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A Year in Review (Examining my 2013 Publishing Predictions)

At the beginning of every year, I make publishing predictions and next Sunday I’ll post by 2014 predictions but I thought it would be fun to take a look at how I did at the beginning of 2013. (Spoiler: Okay, but not great)

1) Nook Media will be fully divested from Barnes & Noble. (FALSE) I had no idea that nook was selling so poorly at the beginning of the year. The Nook Simple Touch and Nook Tablets ended up losing B&N Media a ton of  money and while there is slow expansion internationally, it’s really through Microsoft’s efforts rather than anything B&N is doing.

2) B&N’s retail space devoted to books will continue to shrink.  This one is probably true although I don’t have any firm numbers. More space seems to be given over to toys, games, and Nook devices.

3) Goodreads will be purchased by Random House & Penguin.  (FALSE but kind of TRUE). I had predicted that Goodreads would be bought by Amazon in 2012 but it didn’t happen but I still saw Goodreads as a prime acquisition target and sure enough in March of 2013, Amazon announced it had purchased Goodreads.

4)  Subscriptions will be offered by Random House & Penguin.  (FALSE) But subscriptions were a big thing in 2013. Oyster, Scribd and a new service called eReatah now called Entitle.

5)  More mergers.  (FALSE) I still think there are more mergers to come. Simon & Schuster has spent crazy acquisition money in 2013 on a lot of books that haven’t panned out so it might be a good target for a buy out.

6)  Ebook growth will be flat.  (TRUE) Most reports say that ebook growth is flat which means it is growing but not at the same pace as it was before. Some people even believe that ebooks will only comprise about 30% of the market. I think that’s wishful thinking but according to Bowker (which seriously underestimates self published numbers), ebook growth is stagnant. Amazon reported that 150 of its KDP authors sold 100,000 copies or more. How many print authors sold that many units?

7)  More self published “imprints”. I’m not sure how I’d quantify my success on this one. Box sets sold by coops were everywhere in 2013 and at the bargain price of 99c, who could resist? Some self published authors like Gemma Halliday have used their own name as a “publishing house.”

8) Romance covers will become less focused on the man titty.  (TRUE) Absolutely yes. While the shaved manchest is still popular, Amazon has been increasingly intolerant of any kind of nudity on covers. Authors like Kit Rocha redid their covers to be more retailer friendly and mainstream publishers went with objects for their big books rather than people.

9)  There will be more author events.  (TRUE) There were indie author events seemingly in every city and every month. Events like Book Bash in Orlando and Naughty Mafia in Las Vegas were huge author/reader get togethers. There are more planned next year and not just in the US but in the UK and Australia. My sources say that authors most often lose money by attending these events but view them as important promotional opportunities.

10)  Amazon predictions.   (TRUE/FALSE) Kindle prices did get low this year and the Nook Simple Touch sold for $39 at one point but Amazon did not offer free Kindles with a Prime membership. It did introduce Kindle Countdown as a new way for indies publishing exclusively through Amazon to promote their books.

DRM stuck around and short fiction is a big deal.

My last prediction was that 40% of the NYTimes books would be self published. I would say that the true number is around 10%.

Overall, I think I did pretty well with my predictions which means for 2014, I really have to stretch and imagine some ridiculous things. If you made predictions about publishing in 2013, how did you do?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

10 Comments

  1. Lia
    Dec 29, 2013 @ 06:23:21

    Excellent job!

    Any thoughts on the winning lottery numbers? :-)

    Look forward to your predictions for 2014.

  2. Holly Bush
    Dec 29, 2013 @ 08:13:08

    I’m a complete sucker for end of year lists and this one has lots of interesting stuff. I thought that Goodreads was a prime target for purchase so I wasn’t surprised in March. And I thought the short fiction craze was here to stay for some period of time.

    You’re absolutely correct about the increase of author/reader events and I don’t see that slowing down in 2014. Cyber connections serve us well but the face-to-face stuff is important groundwork, I think. I attended RT2013 and met readers casually and at the ‘signings’ which was great. But for me, the most beneficial side to an event like this is the chance to meet other authors and make hand-shake connections in an industry where I don’t have any. A publisher umbrella can be helpful for a writer too, but I don’t have a publisher.

    Your 40% NYT prediction may have been on the high side, but 10% is an incredible number, considering the time frame and the cultural change that had to take place to support it in the internal NYT mindset and for their readers as well.

    2014? I’m hoping the advertising/marketing avenues for self pub writers will define themselves. In 3 years I’ve watched fluctuations that seem almost incredulous and with no definitive guide or history, the whole thing’s a crap shoot. Romance covers will continue to follow FSOG . . . until they don’t. NA market will cool. Ebook growth will be flat again, the market will stabilize, I think, and 2014 or 15 will be the bench mark for market share.

  3. Lynne Connolly
    Dec 29, 2013 @ 08:30:50

    Existing author/reader events also blossomed. Registration for RT crashed the new system designed to take higher numbers in hours, although it was back up the next day. And RT is bigger than ever before, with around 2000 plus day passes and the signing event. People are booking earlier, too. It’s a holiday for me, but I also use it as a chance to meet readers I don’t see for most of the year, and to do some research.
    Predictions? The 99 cent book is reaching its tipping point. Writers are beginning to understand that repeat readers are more important than one-offs. You can sell 100,000 copies of one book, but if you want a career as an author, you need to sell the next one, too. And the next.
    Discoverability is another problem that’s coming up hard for the reader. With all those books around, how do we decide what to buy? Freebies are a good way to find a new author, but it’s also a good way to have lots of Stuff clogging up your reader. I don’t have any answers or predictions, except that authors are going to have to spend more to get noticed, and find new ways of bringing their work to the attention of the reader. There is a lot more stuff out there, and while a lot of it is dross, a lot of it isn’t. I’ve read really good books this year that have come out of nowhere. Would I buy that author again? If I remember.
    Markets develop in the same way. the skill is in working out volumes and timing. And one thing about new markets – barriers to entry, whatever they happen to be, will rise.
    And Amazon might, just might, lower its 70% royalty to authors. That will change the game right there.

  4. hapax
    Dec 29, 2013 @ 11:56:14

    I don’t have any one-year predictions, but I have a few five year predictions:
    a) hardback books will become reserved for guaranteed blockbusters and novelty titles (e.g., the new John Grisham and stuff like Abrams’s “S”) — not entirely a bad thing, considering the increasingly shoddy binding and non-existent editing

    b) book jobbers like B&T and Ingram will collapse after their inability to cope with the multiplicity of tiny imprints and self-publishing

    c) related to b — libraries will develop their own software for circulating e-books and will be able to purchase them directly for their collections, instead of being tethered to bloated monstrosities like OverDrive and NetLibrary

  5. Holly Bush
    Dec 29, 2013 @ 13:34:13

    @Holly Bush: Not incredulous. Incredible.

  6. leslie
    Dec 29, 2013 @ 17:09:31

    Excellent job Jane!

  7. Andrea
    Dec 30, 2013 @ 02:49:24

  8. Andrea
    Dec 30, 2013 @ 02:51:00

    Ps. I love my library.

  9. hapax
    Dec 30, 2013 @ 19:27:47

    @Andrea: That is frikkin’ awesome!

    I am forwarding that link to our tech people. Expect your library to be deluged with interest.

  10. Andrea
    Dec 30, 2013 @ 19:37:50

    That’s great! Our library is really awesome. They have a social worker to work in the big downtown location and have a maker space with a 3D printer & eat cetera. They’ve also started little library book vending machines and book returns at some bus stations.

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