The SparkPoint Studio team has pulled together their big predictions and tips for indie authors for next year. Read through what our experts have to offer and make 2018 your greatest year yet.
Top Predictions from Our Team
“Female authors, content creators and storytellers will dominate in 2018. – Crystal Patriarche, CEO & President
“Broader leveling of the playing field.
– Brooke Warner, She Writes Press Publisher
We are going to see a broader leveling of the playing field for all authors as more independently published authors win more awards, receive more accolades and garner better sales for their books. In 2017, She Writes Press and SparkPress saw some major wins for indie publishing, including being listed by the Authors Guild, and being recognized as “industry innovators” by the Book Industry Standards Group. I think 2018 is going to see even more legitimizing of independently published authors from the traditional industry, showcasing that there really is something to be said for letting the book speak for itself based on its merit rather than how it came to be published.
“Brands and bloggers will embrace indie.
– Kristin Bustamante, Chief Content Officer
Indie publishing is going to gain popularity among bloggers and digital content creators as a way to share their stories with a wider audience while also maintaining a personal investment and touch that they’re used to. Digital media mavens are married to their creative work and giving up total control to a publisher is no way to treat the brand that you’ve built. Plus, you’ve built the brand and the platform so it’s only right that you share in success of the book that’s based on your brand.
“Short-form mediums expand.
– Lauren Wise, Editorial Manager
The way we consume stories and books will continue to change to more short-form mediums; new platforms will arise from springboards like Wattpad, and audiobooks releasing in chapters. And with the continued growth in popularity for audiobooks, I think the routes to create them will become more accessible for authors, with new or altered services. I also believe we’ll see more attention on socially conscious books, as well as a surge in sci-fi and fantasy since those are super easy to translate to different mediums and people continue to be hungry for literary escapes. And, of course, I hope that the publishing industry will continue to crack open to eventually rid itself of the mentality that traditional publishing is the best (or only) route for authors.
“Authors will branch out to other content platforms.
– Christelle Lujan, Content Marketing Manager
There is a longstanding tradition of keeping introverted authors under wraps during the marketing process. Many have some anxiety around interviews, especially video, they tend to hate social media and frequently would prefer to just get back to writing and let the “marketers market.” It has become more apparent than ever in 2017 though that the indie authors who put themselves out there are the ones who find their readers. With so many ways to reach fans and interact, 2018 will bring more authors out from hiding and into the spotlight where they belong. From Facebook LIVE events, to podcast interviews, to #Bookstagram tours, the ever-expanding opportunity for sharing content and reaching people will give even the shyest author the chance to engage and interact in exciting and meaningful ways. Instead of making the book the star, the author and their brand will become the point of interest, giving authors career-long opportunities rather than short bursts around publication dates.
“Amazon’s third party issue could unite the industry.
– Samantha Strom, Editorial Project Manager
There was no small amount of concern in 2017 when Amazon changed up its algorithm to make third-party sellers the top buying choice for customers, bumping publishers down the sales ladder and removing an author’s ability to earn royalties on a new book purchase. This “gray market,” encouraged by the third-party buying buttons on Amazon, has the potential to expand rapidly. Though this is bad news for authors and publishers, after a time, it could strengthen the bonds between the two, leading to a surge in buying direct.
Digital Marketing Tips and Predictions
“Use more authentic pictures and customized graphics.
– Christi Jacir, Creative Director
Authors will be moving away from stock images and generic photos and more towards personalized shots. As smart phone cameras get better, so does the photography (and thus your ability to DIY your images.) Social content is filled with photos taken from bloggers and users and your audience can spot a stiff/staged stock photo from a mile away.
Another trend for authors to be aware of is approachable design. We’re seeing less product shots and more images that try to capture a moment in time or a feeling. There is also going to be less copy and more focus on visual storytelling.
“Influencer marketing comes to the book world.
– Leila O’Hara, Digital Marketing Account Executive
Influencer marketing is the biggest trend that indie authors should take notice of in 2018. According to Entrepreneur, 90% of brands that use influencer marketing see it as effective. Indie authors should partner with highly influential book Instagrammers to take advantage of their large social audience, high engagement rates and increase awareness of their book amongst a tight-knit community of bookworms. Paying influencers to post your book may sound like a risky investment but the dividends are high. Just one social post can help you gain exposure, new social followers and potentially more book sales all with little time or money invested.
“Use your website to tell a story.
– Maggie Ruf, Graphic and Web Designer
Websites are no longer just there to house your book info, bio and possibly a blog. In 2018, your website should be a part of your overall story featuring all different kinds of multimedia. If you’re a memoirist, feature photos from your life that capture the essence of your book. If you’re a sci-fi writer, there should be something otherworldly about your site. Offer your readers an audio clip of your first chapter on the homepage. Go beyond the basic structure and work with a web designer who knows you and your story and can capture that with design.
“Get into more book roundups.
– Ashley Johnson, Content Creator
Being featured in the media among “like-titles” has grown increasingly important. These pieces, that we call book roundups, have a lot to offer and a lot of popularity. Reviews and interviews, while valuable, just aren’t enough all alone.
Book roundups offer something click worthy on social media and are readable pieces of content for any book lover, not just your fans. You want to be featured among your fellow authors (especially if you’re new) and that means you should be trying to make it into roundups like this, and this and this. Whether you’ve hired a publicist or are DIYing your coverage, getting featured in roundups brings a whole new level of visibility to your book.
It also makes phenomenal content for your own blog and promotional outlets. Collaborate with author friends, share books you’ve read that are similar to yours or just do a fun, themed roundup of books in your genre. The point is, create and be a part of content that helps readers understand where your book fits in a world full of millions of reading options!
Book Publicity Tips and Predictions
The BookSparks team of PR pros pulled together their collective predictions for authors. Director of Publicity, Liane Worthington, and her team of publicists, Morgan Rath, Taylor Brightwell, Madison Rowbotham, Savannah Harrelson and Tabitha Bailey all had a lot to say about the future of book PR.
- Media Outreach: What used to be taboo is now becoming the norm and social media pitching on Twitter is becoming more prevalent, as well as using social media to seek media connections. There will also be an increase in connecting with freelancers for coverage rather than going directly to editors and staff reporters. Authors will continue to see new opportunities that accompany the rise in podcast interviews.
- Events: Panel events becoming more popular, either in conversation or moderated events. Non-traditional launch parties at unique venues will gain more popularity. And Facebook live events will take the place of bookstore events for many indie authors.
- Reviews: Short reviews on social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube will continue to rise in popularity. Excerpts are also making a comeback and will be more frequently included with reviews, giving readers opinions and samples of an author’s work. Reviews will also be shared in nontraditional outlets (such as radio station websites) more frequently as our digital connectedness expands.
- Awards: Indie books are getting a lot more award recognition. They are earning awards that traditional publishers typically sweep and finding their own path in niche awards for genre and content background.