Everything You Need To Know About Today’s Publishing Landscape delivered exactly what it said on the tin at Author HQ. First up, Reeta Windsor of Nielsen set the scene for the industry through displaying statistics from their various points of research.
Everything is up!
At a glance: all genres are up. E-books and self publishing are up. Youtube and vloggers have, unsurprisingly, made a big impact, with their online presence giving them a route to market that’s very important.
The publishing trade is up for the first time since 2007, 3.7% up on last year in volume, 6.6% value. It’s good news all round. Sales of all formats are up, though for e-books the value they go for is decreasing. Traditional publishing, in 2015, took up 73m e-book units, whereas self-publishing was 20m – a definite rise over the last few years.
The one main point of growth other than colouring books is the Youtuber. They’ve got millions of subscribers and there’s a market for these books: they do fiction or humour primarily, and appeal to an established fanbase.
So what are consumers doing? In their spare time, 63% use social media, 48% video, 39% magazines and 27% read blogs and forums. These are all becoming vital ways to reach consumers. “Video sharing is the next new thing,” she notes. So how do you get your book to people? “Your book has to be found, put metadata on a bibliographic database This is very important.” At the moment, 50% of purchases are online, so you need to break through to that.
There’s no point in writing if you don’t encourage reading.
But is it easier to be an author now? “It’s really easy to be an author,” says Nicola Solomon of the Society of Authors. “But it’s harder to make money.” You have to ask the question: what do you want to do it for? Is it to tell a story or pay the bills? If it’s just for the writing, then it’s easy to be happy.
“We think that loving reading is a majority pursuit,” she continues, “but that’s not the case.” We have a duty to encourage reading, protect libraries and copyright. On average, 19 minutes of each day are spent reading, and 10 hours are spent on a mobile. There’s huge competition for reading. There’s no point in writing if you don’t encourage readers – they’re the most endangered species.
“It comes down to money,” she notes. It’s a bit like Dragon’s Den: decide on your product and how much you want to give away. If you self-publish, you’ll keep the profits but pay for everything to do it well. Get a publisher, and you’ll get 10% profits but they’ll do all the work. How much you invest yourself versus others is interesting. “Remember, it’s a business.” You may be a great writer, but are you a great marketer, designer, editor?
Authors who are ‘professional’, as in they don’t have another job, dropped from 40% to 11%, with the mean income (not the average, which is inflated by the big sellers) at about £5,000.
“Work out what you want from books,” concludes Reeta. Is it to share a story, or to pay the bills? Those things don’t always meet. Decide what you want to do and everything falls into place on what to do next.