With 2015 right around the corner, it’s time to start looking to the future and where we might be headed. While I don’t have a crystal ball (and often I wish I did), I wanted to take a look at where I think publishing, self-publishing, and marketing are headed in the new year.
I’ve compiled 12 publishing and marketing predictions for 2015. For many of these, we’ve started to see shades of this in Q4. Think I’m wrong on any of these or I missed something? I’d love to hear from you!
One – Discoverability
Back in 2010 we heard the word “platform” so much that, for many of us, it became white noise. And to add insult to injury, every author was told they needed a platform, but no one (outside of publishers and agents) really knew what it meant. Discoverability, however, is a different animal.
We all know what it means and we know that without it, you won’t sell books. This word, though at times overused, is going to be paramount to authors.
Finding ways to get found is going to become an even bigger issue in 2015, and you’ll start to see a lot of companies offering “discoverability” packages.
Be aware that not everyone can get you access to readers so as options continue to present themselves, buyer beware. Just check out the service carefully.
Two – Paid Social
As we’ve seen with Facebook, it’s more difficult to get exposure in social media which is why by the end of 2015 I think you’ll need to pay. This may, however, open up the floodgates again for micro-social sites.
Before Facebook morphed into the machine it is, we actually saw a lot more of these social sites dedicated to user-hobbies or interests like cars, music, etc.
Instead of flooding Facebook with hundreds of posts your users may not see, many of these sites will start to crop up and users will flock to them looking for real information on stuff they want to see, vs. what Facebook lets you see.
Three – Goodreads/Amazon Integration
Though Amazon bought Goodreads over two years ago now, we haven’t seen much going on with the site until recently. Small, almost invisible changes have started showing up, and I think in 2015 we’re finally going to see the full integration of Goodreads into Amazon.
What that may mean exactly I don’t know, but I suspect things like reviews and book discussions will get woven into the book page. I agree that this won’t make a lot of people happy, but it will give the reader a better, more integrated experience – and that’s what Amazon cares about.
Four – eBook Pricing
Now with agency pricing back in full swing, and publishers putting whatever price they want on their eBooks (per the Hachette/Amazon dispute), I think you’re going to see a surge of pricing changes in 2015. Readers won’t pay high prices for an eBook, and Amazon’s figures have proven that the sweet spot is $2.99 to $5.99 for eBook pricing. Yes, it’s low, but also consider the average reader.
The best market for digital is genre fiction and these fans tend to be avid readers, meaning they could blow through a book a week, or two books a month. So pricing books high does not make a ton of sense, because this market won’t support it. Maybe your book isn’t in genre fiction, and that’s fine, but these price points affect all of us.
Five – The Surge of Audio and Print
While eBooks are not going to shrink in popularity, for many authors who have gone to eBook only, the pressure to make the book available in multiple formats will grow. It’s never a bad idea to have a book in print. In fact, if you want to succeed with the deluge of new titles published each year, you’ll need to have your book in print and possibly also audio.
Audiobooks will continue to grow in 2015 with many new books emerging from this channel, including a lot of indie titles that were previously in eBook only. As indie publishing continues to grow, books that are available in multiple formats will be set apart from those that are just eBook only.
Six – The Rise of the Reader
The power is now in the hands of the reader and has been for a while, but in the new year we’re going to see a much bigger push here. Amazon already has launched this with their Kindle Scout program, and we know that readers can make or break a book. If you aren’t focused on building your readership, you’re really missing the boat.
And I’m not talking about just getting more reviews, I’m talking about one-on-one reader connection. Building your tribe of Super Fans will not only be key, it will be crucial to your success.
Seven – The Rise of the Hybrid/Indie Author
Though this isn’t new, you’re going to see much more in the new year, as a lot of traditionally published authors decide to diversify and self-publish more of their books.
Eight – Bookstores Step up Their Game
If bookstores are going to survive, they will have to change their business model. Most bookstores turn their noses up at indie books because most indie titles don’t sell more than 100 copies, and most of that is sold to family and friends. So stocking them isn’t always a great idea.
Some stores have implemented policies that give authors the opportunity to get their books shelved in stores for a fee. I think you’re going to start seeing more of this, sort of like the way that airport stores work: pay for placement. Bookstores need to really understand and embrace their greatest benefit which is discoverability.
This will become even more of an issue (per #1) in 2015 and beyond. Bookstores will open up shelf space, selling this to authors much like they sell to traditional publishers.
Nine – Combining Forces
We’ve already seen authors collaborate by pulling together to do a book bundle and, in fact, even big-named bestselling authors are doing this as well. We saw this in 2014 with David Baldacci when he edited the book series FaceOff, and in the new year you’re going to see a lot more of that.
With all of the new books out there it will be important for authors with a strong following to help and support each other with combined books and perhaps even combining book tours.
Ten – The End of the Review
Okay, don’t panic. Reviews aren’t going away, but it is getting harder to find bloggers who don’t have a huge backlog who are willing to review your book. If you have a base of bloggers who love your work, take very good care of them because in 2015 it’s going to become difficult to find bloggers who have the room on their growing reading list to take on your book.
If you’re a new author, you should not turn down a single review request you get, I don’t care how small the blogger seems. Everyone has to start somewhere. You may want to hold out for only the big names, but I will tell you, they fill up fast.
Eleven – Publishers Reinventing Themselves
This may be a stretch because publishers hate change, but I think that if they’re going to remain relevant, they’ll need to start looking at their value-add which is their backlist, their relationships with bookstores, bloggers, and other ties that help to increase their value to the author.
Right now a lot of indie authors say: why should I go with a traditional house, what’s the value? If publishers want to keep expanding their markets (and presumably most do) then their value needs to be clear: “Here is what we can do for you.” Publishers can no longer ride on the coattails of just being one of the big six New York publishers. That ship has sailed.
Also, I think that publishers could and should redo their contracts that reflect a responsibility share and even a marketing cost share with authors so that authors aren’t looking to publishers wondering what they are doing on behalf of their book (and surprisingly many still do this).Instead, they’ll know, right up front, how the marketing will shake out and what they are responsible for.
Additionally, I think it’s not unreasonable for publishers to penalize authors who don’t share responsibility. Some years back we were working for an author who had published with Wiley.
He made hundreds of promises to the publishers, shared lists of things he planned to do. When publication time came around he went MIA and the book languished because of it.
Smart publishers should not just rely on an author’s word, but get it in writing and make sure the author knows the expectations. Publishing needs to evolve, and I think 2015 will see it change significantly.
Twelve – The Bar is Officially Raised
It’s here, that raised bar we all keep talking about. With all of the hundreds of thousands of books published, many more of those (more than ever) will go unnoticed. Right now the average sale for a self-published book is 100 copies. I believe that number will drop to 10 or less.
Shocking? Not really. A lot of authors aren’t prepared for the marketing or the work it takes to get a book out there. Now, more than ever you’ll need not just a good product, and not even a great one, but an outstanding one.
One of the gals on my team recently told me that she’s been reading a lot of indie titles and while they’re good, most of them, she says, need an editor. The days of short cuts, self-editing, and self-designed covers are gone. Bring your A-game or don’t play at all.
So those are my predictions, I guess we’ll see at the end of next year whether I hit the mark or missed it. One thing I know for sure, things in publishing are changing fast and will continue to do so in the new year!
Here’s wishing you all a very successful and prosperous 2015!
This article was originally published on The Future of Ink and is reprinted here in its entirety for our Magnolia Media Network readers.