2013 Publishing Predictions: E-Books, E-Book Marketing … and More

While Smashwords’ Mark Coker’s 2013 book publishing predictions have been widely disseminated, there are a number of other predictions by leading authorities in the book publishing world that will have a profound effect on e-Book marketing and authors.

It is clear from many experts that e-Book unit sales will likely level off to varying degrees in 2013. This is due to a variety of reasons ranging from the growth of free e-Book availability, questionable quality, and other factors.

Digital Book World predicts that by the end of 2013, 65 percent of children in the U.S. will have access to an e-reading device. This could have a profound impact on authors and e-Book marketing that caters to younger demographics.

Audiobooks have also become more popular, and promotional patterns similar to e-Book marketing apply to audiobooks. Audiobooks are predicted to continue their growth in 2013 with a proliferation of audiobook production websites. This will bring down the cost for authors and depending on their niche, will potentially increase sell-through numbers. Many see strong growth in book marketing membership sites as new authors seek support and guidance from peers and pros.

Many predict that Smashwords will fight to retain relevance as the free e-Book model and the growing possibility of eReaders becoming disposable items makes profitability more difficult. Some predict greater scrutiny of Amazon for a number of alleged practices that could change the dynamic between the powerhouse and new authors.

Social media will continue to evolve as a major e-Book marketing tool. Many believe that new authors utilizing Twitter are talking more to each other than to fans or potential buyers. While some see a decline in its use, others see a shift in how it is used by new authors who will find ways to better integrate it into their e-Book marketing plans. In addition, many predict that authors will be converting from Facebook Personal Pages to Business “Fan” Pages in droves as they allow clear commerce objectives, unlimited numbers of fans and multiple business fan pages for one author. This may be a boon for authors that work in different genres or have other reasons that target audiences do not overlap.

Publisher mergers will increase, which will have a ripple effect throughout the book publishing world as many attempt to cut costs and gain economies of scale. Other reactions to the growth of self-publishing by the big publishers will be to offer services on an a la carte basis in order to begin recapturing market share and stay viable in the new landscape.

More authors will begin writing multiple works such as shorts and novellas as a way to build their brand and as a reaction to the free mentality growing among readers. Authors and publishers will see this as a way to provide value-added opportunities for readers while still maintaining a reasonable price point for the primary works. However, these same sources caution against passing off low-quality works that are far too short, which can permanently damage an author’s brand.

Despite its rapid rise in the publishing world, e-Books are far from a mature platform. This means that changes that will affect new and established authors in fundamental ways will happen almost daily. Consequently, e-Book marketing will continue to evolve. While experimentation should always be a part of the mix, the creation of a comprehensive book marketing plan that relies on fundamentals that work best with an eye towards future possibilities will keep authors moving toward profitability.