As we look forward to the coming year, the self-publishing world will undoubtedly present us with a few new surprises. As self-publishers, you probably have some thoughts on this topic as well. So, I felt it was timely to take a pause to collect a few 2016 predictions from some of the pros—those experts who have a proverbial finger on the pulse of industry changes. Many of these folks you will recognize as they have served us as reliable resources for BookWorks in the past. They include marketing strategists, publishers, and bloggers, in addition to the founder of Smashwords, one of the top self-publishing platforms in the world.
Learn about their prognostications and what they had to say when asked the question, “What do you predict for the self-publishing industry in 2016?”
Websites as Point of Sale
“Even before their acquisition by Ingram this week, I would have said the big news is the evolution of Ron Martinez's retailing tools at Aer.io, which, for the first time starts to address the problem of distribution for indie authors, especially those who publish print books. Aer.io allows authors to sell direct to readers on their own site or through the social web. This will also spur authors to build their own independent platforms of readers, helping them realize real income directly from their own publishing efforts.”
Dana Lynn Smith
“In 2016 I think indie authors will continue to grow more savvy about both the publishing and marketing of their books. There are so many resources available, and the most successful authors will be those who invest the time to learn about the publishing industry and treat their books like a business. Developing a written marketing plan is an important part of that process.”
AMPing up Mobile
“The trend I predict will pick up speed — because it has really just begun — is mobile marketing. Ironically, as authors have embraced Kindle, which is a mobile platform, they have not been as quick to ensure their websites and blogs are optimized for mobile viewing. I suspect this will be a huge wakeup call in 2016. In particular, we anticipate that AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) will be implemented in February that the shockwaves from that change will reverberate from the SEO community to authors and writers, increasing their awareness of the importance to be optimized for mobile. On my own ghostwriting site, I still have some aspects that are not yet optimized for mobile, so I need to give myself a good kick in the butt, too.”
The End of the Big-Box
“I don’t have any firm predictions for 2016. I think we’ll see mostly status quo. But in the not so distant future, I think we’ll see the demise of the rest of the big box bookstores. B & N could tank this year - and this would leave a book-verse containing mostly Amazon and Indie bookstores. When the traditional distribution chain collapses, it will be like record companies losing the FM radio stations. Big publishers won’t offer much of an advantage over indie publishers if Amazon becomes the primary point of sale.
I predict we’ll see lots of innovation in the indie/open source community around eBooks and publishing models. That’s already started with things like PressBooks, Pronoun, and PubML. We’ll see the indie/self-publishing market looking for ways to differentiate quality books from “the heap,” so we’ll see more contests, book reviews, etc. and some innovation there, too. For example, you may see “book of the month club” type organizations that focus on finding the best indie books. We’ll see pathways to indie publishing that assure “legitimacy” - certifications that books are designed and edited and produced to certain standards. Whether this all happens in 2016 or before 2020, I don’t know, but this what I envision.”
“For me, one trend I’ve been seeing lately is a move towards global markets, especially among the average successful indie authors (i.e. not the famous ones, the ones who earn a living from their writing and are looking for opportunities to expand and earn more by diversifying their income streams).
However, I do think that while foreign markets will keep growing, the indie author’s enthusiasm for them should be tempered due to the complexity of translation and foreign marketing. Basically I’m wary that indie authors may be getting their hopes up about new markets, which are less numerous and more difficult to exploit than domestic ones.”
Author, Blog Publisher
Differing from Ricardo Fayet’s opinion, Joanna Penn believes "as the global market for eBooks continues to rise, authors will go wide with their distribution and make more of their income from countries outside of the USA."
Rise of the Artisanal
Author of The John Pilate Mystery Series
Founder, Caroline Street Press
“I think we will see the beginning of dominance in the indie market by artisanal authors. By artisanal, I mean serious authors who write good books employing professional editors and cover designers, marketed in a more professional way. I think better quality eBooks and POD offerings will start to crowd out the schlocky, obviously thrown-together stuff. Consumers have had enough of junk, and the market will reflect that.”
An Apple A Day
“I predict that Apple will finally connect the right dots to make iBooks a stronger competitor to Amazon's Kindle eBook ecosystem. It's already a kind of sleeping giant in the self-publishing space, but Apple's recent improvements with the iBooks Store search functionality, and updates to its iBooks Author multi-touch platform, point toward the company taking its eBook business more seriously in the near future.”
Gutting the Market
“Kindle Unlimited will gut single-copy sales and drive greater ebook commoditization –
Earlier this year I blogged about how Amazon’s merchandising actively encourages Kindle customers to read books for free as part of a Kindle Unlimited or Amazon Prime subscription. I think the entire industry remains oblivious to the long--term ramifications of Amazon’s strategy here (not a surprise, because despite Amazon operating with amazing transparency and predictability, most industry watchers and media still fail to understand how Amazon’s unique self publishing strategy will completely upend the publishing industry).
The issue of immediate concern is that Amazon is actively discouraging its customers from purchasing single copy eBooks. Amazon is training its customers to view even 99 cent eBooks as too expensive when other books can be read for what feels like free. Amazon’s success with Kindle Unlimited, which now offers over 1 million books almost exclusively supplied by indie authors, is going to gut the market for single copy sales at Amazon. Four publishing industry constituencies will feel the pain. I’ll itemize each. In descending order of pain, these constituencies include traditionally published authors and their publishers which I’ll consider as a single group; non-exclusive indie authors; Amazon-exclusive authors; and competing retailers.”
In My Humble Opinion . . .
Based on these industry leaders’ forecasts, it appears 2016 will shape up to be yet another eye-opening year for those who have chosen self-publishing as their field of endeavor. Whether it’s sales, distribution, technology, automation, branding marketing, it appears there’s an over-riding theme of personalization where you can leverage factors, which work best for you.
From my own perspective, I personally feel indie writers will focus more on today’s ‘new consumer.’ As many of us would surely attest, our readership base is experiencing a generational shift. In addition to older demographics, we are now addressing the Millennial reader as well. Reared on a steady diet of instant gratification, this is a market with fleeting attention spans as is evidenced by their attraction to new mobile social apps, such as Snapchat. By acknowledging their preferences, it’s becoming more and more apparent mobility will become a key driver in attracting more of this market in 2016. Sole reliance on websites will no longer be enough if you haven’t also addressed their major source of consumption – namely, the smartphone.
‘Touch’ is the new ‘Click.’ With each new iteration of iPhones and Androids, the evolution of touch-based smartphones and tablets has taken over typing. So when designing your mobile websites, consider using drop down menus, check boxes, and prepopulated fields whenever possible, so that your mobile visitors can navigate and input information easily, rather than having to fill in long forms.
Modern-day consumers are making more and more purchases on-the-go, as Leonhardt noted above. If your website isn’t yet ‘mobile-optimized’ for 2016, you should think hard and long about including it in your strategic planning, and addressing how you can leverage the technology to reach this new audience effectively and expeditiously.
With that said, here’s to a happy and prosperous year to all!
And by all means, please let us know your thoughts on these self-publishing predictions and share your own 2016 predictions.
Readers & Writers: I look forward to your feedback, comments and critiques, and please use BookWorks.com as your resource to learn more about preparing, publishing and promoting self-published books. My blogs appear bi-weekly on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month.
We love to keep our indie authors happy. Join BookWorks network of established and emerging self-published authors and gain exclusive insight to publishing and promoting your book. Sign up HERE.