We have left 2017 behind us, and are already rubbing our hands in anticipation of what sweet 2018 has to offer us authors and writers. Will this be the year everyone is going into indie- or self publishing, or will we all go back to basics? Do people still want to read eBooks, or do they prefer the smell of fresh pages and the sound of a cracking spine in 2018?

Our team sat together, and we researched 10 trends in publishing that will impact indie-authors in particular, with great guidelines on how you can navigate these trends.

1. Indie authors will continue to grow ebook share

 

Indie authors will continue to grow their share in eBook shares as traditional publishers keep the prices of their eBooks above market value. Traditional publishers will also keep focussing on physical books and exploring audiobooks.

As indie-authors price their books competitors and are able to fill in niche voids – something a blockbuster book will not be able to do, they will grow their share of eBook sales.

One of the genres we see coming back is sci fi and fantasy romance. Contemporary romance will keep doing well, but with recent romance best sellers not being your typical chick flick or woman’s fiction, we see other romance genres claiming their spot in the best-seller limelight.

What this means for you:

This means that you need to keep doing what you are doing! As an indie author you have an edge on traditional publishers in both genre and pricing – especially with the ability to run short term promotions on your titles. As an indie-author you will also be able write – and sell big, in genres that are considered too niche for traditional publishers. Try to figure out who your audience is and where you are positioned in your niche. Don’t forget to choose a professional cover that fits into this genre and niche to make your book look more professional and attractive to readers that would normally read traditionally published books – but are now looking for something new and exciting.

2. Marketing will become more expensive

 

It is no secret that Facebook and Google are incredibly expensive to run advertising. With Price Per Purchase costs running from $60 to $10, it does not seem like these platforms are a good fit for single title indie-authors in 2018.

As an author who writes series, you might still have a future advertising on social media, but your return of investment will be thinner.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen the same trend on Amazon advertising. More and more authors are flocking to Amazon’s inhouse advertising system which means the Cost Per Click and thus Purchase is increasing with many authors competing for advertisement space.

One of the biggest challenges for authors will be to find new and unique marketing tools that are cost and time efficient.

What this means for you:

Authors with many books on their conto will have an edge on authors with only a few as they are able to spread the marketing costs over multiple titles. If you are an established author, you might want to look into getting a marketing assistance for advertising directly on readers and blogger’s blogs – if you are a smaller author book blog tours and outreach will be a great and cost effective fit.

3. Email Marketing will decline

 

Where in 2017 authors were seen flocking towards email marketing due to the constant decline in organic Facebook reach and the new YouTube algorithms, we are predicting a steep decline in ROI for email marketing.

We have seen and lead many group-giveaways and email list swaps, and have seen a very aggressive use of email newsletters throughout the year. However, this will also mean that your subscribers and readers receive multiple emails per week from god-knows-how-many authors in their mailbox. They have grown tired of newsletters and we have seen an increase of unsubscribes and unopened newsletters throughout the months of November and December.

Authors are now stuck between the ever rising costs and diminishing returns of platforms such as Facebook, Google and Amazon, while more and more people unsubscribe from their mailing lists and leave emails unopened in their mailbox.

What does this mean for you:

We have been advising our authors to use plain text newsletter – to be more personal towards their readers and use a minimum of pictures and links. We have seen an increase in both opens and click throughs while unsubscribes declined.

It seems as if people want more personal and direct communication with the authors they read. This means that you should keep things simple, nice and totally YOU. Only send out emails with compelling information you KNOW your fans will 100% want to read.

4. Authors are going ‘Direct To Reader’

 

We predict a lot of authors will want to cut out the middle man due to the ever rising cost of marketing and advertising. Authors will want to set up their own shops or collaborate on shops where they do not have to pay a 35-70% commission on their sales. This way they can increase their return of investment when selling via advertisement platforms and build their own customer database without having to depend on the Amazon algorithms. Authors will use exclusive content to get their readers and fans to buy from these platforms.

Research has shown that readers are willing to pay for exclusive content, and this will not change in 2018.

What does this mean for you:

Authors that are currently hosting their own website might want to look at selling books from their own website instead of linking through to Amazon or Kobo. You won’t have to pay any commissions to these shops and you will be able to sell exclusive content and merchandising to your fans and readers. When having your own shop, social media advertising makes more sense due to the increased ROI and the fact you will be able to use the Facebook Pixel to target customers and fans that have visited your website with hyper personalised advertising.

5. Growth of the Audiobook Market

 

Looking back at 2017, we can see that audiobooks were the fastest growing segment in the publishing industry. Even more: traditional publishers made good the losses they suffered in eBooks with Audiobooks.

But what will happen in 2018? We have seen a lot new players in the field of Audiobooks in 2017. Audiobooks.com was acquired by a media company and the exclusivity agreement between Audible and Apple ended and Kobo has launched its own Audiobook subscription services at the end of 2017. This means there is room for new and existing players in the field – especially since Audible is considered expensive at £7.99 for one audiobook.  In 2018 we predict indie-authors will capitalise on this explosive growth and the wide distribution of audiobooks.

