Chloe of the Written Word Media published recently 10 trends in publishing that are of interest to every author – particularly Indie ones:
1. Indie authors will continue to take up a growing percentage of the market
Indie authored books are estimated to compose up to 20% of the book market. They are continuing to take share from traditional publishers, mainly due to their consumer-friendly pricing – indie titles retail at an average price of $2.99 to $3.99, while traditionally published books retail between $7.99 and $14.99.
Readers are factoring price more and more into their purchasing decision and opting for high-quality, lower-priced (usually indie) titles over the more expensive titles put out by traditional publishers. The ability of indie authors to offer their books free, either for a limited time or as an intro to a series, is another advantage indies have over traditional publishers. Free is a very powerful discovery tool and one that readers are using more and more. Traditional publishers rarely offer their books for free, so all new titles and authors that are discovered through free promotions will be indies. All this combines for a growing market share for indies.
2. Amazon cracks down on quality of content
As of February 3rd, all eBooks offered for Amazon Kindle that have been reported to include typos, formatting issues, or other mistakes that lead to a poor reader experience will be removed from Amazon until the mistakes in question have been fixed. Readers attempting to purchase a title that has been reported to contain errors will be confronted with a message stating “Item Under Review”, and you will not be able to purchase the title.
Finding a great editor and formatter for your eBook just became even more important. There are a variety of repercussions here, including the failure of a marketing plan if your book is taken down in the middle of a paid promotion.
3. Mobile internet usage continues to grow
Between 2010 and 2014 smartphone internet usage was up 392%, and that percentage is only going to continue to rise.
So, make sure your author website is mobile friendly. If your website is not mobile friendly it will be hard to navigate for up to 60% of your visitors.
4. Amazon borrows grow at the expense of sales
More readers are accessing books for “free” through the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (KOLL) and Kindle Unlimited (KU) than ever before. Fortune reports that Amazon Prime is now in 38% of American Households. Prime membership grew by 40 million members in December alone to reach an estimated 80 million people. One of the benefits of Prime membership is access to the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library that allows Amazon Prime members who read through a Kindle to choose one book from the library every month to read free.
Similarly, Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service open to both Prime and non-Prime members. When you enroll in KDP Select, your books are automatically included in both Kindle Unlimited and The Owner’s Lending Library. What this means is that as more readers join Amazon Prime and Kindle Unlimited more and more books are being “borrowed” by readers instead of being bought – something I’ve even noticed in my books.
So, if you are not enrolled in KDP Select your book sales may suffer as Amazon tends to give merchandising priority to books enrolled in KDP Select.
5. Free works as a marketing technique- especially for series
Series consisting of at least three books, in which the first book is perma-free, sold more copies overall. Also, 45%-55% of readers who download a book while it was free and read it, go on to purchase more titles by that author. These readers may go on to become fans and paying customers.
6. Email marketing is proving to be the most efficient way to drive sales
Traditional publishers and indie authors alike plan to invest time and money on reaching readers directly through email marketing in 2016. This is the most effective way to drive sales of your new titles, since you can control the message and know that you are hitting an audience that cares about your work.
There are two email marketing tactics that publishing professionals will deploy in 2016: newsletters and book promotion services. You can only send a newsletter if you have a mailing list, which is why both indies and traditional publishers are investing in building their lists. In addition to growing personal lists, publishers and indies will continue to utilize ebook promotion services that have large lists to drive book sales and revenue growth. BookBub is the largest player in the book promotion space followed by companies like Bargain Booksy and Freebooksy who are continuing to invest in and grow their lists.
So, this is a perfect time to get started on that newsletter. Mailchimp is free until your reach 2000 subscribers, so they are a great place to start managing a list.
7. Physical book sales are on the rise
Physical books sales were up in 2015, proving that readers still like the feel of a book in their hands. Many of these books are purchased on Amazon, making offering your book available through print on demand services such as CreateSpace prudent. Additionally, one segment of the reader market that remains difficult for indie authors is placement in brick and mortar stores. We recommend designing and formatting your books for eBook and print, then contacting your local book stores to see if they would like to host an author event and stock your books.
