Every year I challenge myself to predict the publishing landscape for the year ahead. And every year I’ve been too cosy, too focussed on my own little world, and so, I never get anything right. And yes, you do hear some frustration there.
So let’s go a bit broader. I’ve already discussed lending libraries/book subscription services and how I think Kindle Unlimited will lead to a short story bonanza. But ebooks have also encouraged a lot of longer length work. The reason being that the cost of printing paper pages is no longer constricting word count. Both short and epic length books will hold a place in the book market. How authors make money at the different lengths is one of the many challenges of 2015.
Jeff Bezos, Mr Amazon, is on record as saying he wants to drive down the price of books. This will make them “more accessible”.
But I’m ignoring Bezos in favour of Amazon’s algorithms. They fascinate me. The thing is, they’re both a tool of discoverability and an assessment of authors’ activities. Yes, the algorithms are skewed to Amazon’s purposes, but they’re also about matching what readers want with what authors supply. If my books are low in the ranking, I’m not supplying what readers want – as much as I want to tantrum that it’s all the algorithms’ fault for “hiding” my books, it’s not.
There’s gold in them thar algorithms and that’s something I intend to exploit in 2015.
However, eggs in one basket is a foolish strategy. FOOLISH. Authors need to go wide. Self-publish with retailers other than Amazon. Submit to traditional publishers and work with them to push your books. Write, write, write so that you have products to sell.
Social media has been a huge distraction for years. Get over it. Yes, I’m a daily user of Facebook and Twitter, but I can tell you, it’s not moving my books. I need to be there so that when readers look, I’m present, but it is definitely not the best use of my time. My advice? Work out early (even before you start writing the book) where its audience hangs out and spend some of your rationed social media time there. Be strategic. It’s not rude, it’s smart; as long as you act with respect and according to the norms of the community you’re joining. Don’t join to use them. Join because you share their love for the sort of book you’re writing and which they read.
When it comes to considering trends in what books will be big in 2015, I’m still convinced that Coastal Romance has potential, especially with its theme of freedom. In fact, I suspect freedom in some form or other will define the key books of 2015. Millennials have expressed society’s general dissatisfaction with the status quo. Stories celebrating defeating or rejecting the system will resonate with many readers. Millennials don’t expect the system to work for them, so stories that show other paths will feed their hope.
In the end, and always, this is why I write: stories of hope keep us all going, build community and sustain our belief that we can change things for the better. Happy writing! Roll on, 2015!