Let’s Parse The 2014 Publishing Predictions

PotOfGold+Rainbow_OpLots of well-known publishing folks have already posted their 2014 industry predictions. Since I surfed around and read a bunch of them (while I was supposed to be writing) I thought I’d save you the time and the guilt and share what they’ve said – filtered, of course, through the lens of what I think is important.

We all know that the only constant is change, and 2014 won’t be an exception for authors. Much of what’s being said is similar (focus on readers and craft), but there are a couple of verrrry interesting comments I think may help us all on our quest for that pot of gold.

Mark Coker, Smashwords
Per Coker, “In 2014, competition will increase dramatically, and big publishers will turn 2013’s price promotions into the new normal. With the bulk of ebook pricing now below $4.00, price promotions will become less effective.” In addition …

  • Subscription ebook services will change the game. If ebook subscription services (most notably Scribd and Oyster, which charge a monthly fee for limitless reading) make their business models work, they’ll shift how readers value and consume books. Readers will no longer have to decide if a book is worth the price; instead, holding the reader’s attention will determine a writer’s success.
  • It’s all about the writing. It’s back to basics time. In a world where readers face an unlimited quantity of high-quality low-cost works, the writers who achieve the most success will be those who take their readers to the most emotionally satisfying extremes. Your job as the indie author is to write that super-fabulous book. That involves great writing and professional-quality editing.
  • Platform is king. Authors who can build, maintain and leverage their platforms will have a significant competitive advantage, and platform will become more important than ever in 2014. Awareness and desire are the two primary factors that drive sales of any product or brand. Your job is to build awareness of your brand, and to build, earn and deserve positive desire. Your platform helps you get the message out to existing fans, and helps you reach new fans.

Link here to read: 2014 Book Publishing Industry Predictions

Joe Konrath
Joe’s been showing self-published authors the way for years now, and to the best of my knowledge, he hasn’t done us wrong. Here are a few points from his fine list of things he thinks we’ll be up against this year.

  • The end of Barnes & Noble as we know it. In 2014, paper book sales will no longer be significant enough to sustain the nation’s largest bookstore chain. There may be bankruptcy and restructuring and the selling of assets (like the Nook), but ultimately it will result in many stores closing, and possibly the demise of the brand. (Many disagree with his statement, so don’t shoot the messenger.)
  • Libraries will have the opportunity to buy ebooks directly from authors. Namely me and those who join me via a new company I’m starting. I’ll be making an announcement soon, but in short, I want to give libraries everything the Big 5 are denying them, and I want all authors who control their rights to enroll in a new, innovate, and extremely generous way for everyone – including libraries – to profit from ebooks. (I bet Joe got about 5,000 new email subscriptions from authors determined to keep an eye on this.)
  • Visibility will become harder. The future will be about actively cultivating a readership. So far … authors have been able to get visible without reconnecting with longtime readers. But I believe maintaining a fanbase is going to become increasingly more important. That means having an up-to-date website, making it easy to sign up for your newsletter, staying active in social media, and regenerating your brand with new titles and continued promotions. My prediction: self-pubbed authors who don’t focus on their current, core readership will see sales diminish.

Link here to read: Publishing Predictions 2014

Author Media
Thomas Umstattd Jr. posted tidbits from many different people in his predictions piece, but I thought his addition was the message we most need to pay attention to.

  • Massive Audiobook Growth. Audiobooks will have another year of double digit growth [in 2014]. As the fastest growing book format, it will get more attention leading to even more growth. We will see more publishers taking advantage in the amazing growth of Audiobooks to convert backlist titles into audiobooks using services like ACX.com.

Link here to read: 14 Publishing Predictions for 2014

Penny C. Sansevieri for HuffPo
Penny is a well-know book marketer and she knows her stuff. I think it’s interesting that she’s advocating the continued use of free as a book promotion tool.

  • More is better. Pushing out more books for marketing reasons will be a big game-changer for many. When an author releases another book within a short 6-9 month window, they’ll often see higher sales of prior books. (So) use the back matter of your book to cross-promote all of your titles. Do not, under any circumstances, end your book without giving readers a chance to engage with you, your other material, or your characters.
  • Short is the new long. You don’t have to be writing 500-page tomes. Create one or two full length books a year plus micro-content such as novellas or shorter books. It’s a great way to gain visibility and stay in front of your readers.
  • Readers are key. Readers have the power to drive the success or failure of books and no amount of advertising or traditional media will change that. Finding ways to reach your reader directly will become the ultimate goal. If you’re already doing this, you’re really ahead of the game; and if you’re not, the time to start is now.
  • Amazon keywords rule. We’re seeing a new trend on Amazon: readers aren’t searching by author or terms like mystery, romance or business, they’re searching by keywords like “romance books under 2.99.” This means you need to figure out what readers search in your market and rank for those searches. Keywords on your Amazon page and in your book descriptions will be a must.
  • Free isn’t dead. Many say readers are immune to freebies, free books, free promotions. But I think this is wrong. Free should be part of everything you do. Putting solid, free content out there will bring in new customers by the truckload.

Link here to read: Book Marketing Predictions for 2014

Readers, what do YOU plan to do differently in 2014? Sounds to me like we need to keep an eye on new distribution methods such as audiobooks, and new sale platforms like Oyster and Scribd. What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and share!

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6 Responses to Let’s Parse The 2014 Publishing Predictions

  1. Molly Greene January 7, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    Sorry everyone, I accidentally closed comments when I published this post, but now we’re officially open for discussion!

    • Catherine L Vickers January 7, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

      Hope you didn’t mind my blog article on your blog article. I really got the cogs in my wheels turning. I think the future is going to be very exciting for indie authors. All it will take is a talent with words AND plenty of stamina.

      • Molly Greene January 7, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

        Hi Catherine, not at all, I appreciate your enthusiasm and the link to my blog post! Indies need to keep their ears open and be ready to turn on a dime. I believe embracing the new before it gets old will be our best bet.

  2. Laura Zera January 8, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

    Thanks for curating these morsels, Molly. And I do often wonder how old Barnes and Noble is hanging in there… not that I want to see Joe’s prediction come true, but man, running their brick-and-mortar operation has got to be hitting their profits pretty hard.

  3. Benjamin Wallace January 9, 2014 at 7:21 am #

    Thanks for doing this. Saved me a lot of time.

    • Molly Greene January 9, 2014 at 11:15 am #

      Hey Ben, thanks so much!