Trends in Publishing 2018

by Gina Burgess

There’s great news and there’s not so great news for trends in publishing in 2018.

Facebook is trimming the newsfeed input from pages/brands/businesses saying that this kind of input to an individual’s newsfeed has much less spark for interactions–and that affects a person’s mood. You can check out the explanation here.

This means that more than ever an author AND service providers to authors need platforms. If you have always depended on Facebook to get the word out about your service or your new book, even if people have liked your Facebook page, they are less likely to get your announcement in their newsfeed with this new Facebook algorithm. Facebook is still a viable option for advertising your stuff, but now the requirements are for more interaction friendly stuff. That also means that there will be fewer videos–less spark for interactions. You can read a bit more about that on Social Media Examiner.

Another trend that is a little more exciting is the indie publishing craze. It is absolutely super that so many authors are self-publishing their works. In 2016, Bowker reported a 375% increase in these indie published books since 2010. It’s only going to get higher. Here’s what Bowker reported:

ISBN registrations for self-published titles have grown more than 375% since 2010, climbing from 152,978 ISBNs to 727,125 ISBNs.

“ISBN registrations capture a significant portion of the self-publishing market,” said Beat Barblan, Director of Identifier Services at Bowker. “By comparing the number of registrations year over year, we gain valuable insight into a flourishing industry.”

The report reveals other emerging trends in self-publishing:

  • More authors are opting for a hybrid approach to book publishing. Rather than committing exclusively to self-publication or going through a traditional publishing house, authors choose the best method for their work, depending on type of book, sales market, or target audience.
  • Booksellers and libraries are seeking opportunities to incorporate this thriving source of content into their offerings.

“As the field of self-publishing matures, the quality of both content and format for many of these titles is becoming indistinguishable from those published by traditional houses,” said Mr. Barblan. “In recent years, the number of independent authors topping prominent bestseller lists is a clear indication that readers are embracing author-published titles.”*

*Emphasis is mine.

Here’s a quote from Written Word Media:

What this means for you: Competition for indie authors is increasingly coming from other indie authors. Given that most indie authors price their titles at $2.99 or below, pricing alone is less effective at acquiring readers. Marketing your books and cultivating a loyal reader following will become even more important.

Unit Sales of Print Books (in thousands), 2013–2016 from Publisher’s Weekly

2013 2014 2015 2016 Change 2015–2016
Total 620,044 635,093 652,673 674,151 3.29%
By Channel
Retail & Club 501,658 518,901 546,719 573,761 4.95%
Mass Merch./Other 118,385 116,191 105,953 100,389 -5.25%
By Category
Adult Nonfiction 236,833 240,130 256,042 273,589 6.85%
Adult Fiction 150,590 138,712 141,690 140,221 -1.04%
Juvenile Nonfiction 42,283 48,882 54,624 55,456 1.52%
Juvenile Fiction 157,707 176,685 171,383 178,043 3.8%
By Format
Hardcover 168,250 173,483 178,255 187,940 5.43%
Trade Paper 324,701 338,940 355,737 370,019 4.01%
Mass Market 80,020 71,758 64,318 59,357 -7.71%
Board Books 23,069 27,092 30,978 33,280 7.43%
Audio 5,116 5,128 4,434 3,836 -13.49%

Source: Nielsen Bookscan

(Let’s remember that the estimated number of working age American is about 205,624,000. And 76% of those read at least one book last year.) This is great news. With more than 674 million books bought, that means the market pool is actually very deep. Platform expansion will be the key to selling books in 2018.

I do not like this idea that authors are in competition with each other. Being lost in a sea of available books on Amazon is more like it, but competition is really not the right word. Even though Amazon and other booksellers have algorithms that promote and reward better selling books, 76% of Americans (according to Pew Research) read books. The average number of books read is 12 per year considering both print books and digital books. No author can write 12 books a year. Even Dean Kootz, one of the most prolific writers I know could only write four books a year under various pseudonyms.  An avid reader will read at least 25 to 52 books and portions of books a year, and maybe more.

According to Neilson Reports, 29% of books read were romance books in 2013. That has probably stayed around the same number because Neilson also reports that the number of books bought has stayed about the same since 2012.

In case your head is spinning and your eyes have crossed with all these statistics, I’m just trying to point out that there is a great deal of strength in numbers, especially where authors are concerned. If you are an author of historical fiction and a part of your story encompasses a romance angle, then you can partner with a romance author and each capitalize on the other’s platform. If you write literary fiction, then what ever subtopic in your story line (history, contemporary, or women’s issues, family sagas, etc.) partner with an author of historical fiction, or chic lit, or so on to capitalize on each other’s platforms. The more crossovers you discover, the more marketing exposure and expansion you have.

You can find all kinds of authors in our Authors Community Discussion Forum.