Publishing is a big business that’s constantly evolving. While there are more opportunities than ever for authors today, writers must keep up to date on industry trends to maximize their book’s success. So what’s trending in publishing? What should authors be looking for this year and beyond? We’ve rounded up seven of the most significant publishing trends to keep your eye on.
1. Continued Rise of eBooks
Although print books are still the most popular format, more and more people are consuming digital books on devices such as Kindle, Nook, and other eReaders. Because eBooks are typically priced lower than physical books, this is a major opportunity for authors to increase sales. For indie authors, setting up your eBook is relatively simple, especially if you’re using a platform such as Amazon KDP, which walks you through the process. Also, eBooks allow authors/publishers to run steep promotions, such as free or $0.99 deals, at sites like Bookbub and other popular book promo sites. Readers who consume books quickly turn to eBooks for quick purchase, ease, and availability in subscriptions such as Kindle Unlimited, which means that authors can have many new readers at the click of a button.
2. Growing Demand for Audiobooks
Audiobooks are currently seeing skyrocketing success and are one of the highest growth areas in publishing. In fact, Publisher’s Weekly notes that audiobook sales reached $1.6 billion in 2021. Why the trend? There are many factors in play. First, like eBooks, audiobooks tend to be priced lower than print books. Also, during the pandemic, many people turned to audiobooks when stuck indoors or when learning environments turned remote. Finally, they’re an easy way to multitask—you can listen to audiobooks while driving or making dinner. Despite the rise in popularity, digital book formats might never outsell physical books, but it’s a trend authors can quickly jump on to capitalize on sales. There are many platforms for creating an audiobook, including Amazon’s ACX and Findaway Voices, which walk newbies through the process in easy-to-follow steps.
3. The Introduction of AI
One of the biggest trends is using artificial intelligence (AI) in book creation. This hot-button discussion is controversial, as some see AI as harmful to the creative community, while others welcome the advancements. Publishing is seeing AI trends in various ways, including art generation, audiobook narration, and even writing (yes, robots have the power to write books!). So, what does this mean for authors? It’s still relatively new, and publishers are exploring ways to incorporate technology into the industry. Authors should investigate and research what’s going on. If it’s for you, give it a try! If not, pass on by.
4. The Power of BookTok Grows
Like it or not, BookTok isn’t going anywhere. Its power and influence are only growing as more and more authors turn to the social media platform for a chance at “going viral.” It may seem like a long shot, but the idea is less steeped in pipe dreams than in giving authors new ways to connect with readers. The Big 5 publishing houses no longer hold all the creative control. Now, writers, readers, and creators can create marketing content and jump on trends that may increase visibility. TikTok is primarily a Gen Z platform, but that could change as more genres and audiences gain traction. Not sure it’s for you? Even if you don’t create and post your own videos, you can still browse BookTok for marketing ideas and comp titles and see what readers love.
5. A Push For Paperbacks
Spending $30 on a hardcover book is no longer feasible for many consumers. Along with the increase in paper costs, this is a primary reason readers should expect to see more paperbacks—with some books skipping the hardcover phase altogether. In addition, pricing is expected to go up across the board for all formats, making paperbacks a more appealing option for shoppers who still want to hold a physical book. It is good news for self-published authors for whom hardbacks aren’t feasible.
6. More Opportunities for Indie Authors
Indie publishing is different than what it was twenty (or even ten) years ago. There are so many more opportunities for authors to self-publish high-quality books. Platforms like Wattpad, Smashwords, Kindle Vella, and even direct sales through author websites have allowed indie authors to carve their own paths. As a result, the number of self-published books continues to rise, and with more experience comes more professional-looking indie titles than can rival traditionally-published books. There are many advantages to being a self-published author, most notably retaining complete creative control, which is why more writers are taking this route to publication. Additionally, large brick-and-mortar bookstores are finally embracing the uniqueness of indie books by catering their offerings to a broader palette—all of which is excellent news for self-published authors!
7. Continued Strive for Diversity
It’s no secret that the publishing industry has suffered from a diversity crisis for most of its existence. The call for diversity, which gained traction over recent years, will continue to grow as industry insiders seek diversification in authors, characters, and leaders. We will see a continued push for marginalized voices and a broader reading experience from what was published in the past.
Every industry must adapt to changing conditions, and publishing is no different. Authors can and should take advantage of trends—but remember, not everything is suitable for every book or author. Choose what feels like the best fit, or reach out for help if one of these trends isn’t in your wheelhouse. Don’t ignore trends simply because you’re unsure how to approach them.