Those of you who follow Ramblings from a Writers Mind will know at this time of year I write about trends and marketing projections for the forthcoming year.
On December the 15th 2017, I published ‘Insights & Publishing Trends for 2018’, in which I mentioned Data Breaches, GDRP, Narrative (Native) Advertising, the rise of Hybrid publishing, Books Shelf Life, the growth of Audiobooks and more. The post is still available to read HERE
I think you will find I was scarily accurate.
This post, my Insights and Projections for 2019, I hope will prove to be just as precise.
The following opinion is more than me simply licking my finger and holding it aloft to see which way the wind is blowing. It is from information accrued from a number of respected sources including;
CQ International Publishing, TOAD Publishing, Amazon.com, China South Publishing & Media, Hachette Book, Holtzbrinck Publishing, Penguin Random House, Phoenix Publishing and Media, Bonnier, Bungeishunju, China Publishing Group, De Agostini Editore, Planeta, HarperCollins Publishers, Informa, Kadokawa Publishing, Kodansha, and Sanoma Media
The following conclusions are a distillate of studying reports regarding;
Consumer Print Book Publishing, Consumer Digital Book Publishing, Market Size, Differential Market Regions, Main Consumer Profiling, Regional Production, and Demand Forecasts by Countries etc.
My 2019 report
It is important for Indie Authors and publishers to be aware of the industries shifting patterns, particularly as the market is more competitive than ever before.
While it is continuing to get easier to publish books, the general trend is for people to spend less time reading books.
In the USA the decline has plummeted by almost one-third since 2004.
Measure this against the rise of digital publishing and print-on-demand, the two main elements driving indie growth by making it accessible to almost everyone, and you can see there is a shrinking market which is flooding ‘over the brim’.
Way back in 2014 Amazon published figures showing a new book was published every five minutes. Some now estimated this figure to be one new book every thirty-seconds.
One thing which surprises many aspiring authors is when they learn eBooks are still lagging far behind the popularity of print books.
A survey earlier this year, (2018), showed 67% of people said they read at least one print book in the preceding 12 months in comparison to only 26% having read an eBook during the same time period. A decline of 2% from the 2016 survey.
This may be due to several factors, these are some of the most voiced:
You don’t need power to read a print book.
They [print books] are not as fragile, so best when travelling to remote and rugged regions.
Print books fit into pockets and pouches easily, (referring to jamming them in and rolling them.)
You cannot prop up a wobbly table with an electronic device. (also… cannot use to swat spiders/flies etc.)
You cannot lend/pass on/swap electronic books as you can print books.
Print books are tougher and resist damage better. (You can drop, stand on printed books.)
Digital audio is, as I predicted, a major area of growth during 2018 and will continue to grow rapidly during this  year.
In fact, 25% of all Harper Collins digital revenue in the first quarter of 2018 was created from digital audio. This figure increased to 43% for Simon & Schuster, while Audible UK’s revenue grew by 45% from the previous year .
Areas of audiobook growth to consider are the sight impaired, where reading print or digital display is difficult, impracticable or impossible.
The second sector to consider is group listening. This is clearly applicable for educational establishments, but the marketplace also caters for businesses, training/coaching/group bonding/team building etc.
I think it wise to contemplate specialist books written for relaxation therapy, traumatic recovery, inspirational and positive reinforcement.
With these and other, as yet, unexplored market areas it may be worth looking closely at the current expanding audiobook market and to research the potential of new and unexplored market segments.
We can expect to see the continued growth of Hybrid Publishing.
The attraction of Hybrid, especially to new and inexperienced indie authors, is the benefits of having the ‘middle-ground.’
While authors (mostly) maintain creative control and revenue creation, the enlisted aid from experts (usually) ensure quality and help with market reach.
Some of the traditional publishing houses are now creating collaborative arms of their businesses to harness the rise of Hybrid publishing.
I think this route may be worth considering when entering the audiobook market as it can be an investment and time-consuming task with many pitfalls.
Be prepared for a major publishing‘Cover war’ during 2019.
The new designers and predicted trends for this year will make cover designs a prime factor in all book marketing, in both on and off-line sales.
Pantone has already revealed their colour trend forecast for 2019 so, this year, use bold colours if you want your work or business to stand out. Yellows, orange, pink, and bright blues, in combinations and in contrast all form part of this year’s mix.
Big book design. By big book, I mean copying and using the design keys which are traditionally reserved for famous authors with massive track records.
Crossing out. One element often seen on established authors books has found its way to the smaller author. Often combining handwriting over a font.
