As the end of 2016 draws near many are glad that the election is over and political news has returned to a manageable level. Yet, we wonder what challenges lay ahead in the coming year.
For authors and publishers, I believe that the publishing landscape will continue to develop in the direction it has been growing over the past decade. Here are four publishing trends I see for 2017.
1. Self-publishing will continue to grow.
For the past decade, self-publishing has experienced tremendous growth. The number of self-published books will continue to grow in 2017 as more services arise to guide authors to publish their own books. Services that now offer free book layout software and cover designs (think Reedsy and Createspace) have made the playing field easily accessible for anyone desiring to publish a book. After all, surveys show that 80% of Americans feel they have a book inside them.
2. The number of books published will continue to exponentially outpace the growth rate of reading.
The reading rate in America has remained steady since 2012 (with a slight decrease from 2011 reading rates). Pew Research Center reports that about 73% of Americans read a book each year. However, the number of books published in the United States has grown exponentially since 2010. The number of self-published titles has grown from 133,036 published in 2010 to 727,125 published in 2015. That is a 446.5% increase in the number of self-published titles in five years.
3. With more books than readers, finding readers for your books will become increasingly more difficult.
Discoverability has been a buzz word in 2016. That’s because with the increase in books published, it is harder for any one book to get discovered by a reader. Enter a search in Amazon.com for “prayer” and you will receive 133,759 book results. That is a lot of books on prayer to choose from. Readers are inundated with books. Authors will be increasingly taxed to provide convincing evidence to readers that their book is worthy of a reader’s attention.
4. Audience development will be crucial for an author’s success.
No longer can authors count on readers discovering their book. Instead, authors will need to work on developing an audience for their books. Developing an audience is about gaining people’s trust. It’s about sharing your message with them in bite-size pieces in a way that enriches their lives so that they want to hear or read more of what you have to say.
At Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), we believe that audience development will be crucial for success in publishing in the coming years. To help our members become more skilled at developing an audience, CSPA will release an on-demand seminar on Audience Development at the start of 2017.
As you make your plans and set your goals for 2017, don’t let this news discourage you. If God is calling you to write and publish, then he has readers who need to hear your message. Your part is to be faithful to your calling, not just to write and publish, but to also let people know that your book exists so they can read it.