If 2016 taught us anything, it's that predictions and polls are often wrong, but it's that time of the year when we go all futurist here at ALLi, so here goes with my predictions for the year to come, and those of some of our members below. Please add yours in the comments.
I predict that we'll see indie authors continue to grow in confidence and reach in 2017. More and more authors will recognize that while writing is a craft, publishing is a business, and set themselves to develop their skills across the seven processes of publishing, from editorial to rights sales.
They will learn to be good publishers — mastering those two skills, and everything in between like design, production, distribution, marking and promotion — in the same way they learned to be good writers: by exploring and experimenting, trying and failing, trying again and failing better.
We'll see more indies asking:
What would it take for me to run a successful author enterprise? How do I best monetize my work in a way that aligns with my commercial and creative ambitions? What tools and techniques do I need? Who do I need to hire?
This will have a number of effects:
1. More Rights Sales, In More Formats & Territories
Self-publishers will begin to thrive in areas that were traditionally thought off-limits for them, notably the selling of translation rights, TV and film rights and leading the way into new international markets for English books.
2. More Focus
We'll see more indie authors using analytics — or experience and intuition — to get a clearer understanding of how their particular readers engage with their particular work. More and more of them will add online teaching to their mix. They will spend more money on advertising but also come up with innovative pricing strategies to take their words to readers in new ways.
This will require them to focus in on what they do best and outsource the rest. We'll see the rapid rise of a job that once was a minority occupation: Author's Assistant.
3. More Audio and Video Book Promo
We’ll see a further expansion in the use of images, audio and video for book marketing and promotion. Facebook and Twitter have long been the dominant social media for authors but “bookstagram” accounts are on a rapid rise trajectory, as is Pinterest for authors. Readers and bloggers are leading the way in these visual media. As Facebook gets into audio and video, authors will start to get on board other media in far greater numbers.
And authors offering online education will show a rapid rise. Up to now, authors have concentrated on teaching other authors how to self-publish well. This year, we'll see more self-publishers recognizing that books are only one way to deliver their message and expanding into new methods and media.
4. More Cross Collaboration
On a small scale, we'll see more authors turning to each other to help promote each other’s books, as many ALLi members already do, and to give courses together, drawing on each other's readers. On a larger scale, platforms like Story Bundle that bring authors to new audiences will rapidly grow.
5. More Formats and Platforms
As more successful authors think long-term and become more business-minded, indies will be more inclined to go wide and diversify, than to limit themselves to one format on one sales outlet. Amazon will continue to dominate market share, with Kindle Unlimited the foremost (if not the only) subscription platform. I predict they may also get into self-published music and video, though perhaps not this year, as estimates indicate they're now investing over $3 billion a year on streaming video content have recently launched a music streaming service. They will open more brick stores and keep coming up with more great ideas.
Other providers, notably IngramSpark, Kobo, Apple and Google, and good distributors who reach out into the wider world, like Draft2Digital, will nonetheless continue to see growth too, especially beyond the US.
ALLi Authors & Advisors Predict…
- Massive rise in audiobook listening/sales because of Amazon Echo (Alexa) and Google Home which make it very easy to listen around your house – it has already become a fixture at our place and Alexa was the Amazon massive seller this year. I am getting more audio sorted ASAP(b) following on from that, more audio distribution options which means I won't be going exclusive with ACX
- Premium print will become a much bigger thing as POD becomes more versatile – so think about hardbacks, special editions and other collector type items for the real fans – while ebooks continue to be the main income source for indies
- More machine-learned/applied AI tools for discoverability and creation of written word products – this will help with the huge amounts of content
An exciting year ahead!
It gets more difficult to get visible without substantial marketing budgets. KU continues to be a powerhouse and a valuable marketing tactic (especially for newer authors who do not yet have a following). KU bans boxsets. Kobo continues to grow (their promotions are invaluable for indie visibility on that store). B&N sales will continue to decline, predominantly due to their terrible end-user experience. GooglePlay's share of the market increases. No change for iBooks unless they open up the ability to submit titles to their sudden promotions.
Facebook is adding audio so I think we will see a lot of authors doing reading and excerpts from their books and using it as a positive way to inexpensively promote. Also I see more indie bookstores like mine (PJ Boox) bringing indies to the masses. I feel like this will be a very good year for us!
I'd love to see greater breakthrough of indie authors at big events not talking about self-publishing, but I don't think that will happen quite yet. I'd also love to see more openness from the big prizes, but again I think that's more than a year off.
In short, I have a wish list but my prediction is that it will be a “consolidation” year.
- Amazon print publishing direct from the KDP dashboard will replace CreateSpace.
- The Chinese ebook market will show huge growth
- Ingram Spark will make its mark in Europe BUT preparation for Brexit will create business chaos for UK publishers and self-publishers across UK/European borders, especially re printing and distributing books.
- ALLi will replace [organizations like] The Society of Authors as top go-to for author advice (that's a cheat – it's already happened )