10 Publishing Trends for 2017

Another year is upon us. We all have a new “to-do” list, a new set of goals, and new adventures awaiting our arrival. Thanks to our friends at Written Word Media, they are making this year a little bit easier on us already. They have compiled a Top 10 publishing trend list for 2017 and I have to say, they are spot on. Take a look at the list below for things you should be looking out for to make this year your most successful yet.

2017

  1. Fiction sales are driven by e-books. The large majority of adult book sales are digital, especially for fiction. So, if that’s the genre you write in you will want to focus most of your marketing power there.
  2. Indie authors and small presses will keep growing. It’s no secret that the “Big 5″‘s market share continues to drop year after year. But, it’s encouraging to know that over 50% of the market share is made up of small presses, indie authors, and Amazon imprints. The good news is that you can drive your own success this year. The bad news is that simply pricing your e-books low won’t alone garner yourself a readership. With all indie authors and small presses pricing their books low nowadays, marketing and visibility is really going to be key this year.
  3. Amazon imprints are dominating. I am getting more and more requests from my authors to submit their work to Amazon imprints. In fact, for many of them it’s the only publisher they would be willing to sign with and I don’t necessarily blame them. In 2016, 7 out of the 10 Kindle bestsellers were from Amazon imprints. If you can’t actually be published by them, Written Word makes a good suggestion- market your books with theirs since they give their own books preferential marketing spots.
  4. Kindle Unlimited will keep expanding. More and more readers are seeing the benefit of the Kindle Unlimited program and Amazon markets the program tirelessly. This will likely affect single unit e-book sales and force more authors to become a part of the program.
  5. Crowding is changing the game. One of the benefits of digital publishing and digital bookstores is that there is endless bookshelf space. Your book can sit up on that “shelf” as long as you want it to. Now, new books not only need to compete with other new books, but with older ones as well. If you have successful backlist books, don’t neglect them- redesign the covers, write new summaries/blurbs, get new reviews, and focus some new marketing dollars/strategies on them too. The more books you have available and easily accessible, the most chances you have at succeeding in a vast e-book world.
  6. Audiobooks will only get more popular. If I haven’t told you this enough already, I will say it again- the audiobook market is continually growing every year. You should always try to make your books available in as many formats as possible.
  7. Marketing will determine success. If you don’t market, then you can’t expect to succeed. The digital age is making it easier than ever for the average person to effectively market their own books. E-mail marketing has always been a popular and effective marketing tool. Also, websites such as BookBub, Freebooksy, and Bargain Booksy are excellent tools as well.
  8. Facebook ads will decline. Facebook ads have become extremely popular in 2016. Their popularity and higher demand has led to higher costs for these ads, which in turn hurts your return on investment. Don’t be afraid to try other advertisement tools this year as well, like Amazon ads.
  9. International audiences are a great place to focus for growth. A great way to expand your audience this year is to reach out to international markets as we are seeing an increased involvement in their readers year after year. International rights can be scary waters to navigate, but the potential is well worth it. There are so many readers outside the US and UK, it would be a shame to not tap into those resources.
  10. Authors will continue to help each other. There is very little in life that can done alone. We are seeing more and more authors banding together and that won’t slow down in 2017. Many authors are starting to co-write books or create box sets together. It also warms my heart to see an author blasting their own social media sites for another author friend. Work on expanding and creating an author support system for yourself this year. After all, we are all in this together.

Here’s to another crazy, but successful, year. Write on!

The Success of Content

The more content there is out in the world and the more accessible it becomes, the more people will read or listen to that content. This is true with the audiobook industry. In a January 10th article, Marketwired published some interesting results about library trends for 2016. When I worked directly in the audio publishing world, I constantly saw the rise and power of the library. As more audiobooks were becoming available to them and the more they made those audiobooks accessible to their patrons via electronic borrowing  sites, the more sales increased weekly, monthly, and yearly. Now, as a literary agent I continue to see the rise of these sales within libraries and their borrowing sites and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to stop any time soon.

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In 2016, there was a huge increase in borrowed audiobooks thanks to digital sites like Overdrive. There was a 34% increase in audiobooks borrowed from local and school libraries’ digital catalogs compared to 2015. The growth is attributed to many things- an increase in digital bookclubs hosted by librares, more people listening to audiobooks (which jumped 67% on Overdrive), more young adult readers using library services, and an increased participation from international and multi-language readers.

The most popular library borrowed audiobooks for 2016 were:

  1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  2. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Keep writing, because people are reading. Keep creating audiobooks, because people are listening.

Write on.

The Path to Children’s Publishing

Children and Young Adult literature is one of the toughest genres to write, and most importantly, succeed in. The interests quickly change, the audience is smaller and more direct, and the ideas/concepts addressed really need to be engaging (I’m talking out-of-the-box extraordinary here) for it to catch the eye of a young reader. With the technology available to children today, a book really needs to scream “PICK ME UP!” for children to put all other things aside and choose to read on their own free time.

Children publishers certainly know this too. Selling a manuscript to them is only welcomed with more challenges these days. Editors aren’t looking for ‘good’ content anymore, they are looking for the next ‘big thing’and won’t settle for anything less.

