The publishing industry has undergone significant transformations in recent years. The pandemic caused increased digitalization and the self-publishing boom has created more competition for authors than ever. To ensure a successful book launch, authors must adapt to changes in technology, reading habits, marketing practices, and more. Here are ten publishing trends you should consider as you write, distribute, and promote your book.

Digital Transformation

The COVID-19 pandemic rapidly accelerated digitalization within the publishing industry. During lockdowns, distributing published books became increasingly challenging. Due to shipping disruptions and bookstore closures, publishers and authors had to pivot and embrace online platforms like Amazon. The pandemic also shaped reading habits, driving consumers away from print and toward digital alternatives like e-books and audiobooks. Recent data suggests that this trend has continued post-pandemic.

A survey conducted by the Audio Publishers Association found that 53% of adults listened to at least one audiobook in 2023—an 8% increase from 2022. The size of the e-book market also grew by 5.2% in 2023. Factors like convenience and accessibility may be driving digital adoption. Consumers appreciate the ability to instantly download books on various portable devices like phones and Kindles, allowing them to read or listen while on the go. Digital formats also make it easier for people with visual impairments, dyslexia, and other disabilities to enjoy reading.

Although e-books are challenging the dominance of traditional print publishing, these two book formats can still coexist. After all, 43% of readers still prefer the tactile experience of holding a paper book. It’s important to consider releasing multiple formats to reach the widest audience possible and increase your sales potential.

Multimedia Elements

Embracing digital publishing also gives you the opportunity to add multimedia elements to your book to boost engagement. Authors are experimenting with adding attention-grabbing visuals to their e-books, such as photos, videos, interactive graphs, and animations. These flourishes can make your book more entertaining and impactful, helping to drive your message home. You can even incorporate multimedia elements into your marketing strategy. 

For example, Charlie Hoehn included a link to a video landing page in the sample chapter of his book, Play It Away: A Workaholic’s Cure for Anxiety. The video summarized the main points of his book, enticing readers to purchase it to learn more. Plus, the landing page prompted readers to buy the title or enter their email address to receive a free course on beating anxiety. Including a landing page with several calls-to-action in his e-book sample enabled Charlie to stimulate sales and build up his email list.

Sustainability

Sustainability concerns are also driving digital transformation in publishing. Nearly 65% of consumers say they’re worried about the environment, which influences their purchasing decisions. Avid readers who want to reduce their ecological footprint may turn to e-readers, which are more sustainable than print books if you read at least nine titles per year. However, consumers who don’t finish enough books to offset the environmental cost of manufacturing an e-reader might actually be better off choosing print books. 

Advancements in print on demand (POD) technology have made the book production process more sustainable. With POD, books are only printed and shipped when an order is placed. This manufacturing method cuts the upfront cost of larger print runs and eliminates the risk of unsold inventory ending up in landfills. Authors who want to join the sustainability movement should consider partnering with major POD service providers like IngramSpark and Amazon CreateSpace to distribute their book.

Rise of Niche Social Media

A new marketing trend authors need to be aware of is the rise of niche social media platforms, especially among younger adults. In a recent survey, nearly 60% of respondents under thirty said that they preferred smaller social networks. The increasing popularity of niche platforms may be driven by nostalgia for the simpler social networks of the past, such as MySpace. Users may also be motivated to find new online spaces due to the uncertain future of TikTok and X. 

The impending TikTok ban in the US could end the app’s reign as the leader in short-form video content. X has also lost users and advertisers due to unpopular policies like loosened content restrictions, reinstatement of banned accounts, and a new paid verification system. Niche social platforms like Mastodon, Bluesky, and Hive Social have emerged as potential alternatives, earning many new users.

Joining these growing niche communities can have many benefits for authors. Data suggests that engagement rates on niche platforms are up to 60% higher compared to major social media sites. There are also fewer creators and less competition on these apps, which can make it easier for new authors to build an active, involved audience. 

There are specialized social networks dedicated to almost every interest, from ActiveRain for real estate professionals to Letterboxd for film aficionados. Finding communities that are aligned with your book’s topic will enable you to connect with like-minded potential readers.

Subscription Models

Authors should also be aware of the increasing popularity of subscription models within the publishing industry. Amazon has achieved great success with its book subscription service Kindle Unlimited, growing it to an estimated 4 million subscribers. The service gives voracious readers unrestricted access to an expansive digital library for a small monthly fee. Other major players in the book subscription space include Audible, Scribd, and Hoopla, which partners with local libraries. As subscription models continue to grow and evolve, authors should stay up-to-date on developments and take steps to offer their books on the most popular digital library platforms.

Additionally, building their own subscription-based communities can enable authors to bring in extra revenue. Patreon and Substack allow fans to access exclusive content from their favorite authors and creators for a monthly fee. Publishing short-form content on these gated platforms could help you supplement your income between book releases. 

Self-Publishing Boom

Some experts say that the rise of self-publishing platforms has leveled the playing field for authors and democratized publishing. Writers no longer need to rely solely on traditional publishing houses to bring their work to market, giving them greater freedom and creative control. Self-publishing also allows authors to earn higher royalty rates and keep more of the profits from their hard work. However, authors who choose to go it alone without support often face an uphill battle. Nearly 90% of self-published titles sell less than 100 copies, and 20% of independent authors fail to earn any income from their book release. 