This fresh take adds a vibe of revision and restlessness, introducing the idea that the author thought about the title, crossed out words and made changes.
Geometric asymmetry is a big one, combined with geometric shapes and 3d renders. (With complimentary animated variations used in online promotions).
Gradients have seen a huge comeback in late 2017-2018 and are here to stay during 2019. With Apple and Instagram using them in their branding, this is a winning choice in 2019 for book covers too.
Bold fonts, with typography, are getting more and more into the spotlight. In some cases, typography is replacing prime images. Typography is now bigger and bolder, making it a trend for this year’s predictions. The winning combination, when you are using a big font is minimalism, otherwise, the design can be overcrowded and not really appealing.
1, League Gothic and close derivative fonts, once usually reserved for Crime and Thriller novels will be touted for other genres.
2, Lydian font has re-emerged in late 2018, leggy, light and gender neutral, I see it continuing its resurgence in literary fiction and then spreading to nonfiction.
Florals. Floral backgrounds will be trending and not only for romance but mixed with masculine elements, such as bold fonts. Illustrations of flowers and plants are ‘on trend’ for 2019.
What makes this floral trend different is the flowers tend to heavily interact and even obscure the text elements on some of this year’s biggest covers. Something else which makes this trend unique: these botanicals are eschewing tradition and finding their way onto covers of books written by both women and men.
Overlapping Elements, previously it was taboo to have images overlapping the text on a books cover. No more. The new designers are ignoring this rule, with some wonderful outcomes.
Implemented cleverly, this can give a 3d-(ish) effect to a flat 2d image.
Hyperrealism. This generally favours non-fiction. These are cover designs which integrate the information about the book into a familiar product or household item.
Whether made from newspaper clippings, food wrappers or even projector slides, these hyper-real covers create effortless nostalgia and a feeling a wistfulness by taking something expected from our life and introducing it into an entirely new setting.
Expect more make-you-look-twice designs like these coming in the next year.
Modern illustration. Illustrated book covers have been having a well-recognized moment, the likes of which we have not seen since the mid-century era. This resurgence reflects the like of those old ‘trippy’ Penguin Classics.
Book cover design trends in 2019 look like they will be defined by contradiction.
Some designers will continue to push boundaries and move to edgier places, while others choose to embrace the typefaces and illustration styles of earlier eras.
Both directions mean readers’ shelves will be filled with gorgeous and fresh jackets.
If you are looking for a special, outstanding designed book cover then contact the award-winning artist designer, PeeJay.
PeeJay designs only take on a few new clients in any given year but you may lucky enough to become one of them. PeeJaydesigns@mail.com
Passive Aggressive Marketing is the key for a successful 2019.
‘Passive’ as in subtle engagement with your audience and building trusted relationships.
‘Aggressive’ applies to the consistency, continuity and visibility of your promotions. If you are not constantly seen your competitors will be.
One of the prime areas of being indie is the ability to successfully marketing your book(s).
This does not mean simply putting in a big effort on the publication/release of your book, but a continuous, ongoing, planned marketing strategy which is well implemented and executed.
The key word is ‘Ongoing’.
Amazon, for instance, has a vast online activity where your book is swallowed-up and made to disappear instantaneously. Even ‘successful’ books and those considered ‘still-relevant’ can get buried quickly if the marketing effort is not constant.
The torrent of new titles and advertising from new authors and mainstream publishing houses will swallow-up any effort that is not effective and constant.
Without this continued attention, your book may become irrelevant quickly, losing visibility under an avalanche of newer releases in its category. Think of it as having your book available in a giant bookstore, crowded with millions of new releases. (Which it is.)
My suggestion for 2019 is authors will benefit from long-term marketing strategies. Margins may be lower and slower as a result, but the longer-term benefits will make-up for any short-term shortfall.
Creating an ongoing marketing campaign is like paying to keep your book on a display in the front of the store, with ads visible right when customers walk in, instead of letting it move to a shelf in the back. It will have a noticeable effect on sales.
Staying a step ahead of these book publishing trends can make the difference between turning out a bestseller or just another drop in an ocean of self-published work that falls short of its full potential.
This is a transitional time for the publishing industry and these changes will only accelerate through 2019.
Content marketing has been steadily growing for several years now.
More and more businesses realise the long-term ROI (return of investment) of brand-owned content. 2018 was a big year for content; recent studies have shown content marketing revenue is projected to exceed $300 billion by 2019. 86% of B2C marketers think content marketing is a key marketing strategy. Content marketing generates over 4x more leads than PPC per $1000 within 36 months.