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Scholastic is the King of children’s publishing. Every children/young adult author dreams of seeing their name listed on their website. That’s why I was pretty thrilled to see an article this morning about their predictions for 2017:

Hot titles will focus on kindness. It seems like everywhere we turn in 2016 the media is filled with bad news- stories of bullying, hatred, and lack of acceptance. Scholastic editors hope that through literature, maybe we can show our youth that the world isn’t really all bad and that just maybe literature can be that one thing that bring us all together under one common roof.

-The year of big book anniversaries. 2017 will host a handful of really exciting book anniversaries that will bring these modern classic to the forefront once again- good content never gets old. These anniversaries to watch out for are the 30th anniversary of The Magic School Bus, the 25th anniversary of Goosebumps, the 20th anniversary of Captain Underpants, and the 10th anniversary of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. 

-Children still want to laugh. Children seek out literature to laugh and escape reality for a bit, one of the may lessons us adults can learn from our children.

-Research is more important than ever. With more and more ludicrous information becoming available on the internet, editors are interested in teaching children to discern fact from fiction. Non-fiction titles will have a crucial role in this in 2017.

-Classics will be reimagined. Old tales will be retold in ways we have never seen them before. Keeping up with children’s imaginations is easier said than done.

Keep on writing, so our children can keep on reading.

A Bright Future for 2017

I cannot believe how quickly 2017 is approaching! I feel like I was just basking in the summer sun, toes buried in the sand, watching the ocean waves roll in. Or maybe that was just last nights dream? Either way, 2017 will be here before we know it- literally. This morning, I was browsing through some recent publishing deals and let me tell you, 2017 is going to be an awesome year. We are leaving behind one successful publishing year and rolling seamlessly into another one. Below are a few of my favorite books to look out for in the new year by major publishers:

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THE BAD MOOD AND THE STICK by Lemony Snicket, with art by Matthew Forsythe (Little, Brown Children’s) to be published in Fall 2017.

THANK YOU FOR COMING TO HATTIESBURG by comedian/actor Todd Barry- a memoir/travelogue (Gallery) to be published in March 2017.

SWEET  BABY JAMES: A POP-UP LULLABY by singer/songwriter James Taylor- a three dimensional picture book with scenes that bring the lyrics to this popular song to life (Blue Rider Press) to be published Fall 2017.

TEAMMATE by  David Ross, former Chicago cubs catcher (Hachette Books) to be published May 2017.

NO MIDDLE NAME: THE COMPLETE JACK REACHER SHORT STORIES by Lee Child- which will include all Jack Reacher short stories and a new novella (Ballantine Bantam Dell) to be published in May 2017.

WHO THOUGHT THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA: AND OTHER QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD HAVE ANSWERS TO WHEN YOU WORK IN THE WHITE HOUSE by Alyssa Mastromonaco, former Obama White House deputy chief of staff for operations (Twelve) to be published in March 2017.

In order to keep on writing, we need to keep on reading.

 

The Wrap on Audio 2016

Believe it or not, 2016 is coming to a close- the perfect time to reflect on successful audiobooks.

Audible recently listed the 20 highest rated audio books of 2016 (highest rated does not necessarily mean highest sales for this list). Audible determined their 20 highest rated titles by looking at audiobooks with at least 500 customer ratings and 150 reviews.

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Some notable books are: 

(Pick a couple you like and give them a listen, make it a fun New Year’s resolution!)

1) Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah, narrated by the author

2) The Magnolia Story by Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines, narrated by the authors

3) Reign of Madness: King’s Dark Tidings, Book 2 by Kel Kade, narrated by Nick Podehl

4) Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the creator of Nike by Phil Knight, narrated by Norbert Leo Butz and the author

5) Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial by Rabia Chaudry, narrated by the author

6) A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, narrated by Jennifer Ikeda

7) Digging Up Mother: A Love Story by Doug Stanhope, narrated by the author

8) Morning Star: Book III of the Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown, narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds

9) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, narrated by Thandie Newton

10) #AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness by Gary Vaynerchuk, narrated by the author, Jack Welch, and Dave Ramsey

11) Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War II Japan by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, narrated by Bill O’Reilly and Robert Petkoff

12) The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne, narrated by Luke Daniels

13) The Silver Thief: The Cycle of Galand, Book 2 by Edward W. Robertson, narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds

14) The Beast: A Novel of the Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward, narrated by Jim Frangione

15) Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party by Dinesh D’Souza, narrated by James Foster

16) Tattered Remnants: Zombie Fallout 9 by Mary Tufo, narrated by Sean Runnette

17) Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas, narrated by Elizabeth Evans

18) Small Great Things: A Novel by Jodi Picoult, narrated by Audra McDonald, Cassandra Campbell, and Ari Fliakos

19) The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by Michael Kramer

20) The Wrong Side of Goodbye: A Harry Bosch Novel, Book 21 by Michael Connelly, narrated by Titus Welliver

The bestselling audiobook on Audible this year was The Girl on the Train. The bestselling children’s audiobook was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The best selling non-fiction book was The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.

