Change is imminent in any industry, more so in publishing. Most often, changes come about based on reader preferences or a general shift in reading behavior. There are also times when authors and publishers take on a more pro-active approach to bring about a transformation. In doing so, they push for ideas that are beneficial for the entire industry in terms of book popularity and sales.
Book publishing trends 2020 have followed patterns similar to previous years, altering the course of what we read and how we perceive modern-day book culture. Whether these trends will become a permanent fixture over the years or fizzle out, as many trends do, we will simply have to wait and see.
When we talk about changes in book publishing, self-publishing has been the most visible and continuously growing trend these past few years. In the US alone, 1.68 million books were self-published in 2018. Thanks to Amazon KDP, anyone with a story can distribute a book without knowing much about the industry. In fact, several of the book publishing trends 2020 that we talk about below are based on more authors taking the self-publishing route, leading to a shift in business practices that range from marketing to working with freelance professionals.
With several authors entering the publishing world on their own, supporting each other is a smart, secure, and pocket-friendly move. These collaborations between authors are taking place on many levels. Several of them are now teaming up to release short-story anthologies to capitalize on a broader fan base.
On the business front, authors are starting to stand against market leaders who have a monopoly over certain publishing outlets and are thus charging an exorbitant sales percentage for their assistance. Similarly, authors are helping each other by exposing fraudulent services that have cropped up with the increase of self-publishing.
In an attempt to lessen the cost of publishing a book, several independent authors and small presses are now hiring freelancers for various jobs.
Editing, proofreading, beta-reading, social media management, and cover design are indispensable aspects of a successful book launch. Authors who do not have access to the same resources that the big publishers provide are thus looking at freelancers to help them better their product.
This has led to more collaborations between artists, content creators, and people who are new to the industry, which many see as a positive step towards sustaining independent book publishing.
Audiobooks have been slowly but steadily entering the mainstream book market, and in 2020 they became as common as eBooks and paperbacks. The figures have been positive, with a 25% yearly rise in audiobooks sales seen in the US every year since 2017.
Adding to the growing acceptance of the format are services such as Amazon-owned Audible that make it simpler for readers to download a book on their preferred device. To make audiobooks more appealing, publishers are roping in celebrities or the authors themselves to read the stories, a move that has particularly pleased listeners.
Book publishing trends typically take into account genres that are performing well. While true crime has intrigued and fascinated readers for decades, it wasn't until Netflix came out with a barrage of documentaries that it became a hot topic once again. This interest in serial killers and murder investigations has trickled down to the book world, with more true crime books and memoirs being published recently.
Speaking of memoirs, there has been an interesting transformation in celebrities sharing their personal stories. While celebrity memoirs are still a much-loved genre, publishers are now tapping into the social media universe, working with influencers who have made a name for themselves in fields like travel, beauty, fitness, and fashion blogging. Celebrities in their own rights, these individuals already have a massive fan base, guaranteeing initial sales.
Some of the recent books by such influencers have included Bloom, a memoir by YouTuber Estée Lalonde, The Shooting Star by India's top travel blogger Shivya Nath, and Zoe Sugg's fictional story Girl Online. This trend in book publishing is likely to continue for at least a few more years.
For decades filmmakers have found inspiration in books, from classics to contemporary pieces that stand out for their excellent characterization. With streaming services becoming the in-thing, there is a higher demand for original content. As a result, book publishing trends 2020 are all about book to screen adaptations happening at a much faster rate than before. A recent example being Normal People, where the series based on the book came out within two years of its publication.
One of the most inspiring and positive book publishing trends in 2020 has been the introduction of more diverse and niche genres. Pushkin Vertigo recently came out with a brilliant collection featuring French and Japanese thriller translations. There are also more stories that revolve around characters and authors from the LGBT community. The recent Black Lives Matter campaign has resulted in bibliophiles demanding more books by people of color. While diversity has been more prominent in self-publishing, big publishers are finally starting to take steps in the right direction.
There has been plenty of debate over eBooks these past few years. While there was a shift towards eBooks initially, the novelty of it all died down soon enough. However, 2020 has turned out to be instrumental in eBook sales. With social distancing keeping readers indoors and bookshops closed, eBooks have been the one source for many to continue their favorite hobby. This "forced" change has somewhat reignited the idea and importance of eBooks amongst book lovers. As a result, publishers are once again pushing for more eBooks, this time with competitive prices.
A vital aspect of book publishing trends 2020 is marketing. Authors and publishers have finally come to terms with the fact that books do not sell themselves. Thus, a well-planned marketing strategy is crucial for higher sales.
There are various ways to go about marketing a book. The first step is making it available to as many readers as possible. Amazon has been the only choice for many self-publishing authors until now. Still, the latest trends show that writers want to spread out, and are looking at services that help them release books in bookstores, online, and in libraries simultaneously, without the constraints that come with publishing through Amazon.
With organic reach for books at an all-time low, advertising is now an integral part of promotions. Facebook and Amazon have been the frontrunners in this area and continue to be the best option for new and established authors. Both services allow writers, at a price, to reach their specific audience directly, thus helping boost sales in the long term.
Trends in book publishing recently have been about getting more involved in the marketing of books. One way to do that is through ARCs or Advanced Reader Copies. A significant number of authors are now listing ARCs on websites like NetGalley or using tools such as genre-specific book blog lists on BookSirens to individually contact bloggers and bookstagrammers. Advance reviews play a massive part in the initial success of a book, and can also help bump it up on bestseller lists for better visibility.
However, promotions are no longer just about reviews. For authors and publishers, book tours, giveaways, and having an active social media presence is vital. Instagram has been tremendous when it comes to advertising through bloggers. #Bookstagram is one of the most frequently used hashtags on the channel and comprises of bloggers showcasing books through pretty pictures. Looking at the reach bookstagrammers have, publishers are collaborating with them regularly as a way to influence a wider audience at a very low cost.
While reading books is not going to go out of fashion anytime soon, it is becoming harder every day for authors to stand out amongst the crowd. Book publishing trends 2020 are all about having an aggressive and almost in-your-face approach to selling books, be it by known publishers or independent authors.
If there is one thing that the industry needs to learn from these trends, it is that writing a book is not enough, one also needs to be ready to devote considerable time to let the world know that it exists.