Well 2014 is five hours away New Zealand time, and I think it's time to start guessing what the new year holds for us indies. So here are my predictions and if they prove to be slightly amiss I claim its due to the after effects of bad egg nog!
1. Free. For the past year we have seen Amazon moving away from free. To be fair the trend was always predictable, they were counting on free to boost sales of kindles and perhaps bring other people into their book stores. But in 2012 they changed their algorhythms in a clear sign that free was costing them too much for too little revenue. In 2013 they introduced Countdown as an inducement to authors to discount rather than go free. And my prediction would be in 2014 the trend will continue. The days of free are not numbered but they are going to be restricted.
2. The big five / Barnes and Noble. Konrath has predicted that 2014 will be the year for bankruptcies / retrenchment for these players in the book world. I'm not so sure of that. Notwithstanding the fact that I haven't seen their books, I don't think these guys are going to simply roll over and play dead. They will fight. And my guess is that their fight will involve a number of strategies.
a) They'll start realising that book selling is turning into an electronic business more and more. So my thought is that their big sellers will be full priced, and that everything else will be more competitively priced on the various e media.
b) They're going to start using their stable of authors more and more heavily. This means not just looking for the next blockbuster, but also boosting their mid sellers. So their authors will be producing more books and getting them published quicker (after all editing and cover design doesn't have to take a year). This will be good news for trade published authors.
c) They're going to boost their stable of authors. More authors equates to more books to sell. So expect them to start hunting through the indies and their submissions looking for more prospective authors they can quickly publish at least in ebook format. This is good and bad news for indies as it means more chance of being picked up by a publisher, but also more competition.
3. The hybrid author. My thought is that 2014 will be the year the hybrid author (authors both trade and indie published) will really take off. Partly that will be driven by publishers. After all if they already have an author on their books and his back list, it's a very short process to republish the out of print issues, and it's a quick source of revenue. Partly this will be driven by the authors themselves, as more and more of them realise that they have the rights to their own back lists, and it's not that hard to publish them themselves as ebooks. And as the survey discussed previous showed, not all trade published authors are making a living from their writing.
4. The quality seal of approval. This is a topic that comes up in the indie world year after year. There is no doubt that authors and readers alike would benefit greatly from having some sort of standards body to help sort the wheat from the chaff. But my prediction however, is that despite all the calls for it, this will not come to pass any time soon. There are simply too many hurdles in the way.
5. Indie service providers. There is no doubt that the indie publishing world is a boom market. More and more books are being published by more and more authors. And all of those books need marketing, cover design, editing, not all of which can be done by the author. So as the industry booms, so too will the numbers of people providing services to indies. My prediction is that this trend will continue. This will include both the legitimate service providers, and the rip off merchants, vanity publishers and the like.
6. Sales. Sorry guys, this predictions a bit of a downer. More and more books are being published every year, and it's becoming harder and harder to get your new book noticed. So my thought is that while overall book sales will continue to increase, the average number of sales per author will decrease. And on top of that it will become more and more difficult for new authors to get a start. Those who do well will more likely be the better established authors with reputations and back catalogues, and those who know how to market.
7. Bricks and Mortar Bookstores. Yeah times are hard, stores are closing and more and more people are going on line for their reads. This trend will continue. Those stores that survive will have to innovate, and it likely will not be the smaller stores.
8. Me. Yes for me it will be a big year as I predict that I will finally sprout wings and go flying with the pigs down the road!
Happy new year to all, and as always, be good or don't get caught.