The 2016 Publishing Shift

In any industry, there is such a vast amount of knowledge that you should know in order to be successful in it. Knowing what’s ‘in’, what’s ‘out’, what’s ‘hot’, and what’s ‘not’ is essential. Publishing is one of those industries, for better or worse. It’s exciting to watch the publishing market evolve over time, but it can also leave you staring at your computer screen asking yourself, “Wait, when did that become a thing?” In publishing, trends happen fast and we need to be able to catch them while they are still here. Lucky for us publishing professionals and authors, we have awesome people sifting through this information for us- like the wonderful people at Written Word Media. They have read through all the most important articles (like those by Mark Coker Jane Friedman, and Joanna Penn) about the publishing industry going into 2016 for us. I wish everything was this easy. Here’s the ten most important publishing trends to keep your eye on this coming year:


  1. The indie market is still growing.

Indie authors make up 20% of the publishing industry- that’s actually a pretty big number it’s only continuing to grow each day. Indie authors have proved that consumers care about pricing. Just because your book is priced low, doesn’t mean you aren’t going to make money. Lower prices entice more readers. Indie’s have pricing flexibility that traditional publishers do not have and that has played a key role to their success.

2. Amazon is asking for better quality. 

Starting February 3rd, Amazon is taking down any books that include any reported typos, grammatical errors, or other mistakes with formatting etc. until the author fixes them. Amazon has been a great outlet for authors to get their work published. Anyone can publish anything they want, which I have always been a fan of. But, that has led to a lot of sub-par books being put out on the market for consumption and readers aren’t happy with that. Would you be happy with a new car that stalled out every couple minutes? I don’t think so. So, why should a reader be happy with a book that has an error every other sentence? It’s distracting and unattractive. To learn more about what will happen if Amazon does this to your book and how you can avoid it, check out the full article for yourself. They give some helpful tips.

3. You need to be mobile friendly.

Almost everyone searches the internet on their cell phones. Smart phone cell phone usage has risen 392% between 2010-2014 and I don’t think that number is getting any smaller any time soon. If your website is not mobile friendly, it’s going to be very hard for your fans to navigate and they are likely not going to come back then they can get their hands on an actual computer. It’s estimated that about 60% of your visitors will be using a mobile device- that’s a lot!

4. Amazon KDP is a love-hate relationship for many.

Amazon is always rolling out new programs for their authors. Some are met with enthusiasm and others… not so much. KDP Select is one of those programs that I keep hearing mixed reviews about. Many authors enrolled in the programs are seeing that burrows are taking place of actual sales, but the marketing efforts that Amazon offers authors in the program are proving to be effective. Authors are seeing that these promotions are increasing sales, as well as burrows. Authors are left to weigh what’s more important to them- the sales or the marketing. Authors who aren’t in the KDP program are left to fend for themselves on the marketing side of things. If you aren’t experienced in marketing, or just don’t have the time, you aren’t going to get as many sales on your own if you can’t put in the initial leg work.

5. Free book promotions sell series.

Offering one of your books for free can be a scary thing. But research has showed that it’s a very effective marketing tool. A Smashwords survey reported that a series (of three books or more) that has the first book free sold more copies than other series. It has also been found that 45-55% of readers who downloaded a free book have gone on to purchase other work by the author. Sometimes a little risk leads to a big reward.

6. E-mail marketing drives sales.

Both publishers and authors are investing more and more time into building their own e-mail lists. E-mail marketing is so effective because you know you are hitting a targeted group of consumers who care about what you have to say and what you have to offer- they were the ones that signed up for your newsletter in the first place.

7. Physical book sales are rising. 

It’s time to focus our attention back on print books, which is why many indie authors are now interested in finding traditional publishers. The rising print market is making it worth it for them, giving traditional publishers the advantage on this one. There really is nothing better than holding a book in your hand and sitting back for a relaxing afternoon.

8. The international market shouldn’t be ignored. 

The United States and Canada only make up 30% of readers consuming e-books. The United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and Italy are creeping closely behind.

