What Are the Trends in Publishing? Here Are 10 Mark Coker Identified

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Mark Coker on 10 Publishing Trends

Mark Coker’s Publishing Observations and Predictions

While attending the San Francisco Writers Conference, I decided to drop in on Mark Coker’s session on the ten trends driving publishing now and in the future. Here’s what he had to say:

Trend 1
Look for larger, broader macro trends. Ten years ago, ebooks comprised one-quarter of one percent of the book industry. Today? Half of all books are ebooks, even though over the past three years ebook sales have been stagnant.

Mark noted that ebooks offer a more portable discovery and reading experience, the deliver is instant, and readers can adjust the font size to their personal preferences.
Trend one quarter of one percent of book industry were ebooks ten years ago

[clickToTweet tweet=”Over the past three years ebook sales have been stagnant via @CaballoFrances” quote=”Over the past three years ebook sales have been stagnant “]

Trend 2
Publishing has become democratized. Ten years ago publishers controlled the printing presses and access to distribution. They also controlled the fate of authors.

Ebooks broke down that barrier, and today all authors have access to retail distribution and the tools to reach a broad audience.

Trend 3
Ebooks are going global. A whopping 40 percent of Smashwords’ ebooks are from outside of the U.S.

Trend 4
Mark CokerIndie authorship is a global cultural movement. From this day forward, all authors are indie publishers because they are in control of which direction they go. All authorpreneurs have access to free tools and the knowledge base to publish as a professional.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Indie authorship is a global cultural movement via @CaballoFrances” quote=”Indie authorship is a global cultural movement”]

Self-published authors also have total control over pricing, can retain their rights, and have better access to global distribution. Because indie authors have pricing control, they can offer their books at a lower cost to readers, making it more affordable for readers to enjoy books. And, self-published authors don’t have to put up with the 12% to 16% royalty rates that trade publishers offer their writers.

Trend 5
Indie authors are hitting the bestseller lists. And Mark noted that we’re just a few years away from the majority of ebooks being sold by self-published authors. Every year indies are getting more and more market share of ebooks, although this can vary by retailer and genre.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Indie authors routinely hit the bestseller lists via @CaballoFrances” quote=”Indie authors routinely hit the bestseller lists “]

Trend 6

Mark noted, “The stigma of self-publishing is disappearing.” Previously, people would self-publish “in shame,” and be known as a “vanity author.” But over last ten years, once ebooks became democratized, these books started selling, and perceptions started changing.

E.L. James, the author of 50 Shades of Grey, was the first indie author to sell over 1 million ebooks. “Nothing speaks like commercial success,” Mark said.

The control of self-publishing is important to some authors who want to make decisions on pricing, release dates, etc., and indie authors have this control.

Trend 7

Mark noted that presently there’s a glut of high-quality, low-cost books. He also noted that the supply of books is outstripping demand, a trend that will “continue forever.” Therefore, there’s an ultra-competitive environment for book selling, and future authors will likely sell fewer books.

[clickToTweet tweet=”There’s a glut of high-quality, low-cost books via @CaballoFrances” quote=”There’s a glut of high-quality, low-cost books “]

Trend 8

Mark, as the founder of Smashwords, naturally spoke about Amazon. He believes that Amazon is exploiting the glut of books on the market now. “When there is a glut, sellers compete on price … and Amazon is driving prices down,” Mark said.

While some authors prefer the KDP Select program, Mark noted that  KDP Select comes at a price to other online retailers. KDP Select now has more than 1 million books in its program. Mark believes this program is “training readers to devalue books” and is driving the “commoditization of books.”

The benefits to an author of the KDP Select program is that Amazon will give you a preferential sales advantage and discoverability. If you don’t select the program, your book will be less discoverable on Amazon’s website.

Finally, Mark added, Amazon has access to 70% of readers.

Trend 9

You can go to any product page for a book on Amazon in the KDP Select program and Amazon will first advertise that the book is free under the Kindle Unlimited program. Large publishers recognize that Amazon is devaluing books.

Trend 10

Self-publishers are driving the industry. As an indie author, you can decide when and how you want your book to be published. He said, “The future is up to what authors do next.”

He also noted that Amazon isn’t evil; it’s just feeding our gluttony for books and that Amazon’s tactics come at a cost to authors and publishers. “We need to find a way to tame the beast,” Mark said.

Mark encouraged authors to say no to exclusivity. “If you select exclusivity, you are putting other retailers out of business.”

Regarding trade publishers, Mark noted that they need to reinvent themselves and start serving authors first. Mark feels that if trade publishers were capable of publishing every author that submitted a manuscript, they could help to undermine Amazon’s power.

Presently, Amazon has 70% of the book market share. Amazon is followed by Apple in sales and then by Barnes & Noble and Kobo. He feels that if the B&N and Kobo are unable to sell sufficient books, they will be forced out of business.

Interestingly, he noted that Apple and Google don’t need to make money in book sales. As long as they break even, they’re happy and that they are in the business of books for the long run.

What do you think of Mark’s insights and predictions about the publishing industry?

Frances CaballoThe author of this blog: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference. In addition, she’s a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com, and blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks. She’s written several social media books including The Author’s Guide to Goodreads and Social Media in 30 Minutes a Day. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for my free email course.

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  1. M L Hutchinson says

    I love the article. However, Trend 6 indicates, Amanda Hocking, the author of 50 Shades of Grey, was the first indie author to sell over 1 million ebooks. “Nothing speaks like commercial success,” Mark said. The statement is incorrect as E L James is the author of Fifty Shades of Grey.

  2. Excellent article. It’s exciting to see what’s opened up for self-published authors. At the same time, traditional publishers do play an important role in bringing us great books and having the know-how to make a book better and, at times, help it reach a broader audience. I seems both unfair and unfortunate that Amazon has so much power (isn’t this “restraint of trade?”) I like Mark’s suggestion that authors can say “no” to exclusivity. And yet, I can see how hard it is to put one’s book at a disadvantage by doing that. Hard to keep the long run in mind as one player. It sounds like the kind of thing that would take a concerted effort through indie author associations and organizations for it to work.

  3. Here is a trend that didn’t make your list: the term independently published will replace self published. Just like in the film industry, independently published books, like independent films, will compete on equal grounds with the main publishers. No body ever bought a book based on who published it.

  4. From EL James’s website: “Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed were never self-published as these novels. An earlier version of this story began as Twilight fan fiction which was posted on the internet. The trilogy was picked up by an Australian publisher, The Writer’s Coffee Shop, who released them as e-books and print-on-demand paperbacks.” It was then picked up by Penguin Random House.

    The myth that this series was self pubbed is just that.

  5. How do we writers living in Africa, really become part of what’s happening in the global publishsphere? We are still largely shut out!

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