Most businesses seem to publish content only because they have heard, “Content is king” or because they saw competitors trying to put out some content too.
Publishing content for the sake of publishing content is useless.
An effective content strategy involves a lot of analysing, organizing and planning. It may be tough, but it is the only way to go if you want to see your content drive traffic and conversions.
Gone are the days where content means the blog posts your company writes. Instead, content marketing now includes a diverse set of content types and multiple channels to push them through.
Chances are that if you’re already using social media, you are doing content marketing to some extent. The next step is to get a strategy in place.
Content marketing is taking any type of content (digital or physical) and purposefully sending it out to your audience. Adding a strategy to this means you have thought about your goals, audiences and distribution channels.
There are quite a few types of content out there now, with new channels being developed every year. Part of being a good content marketer is being able to learn new types and be open to experimentation. Relatively new to the scene is user-generated social media content which can be used as part of your strategy.
This is a non-exhaustive list to help you think about what type of content you may want to consider.
Blog posts, Branded blog posts, User-generated content like an Instagram post, Videos, Podcasts, Infographics, Photos, Webinars, Quizzes, Press releases, News and magazine articles.
Unfortunately, in a world where everyone is connected, one poorly timed, or poorly worded message could destroy your brand reputation.
Taking the above information into consideration, it shows there are two main factors to contemplate in creating a successful marketing strategy for 2019 and beyond.
From this moment onwards, promotional tactics must focus on brand building and audience engagement.
Do not just take my word.
This is what some market-leading professionals have to say;
“In 2019 it seems that the brands who excel in cultivating community and brand loyalty will be the most successful. This means brands need to find their niche audience (instead of trying to be everything to everyone) and support them – through authentic content, top-notch customer service, and surprise-and-delight experiences.” Emily Hughes, Loup Digital
“2019 will be about using video. Facebook is going to continue to decline in reach so SEO will continue to be a top priority.” Melissa Chowning, Founder of Twenty-First Digital
“Going forward, I feel that small online publishers won’t have a future if they try to be all things to all people. So, we are always looking at what we do best and doubling down on that. The Pareto Principle at play, as ever. Our strength is the trust we have built with our users, the quality of our editorial, and the relationships we have with our writers and key players in the media.” Mark Hodson, Co-founder, and editor of 101 Holidays
“In 2019, we will continue to focus on developing great content for our audience and look for new ways to expand our reach. As always, we’ll experiment with new technologies but will always keep the end user experience as a top priority.” Dianna Dilworth, Editor in Chief at Marketers Quarterly
“My primary focus in 2019 will be building new and building on current relationships. The best way to learn about market trends, challenges, and opportunities are to spend time with the people dealing with them first hand. It’s essential to gain an understanding of what’s important to the people who comprise the different areas of your industry to best serve that industry. The reality is, business isn’t “just business”; it’s personal — and, personally, I enjoy getting to know the people who make the marketing industry come alive.“ Ginger Conlon, U.S. Editor in Chief at The Drum
The common threads here are; brand building by engagement of the audience, creating and cultivating community, delivering high-quality content and service, creating partnership and relationships with other organisations and using new technologies.
Last year, after my 2018 report (published Dec 2017), as part of my belief in my own predictions, I created a marketing opportunity for indie authors I called Electric Eclectic.
During 2018 Electric Eclectic built the foundations and established a working formula for a long-term marketing strategy, much based on the industry pattern shifts detected through 2018 and projections for 2019.
Electric Eclectic takes into consideration the need for constant ongoing promotion, for narrative engagement with potential readers (our audience), delivering great service and products while creating mutually beneficial partnerships and relations with individuals and organisations.
In 2019, Electric Eclectic will be considering requests for a small, select number of authors to join our marketing programme.
If you are interested please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Electric Eclectic website: http://bit.ly/visitEEbooks
Electric Eclectic on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElectricEclecticBooks/
The Electric Eclectic App on Google Play: http://bit.ly/2GFyarv
There are two books ALL indie authors, regardless of experience, should have in their reference library.
Neither is a ‘How to’ book or ‘Step by step guide’.
Instead, they are full of relevant and enlightening information you can utilise to your own advantage.
‘The Frugal Author’
https://amzn.to/2GH9HC7, as the cover suggests, this is all about creating and publishing your book at the lowest possible costs while keeping the quality high.
‘Lots of Author Stuff you Need to Know’
https://amzn.to/2GGwL3L is full of lots of stuff you really do need to know as an Indie author. This book includes pertinent material such as book parts, when and how to use them, industry word count for various genres, copyright, formatting, stuff about literary agents and much, much more.
