Let’s Parse The 2016 Publishing Predictions

2016It’s insane to think we’re already well into a new year. And, of course, that means publishing industry experts have presented their take on what we’ll be up against. So during the past weeks I’ve read a ton of articles discussing what the pros believe authors will experience over the next few months, and I’ve picked a few to share. Here goes!

Amazon Select and KU will change

Well, that’s not going out on a limb. I think it’s safe to expect that throughout 2016 Amazon will continue to introduce changes to author-centric programs, which will both benefit and detract from self-publishers’ bottom lines. Kindle Unlimited alone evolved significantly last year, and whether the impact of those changes was good or bad depends on your perspective.

Agent Laurie McLean goes so far as to predict (on Anne R. Allen’s blog) that KU will provide an even larger slice of the self publishers’ income pie, which I find interesting, given that other trends indicate it might be time to wave bye-bye to Select.

Takeaway: What do I know?

Competition will ramp up

No surprise here. A ramp-up in competition – meaning millions of new authors and titles entering the arena – has been happening steadily since the Gold Rush days of 2011, so don’t expect that to change now. Yes, as Mark Coker said, some authors will get tired of the gig and go away, sure, but thousands are preparing to take their place. Takeaway? Don’t count on a huge dash to the doors. Cinch your belt and keep writing.

Mobile reading will increase

The biggest growth trend among readers worldwide appears to be reading on mobile phones. Lots of people are talking about this, including Jane Friedman on Joanna Penn’s blog, where Jane and Joanna say that iBooks may be poised to lead the pack now that the app comes pre-installed on every new iPhone.

Takeaways? 1) Another compelling reason to leave Select and “go wide,” and 2) with more readers moving to mobile, will this trend support authors of shorter books – as opposed to 100k wordy ones? We’ll have to wait and see, but according to literary agent Chip MacGregor, “I think the rise (I’d say return is a better word, since novellas got dissed by KU moving to KENP) of the 40k-to-45k novel is upon us.” Takeaway? What novellas lost to KENP may be reversed. Food for thought.

Global markets are the place to be

… and not just for translations. Mark Williams over at The International Indie Author has been saying this for a long time, and if you join his Facebook group you won’t believe how generous he is with his knowledge and information about how, where, and why to get your titles available all over the world. Takeaway? Going global might be another reason to leave Select, since Amazon doesn’t have a huge presence in all worldwide English-speaking markets.

Print and audio are strong

… and, like translations for global markets, these formats provide a way to make more moolah off a single completed project. I’m heading into print and audio territory myself in 2016, after hanging back all this time.

Social media

Joanna and Jane also talk about the fact that Twitter is getting left behind, but Facebook is bigger than ever. I agree, Twitter is a wasteland compared to how much fun it was back in, say, 2011. It’s still super relevant for news and quick sharing of same, but from an author-marketing aspect, NOT.

Might that be partly due to the fact that so many new authors jumped onboard and started sending direct tweets ad-infinitum to other authors (and everybody else) to buy their books? I wonder. Or maybe I’m just jaded. In case you haven’t gotten the word, it’s a turn-off, people. (Don’t believe me? Read #2 on Wendig’s latest.)

Keep an eye on Overdrive

Agent Laurie McLean also noted that the “ebook lending side of the library business is booming.” In 2015, Kobo’s parent company purchased Overdrive, a service that can give indies access to library cataloges. And, of course, lending libraries are a great way for authors to be discovered. The potential question is, of course, will Kobo allow authors exclusive to Amazon into their system? (I wouldn’t.) Right now the only access I know of is through Self-e and a few distributors like Smashwords. Another reason to leave Select? We’ll see.

Publishing will continue to change

By now we all have to know this is true. The Midlist sold out to HarperCollins and closed its doors to self-pubbers, which was a drag, but even WORSE! Ms. Friedman raises the specter that BookBub could also be acquired this year. Acccccck! Jane, wash your mouth out with soap. The takeaway for every author with eyes on this page? BUILD YOUR OWN LIST, because today’s go-to promo site might be unavailable – to indies, anyway – tomorrow.

Authors, what trends are you seeing in your own business, books and sales? Leave a comment and share!

