The end of any year presents a unique opportunity to combine reflection with forward thinking, and 2018 is no exception. Whether you're beginning a new novel, writing a book marketing plan for an existing book, or working on any aspect of your self-publishing journey, now is the time to examine the self-publishing landscape at the conclusion of 2017 and prepare accordingly for 2018. Here's what we saw and predict!Listen Now on Our Podcast!
Genre: What's Hot, What's Not?
Toward the end of 2017, you probably noticed poetry books by Rupi Kaur (Milk and Honey) and r.h. Sin (whiskey words & a shovel) among the bestsellers both online and in bookstores. This is a trend we predict will continue throughout 2018, along with a return to chick-lit, romance novels, and books about witches.
What you won't be seeing much of in the 2018 bestsellers are zombies and vampires. This was a trend that lasted a few years but has its best days behind it—at least for now.
The publishing industry in general, but particularly the self-publishing side, has also had its fill when it comes to political thrillers. We've noticed that readers are becoming less and less interested in reading about politics as of late.
And although you've probably read at least one or two of the top-selling books whose main character is, to put it kindly, a little unsteady (think Gone Girl), we believe the unreliable female narrator has left the publishing stage for 2018. In her place is a different, much stronger woman like the women of 2017 who marched in the street and created a movement.
Social Movements: Changing the Self-Publishing Landscape
Given the recent reboot of the women's movement, it's no surprise that "feminism" has been christened as Merriam-Webster's word of the year for 2017. Due to the significance of the Women's March and the #MeToo movement, women are everywhere—including on the pages of bestsellers. These women are hardly the damsels-in-distress you remember from yesterday's bodice rippers. The women being portrayed in literature these days are powerful women. They're rescuing dukes-in-distress, they're replacing male superheroes like Superman, and they're kicking butt in children's books, too. Social movements affect literary trends, and for 2018 the trend is women, women, women.
Bookstores are Back!
Although indie bookstores took a hit during the first decade of the 21st century, 2017 gave rise to increased bookstore sales as well as an increase in the number of indie bookstores opening up and holding their own. One of the reasons why is our increasing need for connection in the current landscape. Small bookshops, themed bookshops, and personalized recommendations from indie booksellers are serving a community niche due to their ability to provide real customer service, efficiently hand-select inventory, and plan popular neighborhood events.
The Print Vs. Ebook Debate
If anyone tells you that print is dead, don't believe it. Fortune magazine recently reported that millennials are putting some 80 percent of their book-buying budget into print books, a trend that will continue into 2018. As Fortune puts it, "Millennials want to make books cool again." Need proof? Just google #shelfies. Incidentally, hardcovers make great shelfies, and we think you should watch for a continued rise in hardcover book sales alongside paperbacks and ebooks.
As a self-published author, your best bet is to make your books available in both print and electronic formats. Consider self-publishing your book in as many formats as possible, including audiobooks. Exposure is how self-published books get noticed (and also how they get picked up by the film industry—think Andy Weir and his indie bestseller, The Martian).
The Year of the Hybrid Author
One amazing trend that took hold in 2017 and will continue is the hybrid author. This is the author who publishes via both traditional publishing and self-publishing. The so-called stigma of self-publishing has seen its last days. Given its acceptance in the publishing industry as a whole, self-publishing is now a viable option for all authors.
As you consider these self-publishing trends of 2017 that we've noticed, allow them to guide you. That doesn't mean you should attempt to write to spec. Your best (and best-selling) book will be the one you're most passionate about. Let publishing industry trends inform your writing, but write what you love. Then take on the self-publishing market in as many ways as you can.