Happy New Year! Here are ALLi's predictions based on emerging trends we've seen. Please adds yours in the comments below.
One prediction I've made every year since ALLi was founded in 2012 is that we will see more authors entering the self-publishing space. And that indie authors will continue to grow in confidence and blaze new trails. That trend will, I believe, be more evident than ever in 2018.
Less Kindle GoldRush, More Sustainable Enterprise
PREDICTION: More authors will settle in for the long haul.
More and more authors will embrace the craft and trade of publishing and business as well as that of writing, and develop sustainable author businesses that allow them to make a living from their writing. At the heart of this will be working out their offering to readers and how to build a community around that offering.
There will be a move from spending money on ads to getting a clearer understanding of how their particular readers engage with their particular work.
What that means for you: Work out a long-term plan in which you diversify and grow steadily, year on year. Why should readers read you? What do you need to do to make them care? What sort of community can you build?
More Change, More Technology
PREDICTION: Authors who are unwilling to embrace technology, examine their process and change their mindsets will be left behind.
Digital text, books and media are currently being re-imagined in ways that are likely to have a big impact on authors and author earnings in the years ahead. 2018 will be the turning point, as Self-Publishing 3 moves into author consciousness. Authors who do not understand or engage with technology are unlikely to succeed.
What it means for you: Since publishing went digital, authors have been in the technology business. If you are resistant to tech, get some help or training so you can do what you need to do and commission assistance with authority.
Authors Move Beyond The Book
PREDICTION: We will see more authors engaging with more formats and different kinds of writing.
In the past, a book was the most authoritative format, but in a world where anyone can publish one, that is changing. Also, the profit margin on a book is tiny, but, as readers become more used to purchasing online, the potential for other ways of earning money from words increases.
Taken together, this means that for authors, their website is their most valuable asset. A static brochure website is not enough anymore, your site needs to be a great read in itself, and also to give your readers a sense of what they'll get if they buy your books, other products or services.
More authors will diversify. Books will sit at the heart of their mix, as they get involved in the burgeoning fields of TV and film writing and tie that in with their books, or add online teaching, consultancy or other services to their mix of income streams.
What it means for you: Think about other ways to monetize your writing, and be more creative about how you will make money from your words.
Growth In Interactive and Collaborative Fiction
PREDICTION: Fiction forms will mutate, and become more collaborative, as novelists get creative about reader engagement
In the early days of Apple’s iPad, there was a lot of hype about the potential for interactive book apps. When readers failed to get excited, the hype faded, but work has continued in this arena and a number of developers, publishers and authors are doing very interesting work and readers are now beginning to take notice.
What it means for you: If you write fiction, think about ways you can augment the reading experience. Get educated about technology for creating immersive ereading experiences. For example, in J. A. Konrath’s interactive puzzle books, readers solve the crimes and try to stop a serial killer. Or be inspired by these examples from The Guardian.
Growth In Author Assistance, Human and Virtual
PREDICTION: More authors will work out how to hire more help.
When we think of author assistance we tend to think of administrative tasks, like research, setting up interviews or video/audio, formatting, social media, but we will see a growing band of smart authors using assistance to provide support and motivation, filtering out distractions, setting of creative intentions and accountability processes.
Most authors already use virtual assistance in the form of apps and tools (see here, here and here). As every major tech company develops their Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant, virtual assistance will expand.
What it means for you: Whether it's an app, robot or person, you need to be clear about your needs. Once you have written and published three books, what you should outsource is probably your most important question.
Blockchain Technology Will Attract Interest
PREDICTION: More pioneering authors will take to the blockchain
Blockchain, the technology that underlies cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, also has enormous implications for authors and publishers. Blockchain tech is not perfect and is not fully established yet, but the way it registers and distributes information eliminates the need for a third party to facilitate digital relationships. The consequences of this breakthrough for authors are hard to overstate.
In 2017, ALLi Partner Member Publica was one platform that began to seriously work on a blockchain model for books. ALLi is currently running a campaign Blockchain for Books and our committee will report back in a White Paper. Could we be on the point of developing a creator-led financial model for the first time in recorded history? Stay tuned.
What It Means For You: Blockchain will be no more useful than any other technology if authors don't adopt the right mindset. That you are the creative director of your book and you deserve to be first in line for payment. Get informed and, even more important, develop the indie mindset.
Keep A Watch On Wattpad
PREDICTION: Wattpad Will Continue To Inspire.
Wattpad has been rapidly expanding its business, in interesting ways, including a fiction-chat app, Tap; a standalone app for romance stories; and a newly launched video personal-story app called Raccoon, as well as a subscription reading model.
At the end of last year, it launched its Wattpad Studios division and now a deal with Toronto-based eOne will source fan fiction from Wattpad to develop into original TV, movie and VR projects.
Wattpad provides authors with a Writer Analytics Dashboard, offering such data as the number of unique readers by chapter, number of reader votes by chapter, and the ages and locations of readers. It would be wonderful if all services, including Amazon, could provide authors with this data, but I'm not predicting that's going to happen any time soon.
What It Means For You: Since ALLi launched, Wattpad has been the most dynamic service in the author space. Watch what they do and think about how you can adapt their ideas to your own business.
And finally, just to say that ALLi will continue to advocate for, and do what we can to help create, more opportunities and a more author-centric financial model going forward, one which maximizes the value of the authors’ moral and monetary rights and intellectual property.
What about you? What do you think we'll see happening in the indie author space in 2018.Indie #authors - what will 2018 bring for you? @OrnaRoss offers insights, advice & inspiration via @indieauthoralli Click To Tweet
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Thanks for the advice, Orna!
Thanks for this Orna. I am an early adopter with all things technological and appreciate your bringing these things to our attention. You are right that a dynamic approach to technology and change will be necessary as we move into the future as authors. I am excited about Virtual Reality and even more so since using the VR sets my nieces had for Christmas. My immediate thought was how these could be used and adapted for my crime books, and my YA Mysteries. I would love to be involved in the adaptation of these, sooner rather than later. The future is exciting. Thank you for all you and ALLi do for Indie authors.
I am as technical as I’m going to get -I don’t think I’ll be left behind as I have an established reader base. You don”t mention the saturation of the market – double the amount of e-books on Amazon and KOL which has had a huge impact on earnings. Books being published will keep growing faster than than readers. I’m glad I got a foothold four years as I wouldn’t have a hope today.
The authors that succeed will be the ones who can embrace the new technology.
I’m intrigued by the cyclical nature of things. When I started life as an indie in 2008/9 it was via interactive fiction and an indie author co-op. I think what we’re witnessing is the classic Gartner Hype Curve, and only now are we on the final upward push to maturity.
I am still bouncing up and down in my seat about Magic Leap. We are definitely finally at a time where enhanced and virtual reality are catching up tech-wise with our artistic imaginings and that’s very exciting.
Delighted to see Wattpad get a full mention – I absolutely agree they have been at the cutting edge for a long time now in terms of engaging readers and encouraging writers to experiment.