The increasing popularity of self-publishing has made it difficult for authors to stand out and succeed. In the last five years alone, the number of independent titles has risen by 264%. Since the market is very crowded, it’s important to invest in professional book design, editing, and marketing services to attract readers and generate sales. Working with a book coach allows authors to experience all the upsides of self-publishing while getting the expert guidance they need to launch their career.

Marketing on BookTok

With more than 1 billion users globally, TikTok has become a powerful platform for book promotion and author branding. BookTok, a subcommunity of the app, is centered around literature and features book reviews, hauls, recommendations, and more. As of December 2023, the community has amassed 60 billion videos and over 200 billion views. Especially for Gen Z, BookTok influencers can be pivotal in selling books. In a poll of more than 2,000 young adults, nearly 60% said that BookTok helped them discover a passion for reading. About 40% of young people reported turning to BookTok for recommendations first, ahead of family and even friends. 

To promote their book to a wider audience, many authors send advance reader copies to BookTok influencers. Partnering with an influencer to give away copies of your book can also help you gain exposure. However, it’s also important to build your own presence on the app and engage with the community directly. BookTok viewers appreciate authentic brand voices and quirky, unique videos, such as skits, memes, and trope analyses. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your content and invite readers behind-the-scenes of your writing process to make your videos feel more personal. 

Although TikTok offers many opportunities for self-promotion, there are some pitfalls authors should be conscious of. TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is entering the industry under its new publishing arm, 8th Note Press. This has raised concerns that TikTok may prioritize its own authors in the future to boost sales, potentially making it harder for other writers to gain traction on the platform. Furthermore, the impending TikTok ban in the US is another issue to be aware of, especially if BookTok plays an essential role in your marketing strategy. While this potential ban probably won’t take effect immediately, it’s important to be prepared for the future and ready to pivot if necessary.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence technology promises to transform various aspects of the publishing industry. AI-driven tools for content creation, editing, and translation claim to help authors streamline their workflows and improve the quality of their writing. Although AI output appears remarkably human-like at first glance, there are hidden pitfalls authors should be aware of.

Writing assistants like ChatGPT frequently produce inaccurate responses that sound true, so its mistakes can be hard to detect. Although many believe that AI will improve in a linear fashion over time, studies have shown that it can actually take steps backward and get worse as more training data is introduced. Current AI models can also have trouble interpreting complex, nuanced information such as legal documents and academic research. Summarizing and citing these sources correctly is key to establishing your authority as an author, so it may be unwise to entrust this task to ChatGPT. 

Additionally, AI-generated writing often lacks personality and a human touch. For instance, chatbots can struggle to understand and produce humor that relies on cultural knowledge. Since ChatGPT doesn’t have a consciousness or feelings of its own, the content it produces doesn’t have much emotional depth. For that reason, relying on AI tools to produce your manuscript could result in shallow writing that fails to capture the power of your story. 

Another important consideration for authors is that AI-generated work isn’t copyrightable. So your book may lack important legal protections if you choose to produce it using tools like ChatGPT. According to the FTC, some AI models may have been trained on datasets that included original, creative works by published writers. This raises questions about whether AI output that incorporates protected material violates copyright laws. If you want to prevent your own writing from being used in AI responses, you can take certain steps to protect yourself, such as blocking ChatGPT from crawling your author website. 

Until AI is further regulated, these gray areas will persist. Seeking guidance from an informed professional like a book coach can help authors successfully navigate the challenges of this emerging technology.

Plagiarism

In the age of digital publishing and artificial intelligence, reverse plagiarism and piracy are major concerns for authors. Since the bar for self-publishing is low, many authors have found their names attached to fraudulent books that they didn’t upload or produce. Jane Friedman reported that AI-generated books were falsely attributed to her on both Amazon and Goodreads, potentially tricking her loyal readers into buying sub-par, counterfeit work. 

This unauthorized use of an author’s name is known as reverse plagiarism and can damage their reputation. Unfortunately, it’s often hard to correct. Authors must monitor Amazon for fake titles and report them to customer service themselves. Goodreads requires authors to reach out to volunteer curators to ask for scam books to be removed from their profile, which can be time-consuming.

Authors also need to watch out for regular plagiarism and piracy. Entering certain lines from your book into search engines can help you see if your work is showing up on torrent sites. Alternatively, you can set up a Google Alert for the title of your book to get notified when it’s mentioned online. If your book has been reproduced without your permission, you can issue a DMCA takedown notice for the material that’s infringing your copyright. Registering your book with the copyright office can help make it easier to prove that you own your work and get pirated copies removed.

Additionally, authors should diligently fact-check their own books to avoid any issues with plagiarism and be sure to acknowledge any sources. The fallout of accidental plagiarism can damage an author’s reputation and even lead to legal consequences.

Diversity and Inclusion

The publishing industry is increasingly recognizing the importance of diversity and is striving to amplify voices from underrepresented communities. This commitment to inclusion is vital, as it ensures that all readers see themselves reflected in the books that they consume. More than ever, authors need to infuse their unique perspective and voice into their work to authentically connect with readers. Sharing your story will touch people with similar experiences and show them that they aren’t alone, helping change lives. 

Changes to the publishing industry, such as increased competition and plagiarism, can make it harder to promote your book and protect your copyright. However, with the right support, it’s possible to successfully navigate these challenges and fulfill your dreams of becoming a published author. Our book coaching programs can help you write and position your book in the most impactful way to maximize your sales potential and reach.