What does this mean for you:

We know: producing an audiobook can easily run into the thousands of dollars – or you will need to work with a royalty scheme that will leave you with little to no money for each audio book sold.

New authors with only a few books in their catalogue should focus on publishing more books, while more established authors looking to invest into their publishing business might benefit from looking into eBooks. We should keep looking at audiobook retailers and support those who are author-friendly.

6. Amazon’s Affiliate Program will continue to be less generous

 

In 2017, Amazon reworked their affiliate program, which meant that affiliates received less money for the sales their referrals brought to the website. Now what does this mean for you?

A lot! A lot of book bloggers and promotional sites get 95% of their earnings from the Amazon affiliate program. More and more book bloggers are now asking a fee for their services or they are simply rejecting eBooks in favour for physical books.

We can see this trend running into 2018 which might mean authors are able to collaborate with less bloggers and promotional sites might shut down due to high running costs and little to no earnings.

What does this mean for you:

If you have any bloggers you work with or that have always supported you, 2018 might be a good time to send a little donation their way or to buy some advertising space on their website.  Authors and bloggers live in a mutual beneficial ecosystem and both parties should start to see this as a you-scratch-my-back-I-scratch-yours relationship – especially when the author is sending out eBooks which does not cost the author a dime.

If you are using paid promotional websites, you might want to hold tight for a price increase as they will try to supplement the affiliate earnings they have lost.

7. There will still be Amazon Scammers (sorry)

 

In 2017, Amazon tried to clam down on the black hat scammer that tried to work the Amazon search engine to earn some bucks through Kindle Unlimited. Some of these scammers worked their way up to the ranks, tricking thousands of people into buying their fake books.

This has been a great frustration for indie-authors, but as Amazon tried to punish these crooks by stripping their books of their ranks, they also hit some real indie authors hard.

There are numerous stories of established indie authors that saw their kindle sales drop with 95% overnight due to the new Amazon algorithm and scam-patrol.

Since the Amazon search engine is fairly new, it does not have the finesse nor trained artificial intelligence Google has. This is why – at least for the foreseeable future, scammers will still be a part of life as an Amazon author.

What will this mean for you:

Most authors do not care about scammers – until Amazon strips their books of their ranking. Authors have asked for a transparent and speedy exoneration in cases of false rank stripping. It is still not sure if Amazon will actually listen.

This is why it is important that you try and build a community and customers outside of Amazon – like your own web shop on your website. Try and get educated on rank stripping in case this might happen to you.

8. New subscription services will pop up – but KU will still top the charts

 

Kindle Unlimited will stay the largest online book subscription service. That is something that will definitely not change in 2018. However, other services might be nibbling at the giant’s toes. Kobo has launched their own subscription service at the end of 2017, and after some bumps in the road it seems as Scribd is now a player to keep an eye on.

Apple and Google currently do not have a subscription model for books, but their experience in subscription services for music gives them one up on their competitors.

More authors will choose to opt into the Kindle Unlimited scheme. Yes, the scheme is quite harsh – exclusivity and payout based on a pool, but a lot of authors make most of their money through Kindle Unlimited which makes the scheme hard to resist.

What does this mean for you:

If you are currently thinking about de-encolling in KDP select, I would advise you to wait until there is a better alternative, especially if you do not see a lot of sales on your dashboard.

I would, however, keep an eye on KU’s competition as they might grow to be a worthy contestant. Worthy enough for your books.

9. More and more indie authors will be successful

 

It is not a secret that indie publishing is on the rise. The number of authors that earned $100.000 or more through their writing grew with 70% in 2017, and the authors earning between $5000 and $10.000 per month with just their writing doubled.

Independent authors who choose to persevere and to put out books steadily increase their earnings considerably. No, it is not an easy thing to do, and it takes a lot of time and effort – but there are a lot of self-published and indie authors out there that are making a lot of money.

What does this mean for you:

If you want to be a successful indie author, you need to start seeing yourself as an entrepreneur selling a product. Many successful self-published authors work 14 hours a day, managing the ups and downs of their company. Think about what your goals are and what you need to do to hit those goals. Are you writing just for fun and not for money? Than this might not be for you. Are you writing to supplement your income? Try to do some marketing. Are you making your full-time job out of writing? Put your game-face on. Align your efforts with your goals and you will be sure to reap the fruits of your hard work.

10. eBooks will not die out

 

People will still buy eBooks. And actually, Smashwords has discovered that $4.99 is a new sweet spot for eBooks, together with 0.99, 0.99 and 2.99.

People who have built a loyal following even noticed that putting up the price of their book does not affect sales negatively. We will indeed see graphics of declining eBook sales – but we need to keep in mind that most of these graphics are incomplete as the only focus on traditional publisher’s eBooks. These graphics exclude self-published authors.

What does this mean for you:

Do not be disheartened by all the eBook decline fearmongering. eBooks are not on the out – even more, they have never been more on the in. As an author, focus on your writing instead. Make sure you have a good, big catalogue of books and hit your personal and writing goals with the new-found fervour 2018 had brought you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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