Book Industry Trends: How to Succeed in 2019 (and Beyond)

Let’s take a look at the latest book industry trends.

First, Everything is changing.

What used to work doesn’t any more. The traditional publishing industry keeps tightening its grip on the old way of doing things and insisting it still works.

Maybe you’ve sensed it. Maybe you haven’t.

But it’s happening. Quickly. And if you’re going to make it as an author, it’s time to pay attention.

What Used to Work

The old model was pretty straight forward.

  1. Write, pitch, get rejected (by agents). Repeat.
  2. Eventually persuade an agent to represent you.
  3. Write, pitch, get rejected (by publishers). Repeat.
  4. Eventually persuade a publisher to pick up your book.
  5. From there, they publish the book, and get it stocked in book stores (the only place you could buy books).
  6. If it sells, you get another deal. If it doesn’t, you’re out.

Unless you are already a household name and you’re automatically going to get stocked on the front table in every Barnes & Noble and airport bookstore, it’s almost impossible to break in to the marketplace the traditional way.

What Happened?

We could spend a lot of time talking about Amazon.com and how they revolutionized the book industry. But in a real sense, the same thing happened to the book industry that has happened to every industry.

The gatekeepers have lost power. There is no longer one small set of people that decides what gets published, what gets marketed, what gets reviewed, and what gets sold.

The shelf space is unlimited. You don’t have to get your book stocked at the big or indie book stores to be successful. You can publish your book in the same place that most of the copies of the latest Stephen King novel have sold (Amazon).

There is no central recommender. Getting a Kirkus starred review doesn’t sell a bunch of books. Just like winning a major writing award doesn’t translate to selling more books. Now people get recommendations from Amazon’s algorithm, GoodReads recommendations, YouTube channels, blog reviews, and of course the old stand by, word of mouth.

Everything has fractured. One of the upsides of the old model is, if you got in, you would be successful. Now, even if you get into the system, you still don’t have a better chance of success over the indie author who just self-published their novel.

I’ve seen several authors get their book profiled in the New York Times and see no bump in sales.

The power has shifted. Authors are no longer beholden to an agent or a publisher to get their work out into the world. BUT, that power now puts the responsibility on you. In the old model, once your manuscript was with the publisher, you were mostly done. Now, at that point, your job has just started.

This can be scary.

Now it feels like the wild west. You hear stories of authors getting published by their dream publisher, and then the whole thing becoming a disaster. Then you hear about some author that has used Instagram to make their book a best seller. Then you hear about how going on a blog tour works. But then it doesn’t work.


What now? Current Book Industry Trends

Let’s assume for a moment that all of this is a good thing.

What does it mean for you.

Trend #1: Authors are trying new things. You can serialize your novel. You can come up with obscure, crazy genres and give it a try. You can write and publish a new book every month. You can join with other authors to launch a box set and go after a bestseller list. Now, anything you come up with you can just give it a try because you don’t need a big corporation to give permission.

Trend #2: Authors are owning the connection to their audience. With blogging, social media, email lists, etc, the author can now build the 1-on-1 connection with their readers. You don’t have to rely on distribution or advertising campaigns. You can build up your own audience so every time you come out with a new book, you already have a direct connection to your fan base to let them know it’s available.

Trend #3: It is not all or nothing. You don’t have to become a full-time writer to make it worth it. You can start small and build something over time. There are lots of self-published authors that use writing to supplement their income. They’re paying their light bills or taking their family on vacation using the money from book sales. Instead of going big, you can now start small and grow it slowly.

We already know there is a lot of money in the book industry, but with everything changing, how do you break in?

The next step: Author Platform

If you want to take advantage all three of these trends, the answer is to build an Author Platform. The definition of an author platform is:

“A direct connection to your audience that allows you to predictably and reliably sell books.”

This is how you take advantage of all three trends.

An author platform allows you to experiment with new ideas, build the direct connection with your audience, and build something slowly over time.

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