The best news of all is that Audible members increased their listening hours by 1 billion between 2014 and 2016.

Keep on writing, and keep on making audiobooks… because people are listening.

We’re All A Little Crazy

Writing is one of the craziest things. Yes, I said it. It’s crazy! On the surface it seems like such a relaxing and simple task, but really it’s so much more than that. I think there’s a small part in all of us who wants to be a “writer.” We all have thousands of thoughts that run through out minds on a daily basis, we all have that one awesome book idea, and we all think that what we have to say is way more important than the person sitting next to us. The truth is, writing isn’t for everyone. Not everyone is meant to be a writer. To be a true writer you have to be a special kind of person. A writer needs to be patient, but driven. Self-disciplined, but connected to the outer world. A multi-tasker, but focused. Flexible, but determined. Creative, but conformed. Writing pulls you in so many different directions in the course of just one page, one paragraph, one sentence which makes it one of the most unpredictable careers or hobbies out there.

I started to think about just how crazy writing is this morning when I came across an article in The Huffington Post titled ‘5 Things You Need To Know About Writing Before Becoming A Writer.’ It really put the whole process in a clear perspective that made me stop to think about the mental stability of us all. Why do we do it? Writing seems harmless and fun but when you start to peel back the layers, it’s way more than you can ever imagine.

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My brain is whizzing at about 1,000 miles per hour about these ‘5 Things To Know,’ so here we go:

Writing is difficult. To do it effectively, it’s probably one of the most difficult things you will ever do. And guess what? It never gets easier. Every time you sit down to write even just a few simple words, you may feel like you have been hit in the face with 1,000 bricks. I know this because today is one of those days. And last week was too. And the month before that. Every time I sit down to write a quick blog post, nothing profound, nothing revolutionary, it’s like pulling teeth. Yes, some days the words come out easier than others, but I would never say the process in general was ‘easy.’ You always second guess your opening sentence or your last word. You always struggle to find that one word that truly describes how you feel or want your readers to feel. You always wonder if you could say more or if you should of said less. I also know writing is difficult because I can think of hundreds of others things I rather be doing right now- like laundry, mopping the floors, or washing dishes. And I never want to do those things.

  1. Throw Out All The Rules. In school we were all taught the basics of grammar and the ‘right’ way to construct a sentence, essay, or research paper. As we grew into our own writing and found our ‘spot’, our genre, we were introduced to a whole new set of rules. What you can and can’t write about. How the story is supposed to end. What types of characters you should create. Which surprises you are allowed to throw into your writing, and which ones you should leave out. What a writer really needs to do is ignore everything they have ever learned, which is much easier said than done. To set your writing a part, it needs to dabble outside the mainstream. It needs to say, ‘HEY, LOOK AT ME!’ But every time you misplace a word, use informal language, adopt a risky tone, or create a controversial character your heart will skip a beat. You will have every urge to erase the whole damn thing because you just read an article about how a romance isn’t supposed to end that way. And it will take every ounce of courage to carry on.
  2. Writer’s Block Will Happen. And when it does it will be one of the scariest and most frustrating moments of your life. You will start to second guess everything you have ever written. You will start to wonder if you are even cut out for the job. You will have an urge to keep writing and the words that are coming out will be complete garbage. And you will know it too. This is when there is literally only one thing you can do- stop. You need to stop. You need to throw that self-discipline into high gear and force yourself to walk away. You might just need a few minutes, you might need a few hours, or you might need to come back to it tomorrow.  But don’t fall victim to losing some of your best work because of ‘the block.’
  3. Writing Doesn’t Work Around Your Schedule. You might plan out the most perfect day. A quick morning run, a nice hot shower, followed by a few productive hours of writing with a few delicious cups of coffee by your side, then a healthy lunch at the cafe down the street and quite stroll through the park, with a few more productive hours of writing under a beautiful willow tree. I hope you get those days, I really do. But it won’t always work out the way you want it to- I can promise you that. The words might be get stuck in some far away galaxy that morning and finally make it down to Earth half way through that veggie wrap. You might need to push all those healthy habits aside right then and there. When creativity strikes you need to pull out that laptop or notepad and let the words dictate when you will write them. Flexibility is key.
  4. It’s Extremely Satisfying. Through all the craziness you need to keep your eye on the prize- the finished product. To form the perfect sentence, to create a realistic world out of white paper, or to finally choose that last word is a feeling that cannot be described, only experienced. Everything you said you ever hated about your writing and every time you said you were going to quit will simply disappear as if it never existed. You may even feel like a completely different person, completely misled or fooled… until the next time you sit in front of  a blank page.
  5. It’s A Window To Connecting With People. Although the process of writing is personal and intimate, once finished your writing reaches complete strangers. There are going to many people who could care less about what you wrote, but there will be others who stopped in their tracks all because of the words that you strung together. You might inspire them, you might change their perspective, or you just might simply entertain them for a few hours. Talk about pressure, huh? The beautiful thing about this connection is that you can’t force it. It’s either going to be there or it won’t. So don’t overthink it. Your natural words will connect you to someone, somewhere better than anything else.

Yes, writing is crazy. Write on.