PUBLISHING MARKET UPDATE; Vol. 3, Issue 8

For those of us who majored in Economics, the dreaded word “recession” always seemed straightforward. You’re either in one, or you’re not. While the economy has become rather nuanced in the first few years of the ‘20s, the downward pressures are clearly being felt. Except in some very rare situations, books are the definition of a discretionary purchase. So, a downturn—whether or not you want to call it a recession—is definitely going to rear its ugly head here in the Update.


The folks at Variety conducted a survey in early July and found that 55% of U.S. adults expected to reduce their spending on entertainment in a recession (a category that includes books). Only 10% said that none of their spending habits would change in the event of a recession, to which their credit card companies shouted “hooray.”


Amazon Down!


Regardless of what the politicians might be telling us, the fact is that Amazon saw a drop in revenues from its...

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Judge Your Book By Its Cover

New York Times Bestselling author Adam Grant recently said, “Instead of telling kids they shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, should we teach them to judge negative and positive examples differently? Don’t doom a book by a bad cover—but give a book with a great cover a chance.” Adam makes a good point, as he often does.


The thing about covers is: No one intentionally makes a bad cover. No one wants to “doom” their book, but so many often do. In today’s email, let’s find a way to follow Adam’s advice by giving your book a better chance with a great cover.


Here are three tips (plus one bonus tip) for creating a great book cover:

  1. Know Your Genre. If you’re writing a detective novel or a thriller, you know the elements that tell your reader what type of book this is. Once upon a time, Amish fiction was a hot genre in publishing. That means the cover had to feature a bonnet. Whether it was on the head or in the...
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Does the Size of Your Book Matter?

Does the size of your book (page count) matter?


Yes…and no.


Historically, publishers have determined the price of the book primarily based on the page count. Many of the hard costs incurred in publishing a book – raw materials, shipping, printing, binding, etc. – were directly proportional to the size of the book. Basically, the bigger the book, the more it costs to produce. And relatedly, the bigger the book (i.e., the higher the page count), the more value consumers will perceive.


A basic example of this is: a publisher believes that a consumer will pay $25.99 for a hardcover book that is over 220 pages. The size of the book plays a factor in the consumer's end decision. If the book was 90 pages, there would be a huge hesitation to charge $25.99. That’s what the publishers believe.


When a traditional publisher contracts with you to write a book, there will be a stipulation in the contract on the word count, not the page count. Most nonfiction trade...

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Publishing Industry Market Update; Vol. 3, Issue 7

 

Audiobooks Stay White-Hot 


The Audio Publishers Association reported double-digit revenue growth for an astonishing 10th consecutive year.  2021 audiobook sales saw an increase of 25% over 2020 – a year that was itself up 12% over the prior year.  The genre leading the way: romance, with a 75% increase in revenues for 2021.  No editorialization on such a figure will be provided by Market Update at this time. 


The number of audio titles produced in 2021 was also up—6% over the title count in 2020—for a total of 74,000 titles released in audio.  


More stats (because that’s what we do here): 

  • 41% of audiobook listeners subscribe to at least one membership service (up from 38% in 2020).
  • 61% of parents say their children (17 and younger) listen to audiobooks, up from 49% a year ago.


Not sure how to feel about that last figure, as it could indicate a decrease in literacy.   Perhaps it’s time to...

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Why is My Book Getting Rejected?

Every writer, on some level, struggles with rejection. Often you're left with no rhyme or reason as to why your book is being rejected by publishers and agents. It’s crickets. The worst is when you start receiving contradictory rejections. One person likes this part of the book idea; another doesn’t.


Have you ever wondered why your book is getting rejected?


It’s a little bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, right? This porridge is too cold, this one too hot.... Every writer wants to find that sweet spot, the one that is just right.


Can we offer some advice as to why you’re getting rejected?


If you’ve done your homework - honed your query letter and polished your book proposal - then maybe the problem isn’t the things you’ve done, it’s this one small thing you didn’t do.


As literary agents, we look for the smooth handle for your book idea. It’s the secret sauce that elevates your book idea to the next level: Create a...