8. The International eBook market continues to grow
The international audience for eBooks is growing. The United States and Canada beat the rest of the world into the eBook trend with almost 30% of readers consuming eBooks. The United Kingdom has long been third on the list of eReading nations, but France, Germany, Italy, and Russia are seeing growth in the percentage of readers who enjoy eBooks.
So, one way to increase sales this year is to expand your distribution to include countries other than the United States and Canada. Most platforms (Kindle Direct Publishing, iTunes, Kobo) make it easy for you to distribute your book worldwide with a few clicks of your mouse. It’s time to make sure your books are available around the world.
9. Readers Cry: “More coloring books and bad boys!”:
Adult coloring books and erotic romances continue to be popular.
So, if you’re writing erotic romance, you’re going to see another good year as your genre continues to be very popular. If you’re already publishing coloring books you’re well-positioned to continue cashing in on this trend. If you’re thinking of entering the adult coloring book market, however, beware, as it is quickly becoming saturated with new players.
10. The world is starting to accept Indie Authorship as a choice
For years readers and the press assumed that the indie author was only publishing their works themselves because they couldn’t land a deal with a publishing house. They didn’t seem to understand that many authors were making the choice to stay indie, choosing to laud those who managed to “make it” into a traditional publishing deal.
As the publishing industry continues to be watched by the masses, the truth behind the numbers is coming out and readers are starting to understand that being an indie author is often the most lucrative choice. Now we just need to convince the press to pay indie authors their due. Some say it will take a major news outlet like the New York Times Book Review consistently reviewing indie titles for a full industry shift to occur. Will 2016 be that year?
Visit the Written Word Media for the full post.
Another great read, Nicholas.
Thank you! 😀
Excellent article but I do have a couple of haggles …
#5 The article recommends making the first book in a series free permanently. Nonono. The whole benefit of being an indie author is that you are not tied into long term contractual obligations. Use ‘free’ as a tool certainly. but as ‘free for a limited time’. Rinse and repeat as necessary.
It’s fairly clear that #7 happened mostly because of #9, or at least the colouring books half of it. and that doesn’t mean ebook sales are down
The jury is still out on permafree, as far as I’m concerned. I haven’t done it yet, but have been considering it for ages.
Would be interested to get your take on Kindle selling books by the pages read. The whole situation confuses me.
Well, it’s all about moving to a subscription-based model. Think music industry, with services like Spotify, that allow you to listen to as many songs as you wish for a flat monthly fee.
Another (worrying) trend I’m seeing is that trends – in terms of actual sales trends, or what’s selling right now – are leading shorter lives. By the time one marketing technique or genre spike has worked miracles for one author, it’s been overused by a hundred others and crucified by three hundred more pretenders. The jungle telegraph is working faster than ever before. So it’s good to see what others are doing in your genre before leaping in blind.
Excellent point. I think there’s a bit of a gold rush at the moment. I expect that there will be a shakeup in the coming months/years, but until then things will be rather tough.
I agree. This sort of market noise can’t continue indefinitely. How it’ll pan out is anyone’s guess. I’d say the forecasted demise of certain social media platforms, if it comes to pass, will have a lot to do with it.
We live inside a Chinese curse, it seems: interesting times…
Very helpful post today. I’m wondering about #6. I know Bookbub is the leading book promo site but didn’t know about Bargain Booksy or Freebooksy as the second and third best. Is this the latest rankings now? Does anyone here have experience with Bargain Booksy? Recommended?
I have had experience with them, but to be honest have had greater success with BookButterfly.com . Abhi is super helpful, and always brings results.
This is a thorough and informative piece, Nicholas. 🙂 — Suzanne
Thank you so much, Suzanne 🙂
I’m a reader ( and for the last couple of years a reviewer) I love self publishing – I’ve had some terrific books from amazon that are SP. Like most people my finances are tight ( that’s why I began reviewing) and I read a lot and quickly so books under £3 are a terrific find. Pre reviewing i scoured free lists daily too and point five – about series/other books written) is very true. I’ve bought complete series/other books when I’ve had a free one I love.