9. Coloring and erotic romances for the win. 

Adult coloring books and erotica continue to flood the publishing market. Erotica romances have been hanging in there for a few years now and it doesn’t look like it’s going away for 2016 either. The coloring book trend has proved that maybe we all need to relax a little bit more. We will see more big things for the trend before it dies.

10. Being an indie author has become a choice.

Many indie authors aren’t self-publishing because they can’t get a traditional publishing deal, but rather because it makes more financial sense for them. Readers are starting to realize that and are taking more chances on indie authors. There are so many awesome books out there that aren’t getting the recognition they deserve because they are ‘indie.’ Fortunately for these authors, an important and inevitable shift is occurring. Being an indie author is something to proud of.

That’s a wrap on what’s ‘hot’ and what’s ‘not’ for 2016. Publishers have a lot to learn from the indie world, and vice versa. 2016 is going to be the start of some more major shifts in the publishing industry and I am excited to be a part of it.

Write on.

18 thoughts on “The 2016 Publishing Shift

  1. Amelia E. Browne January 27, 2016 / 12:37 am

    Reblogged this on A.E. Browne and commented:
    Some publishing predictions for 2016. It will be interesting to see how they pan out.

  2. D. Wallace Peach January 28, 2016 / 3:17 pm

    Excellent list and summary of the changes. I think with avenues for indie publishers to create print books (i.e. Createspace), the print book future for indie authors is going to expand. I’m intrigued by how quickly things are changing 🙂

  3. mhairisimpson January 28, 2016 / 3:30 pm

    I’ve heard a few complaints about Amazon taking down badly formatted books – I think it’s a great idea. Indies have so much to offer the industry – they’re doing themselves a disservice by putting up something that’s less than stellar.

  4. rebeccakwriter1 January 28, 2016 / 3:45 pm

    Thanks for these predictions for the upcoming year! I am going to reblog this on my modest blog.

  5. LionAroundWriting January 28, 2016 / 4:55 pm

    Great article with some surprising trends Really useful, although I don’t think I’m going to start writing erotic literature any time soon to cash in lol

  6. lovessiamese January 28, 2016 / 8:52 pm

    Reblogged this on TheKingsKidChronicles and commented:
    Thank you so much for keeping us informed about the ever-changing publishing industry. It helps to know how things work and what no longer is effective. Re-blogged from

  7. Phillip T Stephens January 28, 2016 / 10:26 pm

    Indie authors especially should be aware of the quality issues that can trip them up (and the fact that, as I learned by painful experience, it is next to impossible to update a book the author has fixed because Amazon doesn’t want you to lose your notes and bookmarks). Even if readers don’t complain to Amazon it can reflect in reviews.

    I once had a drop cap detach and float freely in the wrong place. Another author of anotherwise good book didn’t clearly separate section breaks, making it nearly impossible to follow the flow of her narrative in several key sections. I had to reread several times to figure out what was going on (and I did note that in my otherwise positive review).

    I bought a couple of Indie books for my wife Carol because I thought she would like them, and the first thing she said was “too bad these writers don’t bother to edit or proofread.” She liked the stories but didn’t finish either book and won’t buy from either author again. Both were writers I have workshopped with and corresponded with (but had not yet read their currently published books). And she is far less critical a reader than I.

    Your books don’t have to look like the big presses, but you should have professional books with professional covers.

  8. Tracy Campbell January 29, 2016 / 1:50 am

    So glad to see coloring books are trendy. Working very hard to get the coloring book I’m working on out in the world. 🙂

  9. Tracy Campbell January 29, 2016 / 1:54 am

    Thanks for the “like” on my comment, Sarah. 🙂

  10. Yecheilyah January 29, 2016 / 3:45 am

    Reblogged this on Pearls Before Swine and commented:
    2016 Book Publishing Updates. Writers, you may want to write this down!

  11. noelleg44 January 29, 2016 / 2:21 pm

    Thanks for the alert – good to know!

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