We hope, because otherwise we are all screwed.
Beyond getting exercise, the writing, the edits, the blogging, the Medium posts, the constant meals and snacks, and the ongoing search to find one more roll of toilet paper…I’ve been watching authors scramble to figure out how to reach readers during this pandemic. April and May are huge months for book releases in the publishing industry. Oftentimes the hype and planning for the events surrounding a book’s release have been going on for months in advance. Now with Covid-19, all those parties and signings have been canceled or postponed. And Indie Bookstores are getting hit particularly hard as state after state enact shelter-in-place orders. Not only are they losing their usual sales, but also the extra income that author events bring in.
Some have argued that the industry will never quite look the same when all this is over. So what’s an author to do? How do you anticipate and position yourself for an altered publishing paradigm?
Well firstly, from what I see, both the indie and traditionally published are postponing their book releases – if at all possible. I have also seen a wave of book advertising online. Everyone is pinning their hopes on ebooks sales. We’re hoping that readers will utilize their Kindles, Nooks, and Ereaders while they’re stuck at home. So even if an author is forced to release his/her book during the middle of the pandemic, we’re praying that it won’t be a total loss.
I can report that I’ve sold more ebooks in March than I did in February. It’s not a huge amount and I was running a sale, but people do seem to be more willing to download an ebook to fill the hours and that is a hopeful sign.
Luckily my book, The Dreams of Demons isn’t due out until June, which means I still have a little time for the virus curve to flatten. How Amazon is doing at the end of May will directly affect my ability to generate a paperback for readers, but the digital version won’t be an issue. It will be ready for purchase and downloadable within days of the file being uploaded.
When I will be able to schedule events and signings again is anyone’s guess. No author knows. And like other indie authors, I rely on those direct interactions and sales to support my book-writing habit.
But back to the question of what will the future of publishing look like…
I personally don’t think the larger picture will look that much different.
- Most authors will never be able to make a living through book sales alone. They will always have a side hustle to pay their bills.
- The big five publishers will continue to consolidate. With the likely sale of Simon & Schuster coming, the big five will become four.
- Small niche and boutique publishers will continue to sprout up. Some will make it, some won’t.
- Indie authors will continue to flood the marketplace with ebooks. And it will continue to be hard to stand out in such a crowded marketplace.
- I believe the ebook market share will enjoy a boost that is directly related to the pandemic, but there will always be readers who will prefer a paperback to an ebook.
- The popularity of Audiobooks will continue to grow and new cost-conscious avenues to creating an audiobook will begin to appear.
- Now whether struggling indie bookstores will come back stronger than ever is anyone’s guess. For obvious reasons, I hope they do.
Here is my smaller picture answer…as an indie author.
- Indie authors will use this time to keep writing their books. Some will forgo creating a paperback version until life is back to normal.
- We will obsess over our sales reports, or lack of reports, and do our utmost to get the best bang for our buck with our online marketing.
- Some authors will panic and give their books away for free. (I won’t, but that’s another blog post.)
- Someone will monetize their websites to sell directly to readers. (Looking into it but I don’t want to take online sales away from brick and mortar stores who carry my books and have an online presence.)
- We will blog.
- We will digitally network with other authors.
- We will read and leave reviews for other authors because we are a community who tends to support each other.
- And we will wait… and hope as we look forward to the day that our in-person events can safely resume.
So yeah, not much different. 🙂