I joined KU recently and have found lots of books there I love – and some I hate 😉 I do wonder what the author gets from it though? fee per book or something? Amazon is my go to place, though I have bought from smashwords also.
When i bought my first kindle ( i keep wearing them out and they drive me nuts when they are slow, plus of course they get better with new versions! I’m on kindle number six now though that included one Fire for web stuff) back in 2011 I was amazed at how many free books there were but found quickly that many were simply so badly edited/formatted they were unreadable. I’ve has ones where you need to reread every other sentence to make sense of the word, ones full of so many grammar errors the sentences are just plain odd, ones where text is so faint its unreadable, and ones with maybe 3 or four sentences per page. Can you see me impatiently flipping pages to get kindle to keep up with reading speed 🙂 All those got dumped and that’s before the actual content. I think when ebooks first came out the success of a few led many would be writers to think its a gold mine and its not, its tough, hard work and if you’re going to put your name to a work, whether that’s book or some form of art then it should be the best you can produce. Time has weeded out most of that now and I find most are at least readable even if the content isn’t for me – it will be for others. Everyone wants different things to read and its the one man’s meat is another man’s poison adage.
aaannd I’ve rambled enough for a Monday. I just wanted to say Great Post!
Thank you so much for the great comment, and welcome! I think there’s still a shakeup coming, that will weed out a lot of those who think of Indie publishing as a quick way to get rich.
As for what authors get out of KU, I make as much out of KENP royalties as I do from my book sales 🙂
That’s good to hear – I love a bargain but am pleased to hear authors also get a decent deal from KU. No authors = no books, so while I want to spend minimum I also still want it to be worth it for authors.
All very interesting points, Nicholas, but my comment is about number 2. I don’t mind a few mistakes sprinkled about when reading, but I have read a few indie books that had so many mistakes it was distracting. For these authors and their readers, this is a positive step. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to put their book out there with a lot of mistakes to begin with.
Thanks for sharing this optimistic news. 🙂
A pleasure 🙂
Thank for all these interesting and enlightening infos… unfortunately until now I only published with publishing houses, I don’t know much about independent publishing, but it sound appealing. Giving all to an house, the other side of the medal is actually the royalties you get (a small % of it)… depending on how good is the publisher with the marketing. Right now I’m at my first experience with GB publishing, with the italian and swiss houses wasn’t exactly what I cherished.
Being not a full time writer… actually I prefer to be a called a citizen of the world… 🙂 I have still so much to learn, for this I think your blog is a great source of informations. Thank you Nicholas…
A pleasure, and welcome, fellow citizen of the world 🙂
Good marketing information to know, especially about email outreach and offering free/inexpensive novella and short stories as a companion to a series-in-progress. Those seem to be a great way to maintain reader interest as they wait for the next installment to release.
–Sam Taylor, AYAP Team
I agree. Just remember that one’s man’s medicine is another man’s poison 🙂
I recently watched a news report on the resurgent market in print books. Even expensive hardback editions are on the rise again. Good to see this confirmed, in your informative list.
Best wishes, Pete.
It’s a lovely development 🙂
I’ve been wondering about #5. Recently somebody was explaining the ‘loss leader’ concept to me, which help clarify the perma-free thing. Prior to this, the idea was always introduced to me as doing it for the sake of doing it. Guess it does make more sense for a series. Though I’ve been seeing a lot of posts and articles about how ‘free’ is destroying the market. Wonder if that includes this tactic or is simply about the rise in anger toward the promise of ‘exposure’ instead of money.