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26 Responses to Let’s Parse The 2016 Publishing Predictions

  1. Connie Rossini January 25, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

    Interesting. Thanks for the roundup. I made an audio of my first book back in April with ACX. Sales were really slow at first, but have been growing–22 in December, 19 so far this month, plus some bonuses. Meanwhile, my ebook sales are tanking and online print sales are the worst this month since publishing in July ’14. Part of it is just trying to find new audiences online. I have taken one book out of KDP Select and put in in D2D, but only have had one sale of it outside Amazon in 4 months! So, I have the perennial question of whether to remain in Select with my other 3 books. Just this week i published through IngramSpark for the first time. It makes me feel better not to be so dependent on Amazon. We’ll see if I can get my books into physical stores. I do have 2 stores that have already said they want to stock my first book. I’m also looking at translations.

    • Molly Greene January 25, 2016 at 3:01 pm #

      Interesting, Connie. I’ve heard it takes about 6 months to ramp up sales on the other platforms, and a BookBub promo is a good way to “get the word out” quickly. I kept my latest release – pubbed mid-December – OUT of Select as an experiment, and sold 3 x more than my other titles during the same period. So far no complaints from series readers that it’s not in KU. Gah!! I wish we had a manual!!

      • Connie Rossini January 25, 2016 at 3:13 pm #

        I haven’t been able to get into BookBub yet. Since I write Catholic nonfiction, I have a very specific market. I’m glad going wider is working for you. I suspect that it’s what we’ll all be doing in the longrun.

        • Molly Greene January 25, 2016 at 3:17 pm #

          I didn’t go wide just didn’t put the book in Select, so people can only buy it, not borrow. And you DO have a very specific market!

          • Connie Rossini January 25, 2016 at 4:19 pm #

            I never thought of doing that. And you got 3x the sales? Wow, that really gives me something to think about.

          • Molly Greene January 25, 2016 at 4:39 pm #

            … BUT those extra sales could be attributed to “fans” who’ve read the other books and had to have the next installment. That’s why I said I wish we had a manual!

  2. Pamela Beason January 25, 2016 at 6:11 pm #

    Thanks, Molly, for the post. My own experience with KU has been that it seems to work for well known authors, but has flooded the “free” market and pretty much drowned out those of us who are still trying to achieve name recognition. I also currently get about 40% of my sales from outside of Amazon, mainly through Draft2Digital. I get requests from readers to make my books into audiobooks, but that is too expensive for me right now. Of course, this would all change tomorrow—that’s the nature of publishing right now.

    • Molly Greene January 25, 2016 at 6:17 pm #

      Wow, Pam, 40% sales outside Amazon is great! … and as for audio, you can post your books on ACX and find a producer willing to do a royalty split – that way no up front costs for you. That’s what happened for me.

  3. Irene Sauman January 25, 2016 at 6:15 pm #

    Thanks for a timely post Molly. I signed up recently with Ingram Spark for my first two in a series that will be out this year, despite the lower royalty for ebooks. The reasons were worldwide distribution of both print and ebooks and the possibility of connecting with Overdrive for library lending. I’m feeling more positive about that decision now. Thanks again.

    • Molly Greene January 25, 2016 at 6:18 pm #

      Great news, Irene! Huge congrats and best of luck to you.

  4. Virginia King January 25, 2016 at 6:33 pm #

    Another spot-on post and great round-up, Molly, saving us all from doing it ourselves. Brilliant. An author friend has just hit Twitter for the first time, urged by all her blogging friends. Hmmm. I agree social media doesn’t sell a single book — I use Twitter to inform myself and FB to keep in touch with followers by rarely mentioning “my books”. I’ve found my fans one at at time through a whole range of different channels — and have just opted out of KDP Select to spread my reach. I keep remembering how much fun writing is 🙂

    • Molly Greene January 25, 2016 at 6:42 pm #

      Thanks, Virginia! Years ago Twitter was SO much fun. I met loads of authors I’m still friendly with and have always used it to draw folks to my blog. But for the past year or so I’ve neglected my presence there and spent more time on Facebook, where it seems easier to connect with readers. Looking forward to hear about your experience “going wide” as the year progresses!

  5. Anne R. Allen January 25, 2016 at 7:02 pm #

    Molly–Thanks for the shout-out for Laurie’s post on my blog. I didn’t want to argue with her, but I agree that KU seems to be losing its luster for a lot of authors.

    I agree that FB is more important than ever, but I think Twitter is still relevant. It was never a direct marketing venue. But it’s a great place to network.

