Publishing Trends to Watch in 2017

Jordan Dane


Jordan Dane purchased image from Shutterstock

I’ve been involved in many “experiments” lately, like Amazon Marketing Services and Amazon Kindle Worlds. I plan to get more familiar with Kindle Unlimited with my upcoming release in Feb – Mr. January. Retaining my copyrights and self-publishing this book, I can explore more marketing tools to see how effective I can be. So I thought I would list some of these things to watch in 2017 as I see them. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on trends you see as important in 2017 or marketing efforts you have had success with. Join in the discussion in your comments.

Publishing Trends to Watch in 2017

Marketing Power of Digital – Print books are expected to continue a comeback in 2017, but for anyone publishing fiction, e-books drive sales and are easier to promote since social media and reader websites offer more economical ways to promote. Digital is the gift that keeps giving in that each book is on a forever shelf. Any author can recreate interest in a back list novel by repackaging the work with a new cover or new content or bundling as part of a box set. (See more on this below in “Over-crowded Digital Book Shelves.”) It’s easier for an author or publisher to focus marketing efforts in the digital arena since it’s cost effective and the exposure can be much greater, but with all the e-book competition, marketing strategies will be more important in 2017.

Small Presses & Savvy Self-Publishers are Growing – The larger traditional publishers market shares are dropping each year. Over 50% of the market share is comprised of self-publishing authors, small boutique publishers, and Amazon imprints. The challenge comes when trying to navigate this new sea of 50-percenters. Simply discounting an ebook or offering it for free won’t cut it. That makes marketing and visibility more strategic in 2017. Amazon is offering their Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) to smaller houses and indie authors. With sales stats to track the effectiveness of this AMS marketing tool, it is an easy way for authors to try it and see how it results in sales vs cost to promote.

Amazon Imprints Are Dominating – In 2016, 7 out of 10 Kindle bestsellers were from Amazon Imprints. Is there an advantage to selling a book to Amazon in 2017 when it comes to their sales ranking algorithms? I don’t know, but if anyone knows how to maximize visibility and preferential marketing spots on Amazon, it would be their own imprints, don’t you think? When traditional houses offer bare minimum of support to most mid-list authors, selling to Amazon feels like an author has a leg up on marketing and promotion when the buyer is an Amazon imprint. An Amazon imprint could give any author an edge in marketing strategy in 2017.

Kindle Unlimited Expanding – More readers in 2017 will be finding benefits to the Kindle Unlimited program and Amazon markets their program effectively. This growth trend will undoubtedly affect e-book sales and I’m sure Amazon will find more incentives for authors to try their program. I see this program expanding in 2017 to keep Amazon dominating.

Kindle KDP Select Enhancements Provide Better Outreach – If you are part of the Kindle KDP Select Program, where you publish only through Amazon for a given period of time, you are automatically enrolled in Kindle Unlimited AND the Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL) and will earn different enhanced royalties as incentive. The KDP Select program also provides for better royalties globally (70%) in countries like Japan, India, Brazil and Mexico. Plus authors can expand their outreach through Kindle Unlimited in the US, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, India, Japan, and Australia. (My reader fans have complained that Kindle Worlds books aren’t available for distribution yet into their countries, but until that happens, any books I have through KDP Select is available to many of my readers.)

Over-crowded Digital Book Shelves – New e-books have to compete with the over-crowded digital shelves of digital books in 2017 that never go out of inventory. The good news is that there is endless space for digital books forever. The bad news is that authors must compete with a growing mass of books competing for readership. Don’t forget your back list, authors. Redesign your covers, obtain new praise blurbs or write new book jacket copy, get new reviews, and spend marketing dollars toward generating new interest in your tried-and-true back list. The bigger your inventory for a reader to “discover,” the more visibility you can achieve and your promo dollars can go a longer way.

Audiobook Market Is Growing – I haven’t focused on this enough, but with indie authors able to use ACX to create an indie audio book, it’s worth a shot to make your own audio book in 2017 (if you haven’t sold your audio sub-rights). It’s always a good thing to make your book available in as many formats as you can – plus you get to retain your sub-rights in audio.

Marketing Strategy Will Be More Important Than Ever – This is a tough one for me and my biggest challenge. I try new things all the time to stay effective. I’ve seen good and track-able success in Amazon Marketing Services, but there are other marketing tools, such as BookBub, Freebooksy, and Bargain Booksy. In 2017, continue to expand your marketing strategies and evaluate what is working and drop what isn’t.

Facebook Ads Declining – I’ve never been a fan of Facebook. Their ads might not seem too costly, but unless you have a good metric to establish whether these ads are truly effective and result in actual sales, it doesn’t matter how much they cost. Some authors have used FB ads to increase their mailing lists, but for actual book sales, I haven’t seen anyone who can analyze this. With Amazon Marketing Services being a better option, with sales data tied to the promo, it is a much better option.

