What lies ahead for self-publishing authors in 2016?
How will your experience of being an author change by this time next year? What will you be doing this time next year that you're not doing now?
Here are 16 points that spring to my mind – do you agree? Feel free to add your own predictions after you've read mine!
- The gold-rush illusion will continue to fade as authors who thought self-publishing was an easy route to a fast buck fail by not treating it like a serious profession.
- The media will continue to get it wrong, e.g. they're still wildly adrift about the popularity of ebooks, and successful indie authors will split into two camps: those that know better, and those that are discouraged by their misinformation. ALLi will continue to campaign and educate the media, and eventually they'll latch on.
- Change will continue at a rapid pace, making us feel like we're living through a speeded-up movie, making it harder to keep up with developments.
- Those who stay the course will become increasingly aware of the constant need for self-education in this fast-changing world, with more demand for different means of learning, according to the method that suits them best: books, courses, distance learning, events, and whatever it takes to tap in to the generous community's wisdom (top tip = join ALLi!)
- More indie authors will become braver and more experimental, moving on from the typical entry point of publishing solely with KDP select, and diversifying onto other ebook distribution platforms (iBooks, Kobo etc) and print, while also becoming more aware and active in other means of getting their words in front of readers, particularly those involving audio and video.
- The revival in reading will continue through national and global campaigns to encourage a love of books, e.g. the growing interest in World Book Night, and, in the UK, for example, the BBC's new Big Read programme for 2016.
- Natural selection will ensure that the survival of the fittest bookstores, as the more dynamic and creative set new high standards for bookselling, including exciting events programmes, involvement with the community, and groundbreaking store formats.
- As bookshops become more appealing and exciting, providing a new community focus in the high street and in the shopping mall, authors will become more aware of the role of bricks-and-mortar stores as ambassadors for reading, fuelling public interest in books as a whole, a valuable function whether or not they stock your books.
- The emphasis on building your mailing list to grow your audience will continue as more authors master the many tools available to help you engage creatively with them, e.g. mailing list managers such as MailChimp and systems to help you reward your readers with free samples and loss leaders, such as BookFunnel.
- New genres will enter the self-publishing arena, with academic publishing tipped to be the next growth area, giving academic professionals a valuable and viable alternative to the old-style university presses, increasingly risk-averse and disrespectful of their authors, who have until now not realised there was another way.
- Readers will expect to be able to connect more with authors and to get to know them online, recognising that there are real and interesting human beings behind the great books they've been enjoying for years! Readers will be surprised and feel shortchanged if they discover their favourite authors don't have websites or Twitter accounts to allow more engagement, in the same way that their favourite musicians and actors do.
- More small festivals and stand-up style events will emerge around the world, providing easier opportunities for readers to engage with authors, and providing authors with valuable ways to connect with readers in real life.
- The range of services available to authors will continue to grow, but many will either fold or merge or be acquired by larger organisations to remain sustainable and visible amidst the throng of offerings for authors.
- Amazon will continue to evolve, trying to remain one jump ahead of the rest of the industry and not standing still. While their experiments with physical bookstores may not lead to a wider presence on the high street, news that they're setting up their own distribution service to replace third party couriers suggests a need to cut costs and increase efficiency and control across the business, themes that may manifest themselves in other ways that affect self-publishing authors e.g. royalty systems.
- More trade-published authors will move across to self-publishing, at least in part, e.g. for their backlist, as they realise that the Emperors of Trade Publishing have no clothes: when they can see so many indie authors happy and thriving, more of them will want to move away from restrictive low-paid contracts and lack of control to take charge of their own writing futures.
- The word self-publishing will become less used and become less relevant as the boundaries blur. The media will eventually latch on to what readers already take for granted: that a good book is a good book, no matter who has published it.
Predictions or Pipe-dreams?
I'm conscious that some of these points may be wishful thinking rather than dependable fact, but I hope they give you hope and inspiration for the year ahead. And we'd love to know YOUR predictions, hopes and fears, for this year.
OVER TO YOU Feel free to join the conversation via the comments box.For #selfpub #authors - 16 predictions for 2016 by @DebbieYoungBN Click To Tweet