I suspect it’s the latter…
Interesting stuff. I’d warn against KU though. I’m a bit pretentious and my books are not in it for ethical reasons. This year my Amazon sales are steadily climbing from risibly awful to rubbish per month – but recently I’ve been earning the same amount, again, through the combined total from Kobo, google play and iBooks. The monthly total with these others has been steadily climbing for me over the last five or six months. I think a lot of folks are having this same experience. As Amazon gets trickier for non exclusive indies, we are concentrating our efforts on other sites. Those other sites are beginning to get their act together, too and becoming more attractive to indies. So I think that in 2016 indie sales on amazon’s competitors will rise. Here’s hoping anyway.
Great comment, thank you Mary! I’m all for healthy competition (keeps everyone on their best behavior), so I hope you’re right.
This is all good news for us indies, I think! Really need to think about a newsletter, I suppose 🙂
And I need to put mine to better use! 🙂
Really enjoying your posts, they are so full of rich and useful information 🙂 another bookmarked and has reminded me I need to get in the e-newsletter game, have been considering mail chimp for a while
Yay! High praise indeed – thank you 🙂
I, too, am using MailChimp – mainly because of its great integration with websites, automation (ie you can set up emails to be sent out automatically every X ours/days/weeks) and fantastic drag-and-drop newsletter creator.
Its on my list of things to do this year in preparation for releasing my book (finally) but I wasn’t sure if you could do it with non self hosted wordpress. Just one more thing to look up.
I don’t think you can, but I haven’t tried it myself, so I could be wrong 🙂
You can Sacha. I’m not self hosted but I have one. And I have people joining it from my blog. But I haven’t sent out ano newsletters as yet. They are sent directly from mail chimp though, nothing to do with wp. The list is also held on mail chimp not wp. All you need is a link on your blog.
On it Ali. Will make that a priority whilst I’m off
Cool. Go for it, Sacha, then write us an informative blog post on it! ?
haha. GOOD IDEA!
Thanks for answering that, Ali! 🙂
Interesting. I disagree with having to join KDP Select though. When I opted out it did not decrease my sales at All. Not that I have masses of them, you understand lol! But being in KDP Select certainly did not improve them. I’d rather not be exclusive to them. Also I keep seeing authors say they are earning less since pay per page read was introduced.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Ali 🙂
Great post! Makes me want to hurry up and get out there!
Judging by the stories you’ve written, you’re already well on your way 🙂
Hmmmmm…need another coffee! Happy Sunday Mr Rossis 🙂
I’ll have a cuppa tea myself. The missus will have to make it, though, as I’ve got the wee one in my arms.
A very intersting article.
Personally, I think authors should try to emancipate themselves from Amazon a lot more. Seems to my like we’re building our own chains by relying so heavily on Amazon, which gives her ever more power upon us. Indie authors always speak of the freedom that self-publishing has given us, but the freedom that we have only because someone allows us to have it… is it really freedom?
A good point. In my view, Amazon single-handedly created the Indie market, so it has to screw up pretty badly before I turn against her. On the other hand, it will be too late by then, so I get your point 🙂
I agree. Even those of us who didn’t self-publish, Amazon kills us in “fees,” drastically reducing the royalty. But getting people to buy from other book sites isn’t easy. Amazon still dominates the market, and their power has gone to their head, IMO.
Amazon’s fees are still significantly lower than other publishers, though.
I was talking about the fees they charge to use their site. Maybe we’re talking apples and oranges. All I know is that I earn way less royalties on books sold on Amazon than any other book distributor. Hmm… Could they be charging different rates according to how you publish?
Indies get 70% of fees (as long as the book price is over $2.99), so yes 🙂
The full 70% with no extra fees taken out? Wow. I’m getting screwed even more than I thought. So my idea to self-pub some non-fiction will probably pay off. Good to know!
A lot of trad-published authors say the same thing. You can check out Peach’s Goodbye Traditional, Hello Indie 2-part series (https://mythsofthemirror.com/2016/01/15/goodbye-traditional-hello-indie-part-i/) for a great comparison between the two models.
Don’t forget, though, that you sold 200 copies on Christmas day; more than most Indies sold during the whole month of December. It’s unlikely that you could have done that as an Indie 🙂