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Don't Make This Mistake

There’s this funny thing writers do and it’s a big mistake.

During a recent conversation with a potential author client, he said he had a book idea that he was really excited about, but he was saving it for his second book because he believed there was a different book he had to write first. What?!

This is a huge mistake. 

Don’t delay your big idea. 

If you’ve got a great book idea that you are excited about, write that book! There are no rules that say which order books should be written in; unless it's a series, obviously. This might seem straightforward, but the writer's brain is constantly creating hurdles and rules. You should always question the rules. It helps to say them out loud or ask yourself, "Would I share this rule as advice with a fellow writer?"

Here’s what we like to tell our clients: Go where the wind is at your back. Whether that’s a book idea or a chapter in your book proposal. Use...

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PUBLISHING MARKET UPDATE; Vol. 3, Issue 6

We are definitely seeing a slowing in several sectors of the publishing industry. The weekly numbers for May 2022 are reported later in the Update.


Wall Street Watch


The numbers for the first quarter of 2022 are coming in from Wall Street.  The results are mixed.  


We have no doubt seen a slowdown from the red-hot pandemic-fueled periods of 2020 and 2021.  But, while sales numbers for 2022 are fairly decent overall, some in the industry are clearly feeling the pinch on the profit line thanks to a steady dose of higher costs, supply chain delays, and inflation.  


For instance, HarperCollins reported a 5% increase in sales in the first 3 months of this year but settled with a 16% decrease in earnings compared to the same period last year. Most of the revenue increase can be attributed to the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt acquisition, but that wasn’t nearly enough to save the bottom line.


Hachette parent Lagardere was similarly helped by acquiring...

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The Unofficial Start to Summer Goals

Whether you are ready for it or not, summer is here! That means sunshine, ice cream, and vacation. It also means there’s a new season ahead of you. What are you going to do with this time?


For some authors, summer is a bonus season. With kiddos home from school, and vacation vibes all around, anything they can get done during this time is a bonus. That’s why goals beat intentionality when it comes to taking advantage of this or any season of life. 


There is a belief out there that if you want something badly enough, you will make it happen. You will overcome the obstacles in your way and triumph. Passion makes for great Nike ads and the best kinds of movies. We love a character that digs deep and wants it badly enough. “Alexa, play Eye of the Tiger.” But where does that leave the rest of us when our gas tank is empty? 


Passion can be a lousy friend if you’re waiting on it to help you achieve your writing goals. 


 ...

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Why Your Word Count Matters

Your word count matters.

Should you be concerned with your book’s word count? Absolutely. Knowing and understanding why word count matters is an important indicator for your project. Let’s make sense of these numbers.

One of the scariest requests a writer can get is to add words to a manuscript she thinks is complete. Suddenly, what you thought was done or close to it, needs an extra chapter or (and this happens) an extra 5,000 or 10,000 words. That’s a lot of words to add to something you thought was done. But why does word count matter? Wouldn’t coming in with a low word count just mean the book will be shorter?

It’s not quite that simple.

There are two reasons why word count is important.

The first reason is word count helps a reader determine if your book is a fit for him. Every reader has an expectation for how long a book will be based on the genre they are wanting to read. For example, if you write a novel and it is long, like Russian...

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PUBLISHING MARKET UPDATE, VOL. 3, ISSUE 5

Wanna make it big on TikTok?!  Yes, if you’re an author you do—particularly a fiction author.

What is #BookTok?! 

#BookTok is a linkable “hashtag” inside of the TikTok app, and somehow it is driving book sales in a big way.  TikTok is probably not the social media platform that you would assume would be frequented by voracious readers. But apparently, they are on there. Reader-fans are going on TikTok, sharing about their new favorite book(s), and tagging them with “#BookTok.”  And the click-throughs go wild.

The smart people at NPD BookScan did some digging into this latest book marketing phenomenon. They tracked a group of 90 fiction authors who were featured on #BookTok.  Comparing those authors’ sales in 2020 (before #BookTok started) to 2021, they found that those #BookTok authors saw sales growth of 73% for the titles being tracked.  Those authors alone saw sales go from 9 million copies to 20...

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