10 Book Marketing and Publishing Industry Predictions for 2016

by Dan Smith, CEO Smith Publicity

Print sales were up in 2015, self-published authors continued their ongoing momentum, and quirky trends like adult coloring books had a surprising industry effect. So what does 2016 have in store?

Here are my ten book marketing and publishing industry predictions for the year ahead.

1. Although print sales experienced a resurgence in 2015—due in part to Amazon’s heightened prices on e-books—digital publishing will continue to experience success. This could be the year when the see-saw between print and digital becomes more steady.

2. Content book marketing will continue its upward trend. This is especially important for authors who write business books. At Smith Publicity, we’ve experienced a steady increase in successful placement of byline articles. Providing ready-made material for print and online outlets is an increasingly important component of any book publicity campaign for non-fiction, self-help, and business books.

3. Independently published and self-published authors will need to amp their online presence. Even with the ongoing debate over whether or not social media sparks book sales, the fact remains that it has become increasingly important to augment traditional publicity with social media activity.


Digital books will continue to experience success, content book marketing will trend upward, and social media presence will become more vital.


4. Romance will continue to bloom in 2016. At Smith, we represent a wide range of authors, but we’ve certainly seen an increase in romance in recent years. Fifty Shades of Grey sparked an enormous surge of romance and erotica novels, many of which are offered in digital-only formats. But as new motifs make way in this genre, we expect to see less billionaire bachelors and more historical romances. You can thank the popularity of the Outlander series.

5. Ghost-written memoirs will increase in popularity. Book packagers have solid footing in today’s industry, and that includes companies that offer to ghost-write compelling life stories. Just because you lived an astonishing life doesn’t mean you’re able to write about it. Companies have stepped in to fill that gap, and we expect the trend to continue.

6. Pay-per-placement publicity programs will decline in popularity. Anecdotally, in 2015 we encountered more and more authors who had opted for a pay-per-placement publicity campaign structure, and left the process disillusioned. Certainly, there are quality firms who conduct such campaigns, but we’ve repeatedly heard that the disparity between placement value and cost makes positive ROI more difficult to achieve. There is every reason to believe this will continue in 2016.


Romance will change, ghost-written memoirs will hit more shelves, and pay-per-placement publicity services will decline.


7. Low-cost publicity service options will likely continue to grow in popularity in 2016. Flat-fee, quick-start programs are attractive to authors with limited budgets. Comprehensive, full service campaigns will remain the most popular choice, but expect low-cost service offerings to expand.

8. Smaller book trade shows will grow in popularity in 2016. We’ve already seen this happening in 2015. Book Expo America, even with criticism of changes in its structure, will remain THE event, but smaller shows, such as PubWest, are becoming more popular for both authors and industry professionals, and this will continue.

9. The self-publishing landscape will continue to change. As witnessed by the recent sale of Author Solutions by Penguin Random House, the blending of traditional and self-publishing may have run its course.

10. Self-publishing will continue to become a more viable means of attracting traditional publisher opportunities. We saw this increase in 2015, and expect this to continue in 2016.


Dan Smith is CEO and founder of Smith Publicity.