a list price anywhere between free ($0.00) and $28.00 USD, with a 35% royalty for prices below $2.99 and 45% above. Prices can be set for 16 currencies, reflecting Kobo’s operational reach.
In theory Kobo can be accessed anywhere in the world, but outside the 16 territories consumers will be sent to the US store and have to pay US prices, always assuming the author has selected world rights.
Kobo’s notional global reach set against its practical reach remains one of the mysteries of the company, but presumably reflects the priorities of the parent company, Japan-based Rakuten.
That’s a shame as Kobo is accessible everywhere, unlike the Kindle store, the Apple Books store and Google Play Books, all of which block access across much of the world.
As part of Rakuten, Kobo is a sister company to OverDrive, and there has been some synergy between Kobo and OverDrive in relation to ebooks, but so far there is no suggestion KWL authors will be able to get their audiobooks into OverDrive via the KWL system.
Such deficiencies notwithstanding, this is a big step forward for indie authors who are producing their own audio titles and another minor blow to Audible’s ACX, which has been getting increasing flack from self-publishers for its contractual demands as other audiobook options have emerged with what many regard as more friendly terms.
In stark contrast to KWL, ACX pays a 40% royalty if you opt to be exclusive with the company, and just 25% if not. KWL does not require exclusivity.
On the ACX site Amazon states,
ACX is currently open to residents of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada or Ireland who have a mailing address, valid local Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), and banking details for one of the countries listed above. While ACX is not available outside of these countries, we hope to expand ACX’s global availability in the future.
In fact the last expansion of ACX was for the UK and Ireland back in 2014, which was also the year Amazon last launched a new Kindle store.