Based on observations in the industry we love so much, research, trends and predictions, here are the seven significant trends we see being pivotal for authors looking at publishing in 2021.
The quality of your book will be crucial to its success
In this increasingly competitive marketplace, authors need to invest the time and resources to create quality books. A consistent issue raised by readers is in the editorial process authors have undertaken as more and more there are titles riddled with typos and grammatical errors. This leads to poor reviews or readers giving up on the book or the author altogether. Furthermore, authors who do not engage professional cover design and book formatting providers are already starting on the back foot. First impressions matter and the quality of your book is often presumed by the cover design and back cover blurb.
It’s important to realise that not making an early investment in the quality of your book will actually cost you more in the long-run. It may feel painful to outlay funds into professionally trained editors and designers, but it will cost you significantly more in the long run.
The number of indie authors making a living from writing grows
Three years ago, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed that over a thousand independent authors surpassed $100,000 in Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) royalties. As self-publishing eBooks, physical books and audiobooks continues to get easier, the success of independent authors will continue to grow. Companies, like ours, will continue to recognise this growth and more tools and platforms will be provided to assist authors. Authors themselves will also continue to learn the skills needed to make it without a traditional publisher. The entire independent author landscape will be strengthened, and successful authors will see the rewards of increased royalties and freedom.
Book publishing in 2021 is a year packed with potential. More than ever, it has become feasible to make a living as a writer. If this is your goal, consider going all in this year. Research how other authors have built successful writing businesses, work with the right marketing strategists, make a plan and go for it!
Publishing in 2021 must include audiobooks as they continue to dominate
All publishers will continue to see audiobook sales rise in 2021. 2018 saw significant growth in the audiobook industry, and 2019 and 2020 continued the trend. Early 2019 saw strong audiobook sales and it hasn’t slowed. This is not surprising as readers keep saying they don’t have enough time to read. With audio becoming more and more popular, publishers and authors will continue to invest in it. Publishing in 2021 must also include the development of your audiobook.
Readers will continue to reach for audio. The audiobook landscape is about to get very exciting. Publishing an audiobook does require an investment of time and energy, but it also provides a path to diversifying your revenue streams.
Successful authors publishing in 2021 will begin market their books earlier
If publishing in 2021, authors that market their books early in the lifecycle will see more success. This means authors will lean harder than ever on marketing support to achieve success. More indie authors are starting to market their books before release than ever before, and even before they start writing. In fact, recent research over the last 3 years have shown that over 80% of successful indie authors started marketing their books before they began writing. Marketing will become even more important as authors experience more competition for visibility.
It’s time to introduce marketing much earlier into your writing process. Think of ways to build anticipation and awareness, and make sure to engage and build your community of readers. Consider what your pre sale strategy will look like. Don’t get discouraged when things don’t work, marketing is all about learning from failures. In saying that, seek professional and trusted guidance in marketing.
Amazon marketing service (AMS) ads will boom
AMS ads will become an essential part of the author’s toolkit when publishing in 2021. More and more authors are reporting rising costs on Facebook and Google ads. Amazon’s desire to grow its advertising reach will mean that paying to get your publication more visible on Amazon a necessary part of every author’s marketing strategy. Authors and publishers can’t ignore the need to pay to play in the Amazon marketplace and, as long as they maintain their dominance, there’s currently not many options available to be featured on the world’s biggest online selling channel.
If you’re not already familiar with AMS ads, it’s time to get busy. Read articles on how AMS ads work, reach out to other authors and see what is going well (or not) for them, and test your own ads. There has been some negative feedback due to low conversion rates from AMS ads, but like any new marketing strategy, AMS ads take a while to get familiar with, and results will vary from author to author. If you’re not ready to utilise AMS ads, being knowledgeable about them will allow you to be ready when the time comes.
Subscription services will continue to grow
Subscription based platforms have proven to already be very profitable for businesses and a great way to retain customers. Publishing in 2021 is no different. Subscription-based consumption models for eBooks and audiobooks have been enjoying significant growth. Even traditional publishers admit that these services increase their consumer potential and revenue. The same applies for indie authors, assuming the quality of the writing, editorial and design/production is up to standard.
With the already established subscription services gaining more momentum, the value of distributing your books to them will increase. With the exception of Kindle Unlimited, most of these services do not require you to be exclusive, providing you as an indie authors several options open for you to diversify your book sale revenue.
Writing for niche audiences builds strength
Competition for readers is increasing as more and more books are published. Online distributors and selling channels don’t have the inventory restrictions of physical bookstores. Once a book is published, it is here to stay. Non-fiction authors will be increasingly incentivized to write more content in their genre to feed the established reader base. Authors will also rely more on these niche reader communities to share their books with other likeminded readers. Becoming an expert in a specific genre will be one of the best forms of marketing to increase sales.
Find your community of readers and give them all you can. Finding readers for your books in broad genres will always be very competitive, so try to narrow your focus and your books down to a more specific sub-genre. Targeting readers in your sub-genre will be more successful as there will be less competition, and you know these people already have a desire and need for the subject matter you write about.
Publishing in 2021 – Conclusion
Book publishing in 2021 is, no doubt, going to be another exciting year, especially for independent authors. These trends feed further opportunity and awareness for our publications, so let’s recap.
As expected, the demand for more quality work to be published in a market where anyone can press a button online an technically ‘be published’ is increasing. The audience is loud both when reading quality material but also when not. Before examining how any of these other trends fit into your strategies, ensure you have a quality publication – professionally edited and designed.
We are seeing that those that do produce quality work, writing obviously included, are actually finding ways to build strong income from their work. Anyone that says there is no money in writing and publishing has it wrong. With the right road map, support and commitment it is more feasible now than ever to build a career as an author.
Ensuring audiobooks are part of your distribution model is critical. The process and speed in which the marketplace is consuming information in this new age has meant we need to look at all models of supply to the market. This includes audio and enabling our books to be consumed through online channels offering subscription services for their customers, like Audible. Also of strong importance for authors in their marketing is the need to incorporate Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) Ads – this will become an essential tool for independent authors. Finally, if you are a non-fiction writer and you have yet to discover your niche reader audience, then start researching and define it because now more than ever, these audiences are there to be served with fresh and new content.
That’s it! The top seven most significant industry trends every author needs to know when considering book publishing in 2021. What do you think? What will you act on? Let’s talk. Reach out to our team and start a conversation.