Try Expanding Your Foreign Sales in 2017 – Part of anyone’s sub-rights are foreign sales. If you have an agent, they could be marketing this for you “a la carte” or your publisher might have gotten your foreign rights when you sold to them. These foreign sub-rights have value and a potential for growth. And if you’re lucky enough to get your back list rights returned to you, try marketing to international markets. Many international buyers love American authors. If you’re an indie author on Amazon, you would notice the foreign markets they list when you set up your book, but there are other international markets. An agent or broker might be able to enhance your sales by tapping into this resource. Some may take English language “as is” or they may require language translation, but they pay an advance for the rights. It could be worth exploring in 2017 to expand beyond US and UK readers.

Authors Find Safety in Numbers – In 2017, expect to see more authors banding together in projects where marketing and promo can be shared. Co-writing books and creating box sets can generate buzz. Authors have always been generous with other authors and it warms my heart to see this, but it also makes good sense. The best part of the Amazon Kindle Worlds books comes from the cross promotion of all the launch authors banding their efforts together. We share our readerships with all the other authors, but get a lot in return. The concept of the Kindle Worlds launches and cross-promotions is a real benefit for all authors involved.

1.) What trends have you noticed that you’d like to share with your TKZ family?

2.) What marketing tools have you tried and had success with? Please share.

Mr. JanuaryMercer’s War Book 1 coming Feb 2017 in print and ebook

Zoey Meager risks her life to search for her best friend Kaity in a burning warehouse, only to cross paths in the inferno with Mr. January, a mysterious man with a large black dog, completely devoted to its shadowy master.


14 thoughts on “Publishing Trends to Watch in 2017

  1. Mr January is an excellent title! (I have a book out called Dr January. Totally different genre though – I write romance.)

    I’m hearing a lot about ACX and audio. There was quite a lot about it on the DBW17 twitter feed.

    • I’ve put together an ACX audio book before. Didn’t know what I was doing but Audible gave me a bit of money toward my production cost to incentivize me to finish it. It turned out great.

      The ACX site has everything you need – contracts to get a deal started, voice talent to have them audition, and production contacts. It’s the self-publishing of audio.

  2. Great information, Jordan. Thank you. I’m finding an agent search an extremely tough nut to crack and am definitely leaning towards Kindle and welcome all the information I can find out about it.

    • Agents are tough to get. I haven’t looked into it but there may be brokers for foreign sub-rights or authors who have banded together to create a catalog of available rights. That’s what traditional publishers do. They add your rights to a catalog, put some promotional material about your book in it, and make it available to foreign rights agencies over the globe. The biggest challenge would be to make sure anyone listed in the catalog has the quality. This type of catalog could be for authors who have gotten their copyrights back and have books already vetted by a larger house. I like this idea and hope someone does this, if they haven’t already. Thanks, Barbara.

  3. I can’t wait to read Mr. January!

    On the marketing front, I’ve been so busy lately that I’ve neglected my books (bad, bad, bad). I’ve used FB ads with success, and I do have a sellers account with Amazon, but I haven’t tested ads there yet. It sounds like a better place to advertise. I did retain my foreign rights and I’ve been in talks with an agent about selling them. We’ll wait and see how that plays out. Thanks for all these tips, Jordan. I’m so excited to be involved with the Kindle Worlds!!!

    • Hi Sue.

      I think an author has to try a number of things to keep moving forward and progressing their goals. Sounds like you’re doing that. Kindle Worlds is a good option for some authors who are game to expand their readership and are willing to join in promo with other authors to do this. The shorter writing lengths of Kindle Worlds make it a good option for someone wanting to fill in the gaps in their writing schedule with something new to try.

  4. I hate FB ads. If they disappear entirely and forever, I’ll be thrilled.

    Thanks for compiling this information, and best wishes with Mr. January!

    • EXACTLY, Staci. I’ve never been a fan of FB ads/promo. I use FB for release day parties & cross-promoting with other authors for Amazon Kindle World releases. It works greatfor some things but I don’t trust FB to make my posts public or even readable to my followers.

      Thanks for your well wishes on my next book, Staci.

  5. I find it scary that so many of these revolve around Amazon.
    I’ve got 2 more audiobooks in production, which keeps my “new releases” going without me having to write as many new books.

    • I like how you’re fully utilizing the opportunity with audio books, Terry. I would imagine audio is another reason to market to libraries too.

      I agree that Amazon dominates the marketplace, but that’s been happening for quite awhile. They have a vision into the future & implement it with precision. Why aren’t larger publishers or other distributors doing this? I think it’s hard to catch up to the overall Amazon strategy & their infrastructure.

  6. The best way to get a book noticed by the masses it to have it made in to a movie or t.v. series. Video is popular. How about making a movie version of your novel for online viewing?

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