I strongly suggest you arm yourself with both of these eBooks, which you can download NOW, using the links above.
Other marketing tools you need to be making more use of in 2019 are:
With more than 330 million monthly active users Twitter should not be overlooked this year.
Latest figures reveal around 51% of Twitter users earn more than $50,000 dollars per year. That is a vast amount of purchasing power. Advertise directly, but utilise Twitters reach to drive traffic to your blog, website and product pages while engaging with your followers.
Twitter cards have more visibility than a regular tweet, allow for immersive interactions while making your tweets attractive encouraging conversation from your audience.
The result of image-based tweets greater exposure with figures suggesting up to 55% increase in leads and a 41% jump of re-tweets.
Check out the four types of Twitter cards available and use/mix & match each style as needed.
We all know Twitter changed its word limit from 140 characters to 280 and allowed images in addition to character count. But did you know you can create follow-on tweets from the drop down?
Want even more? Then try Longertweets.com and read their blog at automaticallytweet.com
You can also use WordPress plugins Tweetly, Tweet Old Post, Tweetable and WP to Twitter to boost and organise your Twitter presence.
Time and organisation.
Scheduling tools may make the difference between success and failure of your book sales this year if you do not have time to be constantly posting and promoting manually.
Having the right scheduling tools on deck can help you save time and push out more content to your audience. The more of your social strategy you put on autopilot, the more time you have to connect with your followers in real time.
The trick is to pick the right social media scheduling tools for you.
Take time to browse them and select the one(s) which offer you solutions to your own situation.
My prediction is for Instagram to be a key element in narrative engagement marketing this year.
The greater your Instagram reach, the more eyes you can get on your brand’s visual content.
With over a billion monthly active users and a constant flood of content, now’s the time to rethink how you can extend the lifespan of any piece of Instagram content and, of course, your reach.
Cross-posting content, that is placing the same/identical content on several social media platforms within the same timeframe. Starbucks marketing is a prime example of how to do this well.
Although you should not cross-post everything. The bulk of your Instagram content should be exclusive to Instagram.
BUT… Pinterest posts should be cross-pollinating because the Pinterest platform is designed to be ‘Evergreen’ in terms of network search. Therefore, it is a prime place to house your Instagram posts.
If you do not already know, Pinterest allows you to ‘Claim’ your Instagram account and your YouTube account. Check it out.
Pinterest also provides your brand content attribution, meaning that you can drive more Pinterest traffic directly to Instagram.
I have not yet delved into the recently launched IGTV… Instagram Television… but I shall and will report back on this blog during the forthcoming year.
IGTV is still in its early stages but considers that any followers you gain on IGTV translate to your regular account. Furthermore, the platform allows for heavy tagging and links to drive more attention to your Instagram content and promotions alike.
But that does not mean you should dismiss it out of hand. Go take a shuftie and see what potential you think IGTV holds for you.
The question here is Facebook throwing the baby out with the bathwater?
I don’t think so… at least not yet.
Kicking off 2018 with a reach-rocking algorithm shift, the social giant is now throwing some business owners for a loop with some recent changes to their Pages platform.
The new Facebook Page publishing authorization is something that brands of all shapes and sizes should be aware of.
These rule changes are part of Facebook’s reaction to threatened Government governance of the net and the many major security and data breaches in the last few years. One of the reasons Google is closing their social media platform, Google Plus, in January 2019.
You can read my post on this subject at HERE
Facebook told me that,
“Our goal is to prevent organizations and individuals from creating accounts that mislead people about who they are or what they’re doing. These updates are part of our continued efforts to increase authenticity and transparency of Pages on our platform.”
In short, Facebook is looking to fight disinformation and guarantee to users that Page owners are who they say they are. The Facebook Page publishing authorization provides a straightforward line of defence to achieve both of these goals.
If affected, you will see an alert banner like the one above in your News Feed. You will be asked to confirm your identity and likewise consistently reminded to do so until you go through the process.
Even if you take issue with Facebook questioning your identity, it’s best to simply go along with it if you want to stay in the good graces of the platform. Facebook seems to understand the inconvenience and has made the verification process quite simple as a result.
Remember, so much of social media is about rolling with the punches. Platforms change, rules change. It happens. These are private companies with commercial interests, they are not free public services and no one has an undeniable right to use any of them.
Expect Facebook to roll out many more security influenced changes during 2019.
That’s about it for one post, so I’ll close for now, leaving you with the following message.
As someone who enjoys reading a ‘good book’, you will not go far astray picking one or more of these ‘must reads for 2019’ as selected by from CQI Magazine.
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