    I sent one tweet of an old post last week because somebody had asked about the subject, and the thing went viral. over 6000 hits in a matter of hours. All from one tweet.

    Good stuff here! Thanks!

    • Molly Greene January 26, 2016 at 7:56 am #

      My pleasure, Anne. I agree that Twitter has never been a direct-sale platform, and I’ve written about that often in the past. I think what happened for me is that after five years I have just gotten tired of fielding all the DMs and direct-sale tweets from authors who are still being told it’s the thing to do. I continue to tweet my blog posts – past and present – but I don’t spend much time “live” on the platform like I used to.

  6. Sue Coletta January 26, 2016 at 7:39 am #

    Interesting article. I need to disagree with you about Twitter, though. If done correctly, Twitter can be very effective. I use AuthorRise, which is free. You create “flyers” from your reviews. AuthorRise adds your cover and buy button and turns your tweet into a Twitter card. It works, too. Conversely, if an author shouts, “Buy my book!!” and hijacks other authors’ feed (which I hate) they’ll get nowhere fast.

    Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned, Molly!

    • Molly Greene January 26, 2016 at 8:10 am #

      Thanks for the tip, Sue. In five years you may be tired of Twitter, too. 🙂

  7. MM Jaye January 26, 2016 at 9:51 am #

    Great roundup, Molly! Just when I was thinking I’d never get around to reading all the “predictions” posts and articles I’d saved in Evernote. This year, I’m committed to writing more, despite the day job and the tough home front, and it seems I’m managing, but when it comes to marketing, and all the available options, I break out in cold sweat!

    So good to have you leading the way. 🙂

    Question: how do you explain more sales just by pulling out of Select?

    • Molly Greene January 26, 2016 at 9:59 am #

      Thanks Maria! And as for Midnight at Half Moon Bay, I have no explanation. My guess is that fans of the series are buying it (because they can’t borrow) to find out what happened, but who knows??? And since KU borrows pay me about as much as a purchase, it sounds like a big deal re: payout but it’s not.

  8. Fran Wessel January 27, 2016 at 5:36 am #

    Hi Molly,
    What do you do it your e-book is up at Amazon without a contract? My former publisher has placed my book at Amazon, though I have all rights. I have contacted the Publisher twice through their web site channels with no response. I’ve also contacted Amazon legal digital department with a copy of my returned rights letter.
    Fran, writing as Allene Frances

    • Molly Greene January 27, 2016 at 7:43 am #

      Sorry, Fran, I’m a self-published author and I cannot help. I would suggest speaking with an industry attorney.

  9. Fran Wessel January 27, 2016 at 2:00 pm #

    Is that what you’d do if you found one of your books somewhere you didn’t place it? Seems like such a trashy way for a publisher to act. grrrr.
    BTW, Love that Gen Delacourt! Go girl!

    • Molly Greene January 27, 2016 at 5:51 pm #

      Fran, I’m betting they don’t even know they did it … and yes, I’d ask an attorney’s advice, but chances are Amazon will honor your rights before it comes to that. THANKS re: Gen!

  10. Jennifer Jennings January 28, 2016 at 11:57 am #

    I don’t have a twitter account, and I don’t see myself getting one. I’m rarely on Facebook to promote my books. Bookbub and ENT have been the only real promotion sites I’ve used. I sure hope Bookbub doesn’t get bought.
    I have noticed some author friends pulling out of KU, but I don’t think I’m ready to, just yet. Half of my income comes from borrows. Each month is a new adventure, isn’t it? I’ll keep on writing and hope for the best.
    Thanks, Molly, for another informative post.

    • Molly Greene January 28, 2016 at 1:20 pm #

      Thanks, Jennifer. I rarely promote my books on Facebook but have met enough readers there to make it verrrrry interesting … and you’re right, it IS all a huge adventure, isn’t it???

  11. Debbie McClure January 28, 2016 at 12:34 pm #

    As usual you’ve given us all some terrific feedback, links, and insight into some areas that can seem dark and murky. Having just signed with a small literary agency and requesting the rights back for my first two books from my previous publisher (long story), 2016 may see me dipping my toes into the indie pool. Wish me luck. Posts like yours are keepers, so thanks!

    • Molly Greene January 28, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

      Congrats on your new agent, Debbie. Sounds like 2016 will be a big adventure for you – best of luck in everything!