Predictions for 2016 that You Should Know

At the end of every year, industry experts make predictions about what will happen in the coming year. Many of these predictions come true, some don’t. Since predictions are based on trends, there is usually a good chance these trends will continue and the predictions will come true, but not always. After all, past success is not a predictor of future success—or the stock market would have already made me rich.

future

For the past month, I have been reading numerous marketing and publishing industry trends for 2016. I have picked a few that I think are the most relevant to independently published authors and small publishers to share with you.

1. Mobile will dominate in 2016.
Google recently announced that mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches. This means that more people are accessing the Internet from mobile devices than ever before. Having a mobile-optimized website is essential for 2016. If your website is not optimized for mobile devices, you will not show up in Google search results for mobile device users. The majority of email will also be read on mobile devices, so make sure your email marketing efforts support mobile (responsive email designs).

2. Audiobooks and Children’s Books will continue to lead book growth in 2016.
in 2015, the Children’s book market in the United States grew by 13%. Experts predict that this genre will continue to grow in 2016, as it has for the past 3 to 5 years. Audiobooks enjoyed phenomenal growth in 2015. The category grew as much as 31% in the first half of 2015 over the previous six months. Many believe that audiobooks will continue to have double-digit growth in 2016.

3. Print will remain strong, but Indies will dominate the ebook market.
Industry experts are reporting that the ebook and print markets appear to be diverging into parallel markets. In other words, traditional publishers dominate the print market, while indies dominate the ebook market. According to Author Earnings, 45% of ebooks sold on Amazon Kindle store are published by Indies. The prediction is that this will grow to be over 50% in 2016 as traditional publishers leverage agency pricing to keep the price of ebooks higher.

Studies show that people tend to purchase an ebook over a print book if the ebook price is $4 lower than the print book. Many traditional publishers are now pricing ebooks within $2 to $3 of the print book, driving more print sales. Since many Indies publish ebooks only, these authors are growing their dominance of the ebook market—largely with fiction books. As a result, some are predicting that ebook unit sales will grow in 2016, while the amount of dollar sales will actually decrease as people seek out cheap ebooks.

4. Video ads will start to reign in 2016.
With Facebook and Bing already offering advertisers video options, this venue will only grow in 2016 when Google begins to allow video-based advertisements in search results. Currently, Google only supports text-based ads and, occasionally, images. Video ads showing up in Google searches will only accelerate the current trend toward video-based ads. If you advertise on Facebook, Twitter, or elsewhere on the Internet, you will need to get on board with this trend to catch as many consumers as possible. Some experts are also saying that advertising on Instagram will become an essential component to a comprehensive marketing strategy.

I believe that we will also see physical bookstores continue to struggle in 2016. Along with this, the percentage of books purchased online will continue to grow. The most successful independently published authors and small publishers will be those that actively engage their target audience.

Do you have a marketing or publishing prediction for 2016 that was not mentioned here? Please share it with me.

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Is Multitasking Harming Your Productivity?

In high school, I rode the bus to and from school for a year. I loved the bus ride and the social time with other teenagers. On the bus, I often participated in multiple conversations at once. I attempted to listen and respond to two or three different subjects being discussed. Of course, I was fooling myself. In my effort to not miss out on anything, I was multitasking and actually missing quite a bit of each conversation.

Multitasking

Multitasking is when you try to accomplish two or more things at once that require mental concentration. Do you try to accomplish more by multitasking? Maybe you try to talk on the phone while you check your emails. Or, maybe you listen to a podcast while you catch up on your social media networking.

Did you know that multitasking actually leads to less productivity? According to Harvard Business Review, studies have found:

  • Multitasking leads to as much as a 40% drop in productivity.
  • Multitaskers make up to 50% more errors.
  • Multitasking causes a 10% drop in IQ.

In actuality, the human brain can’t handle more than one task at a time. Even though we think we are doing two tasks, our brain is really switching back and forth between the tasks. In his book, Brain Rules, Brian Medina points out that it takes more time to get things done when you try to multitask. People who are interrupted—and therefore have to switch their attention back and forth—take 50% longer to accomplish a task.

So, how can you improve your productivity? Stop multitasking. Instead, chunk your tasks.

Chunking involves working on one thing at a time for short periods of time. Set aside time each day to do specific tasks. So, instead of constantly checking your email or social media sites while attempting to write a chapter in your next book or work on advertising text, plan to check email and social media a few times a day—maybe at 9:00am, 1:00pm, and 5:00pm. Decide to spend a limited amount of time on these tasks, maybe 20 to 30 minutes, then switch to another task that requires your attention.

Don’t waste precious time on multitasking. As an independently published author or small publisher, you wear many hats and have numerous tasks that you must accomplish each day. Instead of trying to do two or three things at once, spend highly concentrated time on specific tasks and you will find that you become more productive.

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Goals: Guideposts on Your Journey

I frequently set goals for myself. To be honest, I don’t always keep them. In 2012, I set the goal of updating my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace from the second edition to a third edition that year. I didn’t meet the goal. Life got in the way. Knowing I failed the goal made me conscious that I needed to try harder the next year. I did and the third edition of my book was released in early 2014.

goals

Goals serve as guideposts and destinations on our journey. Without goals, we tend to wander and less gets accomplished. Studies show that successful people set goals and work to accomplish them.

As an author or publisher, you too should have goals. These goals can be refreshed regularly. I think setting goals for the coming year is an important exercise for any business person. You can set goals around writing books, producing books, the marketing of your books, and other endeavors related to your book. The goals you set will give you something to strive for. They will also keep you on track and produce a sense of accomplishment when they are met.

Many people follow the SMART principle when creating goals. Here are tips for creating SMART goals.

1. Your goals should be specific.
“I will write more” is not a specific goal. “I will write two books” or “I will write eight blog posts per month” is specific. Make your goals specific.

2. Your goals need to be measurable.
Making your goals measurable helps you know when you have met a goal. Stating “I will do more marketing in 2016” is not very measurable. However, a goal such as “I will engage in three marketing activities each day” or “I will sell 365 books (one per day on average) in 2016” is measurable. With these goals, you can measure if you have met the goal, exceeded the goal, or fallen short of the goal.

3. Make your goals attainable.
Attainable goals are realistic goals. To say you want your income to increase two-fold in the next year may not be attainable. However, to have a goal that you will sell 25% more books in 2016 than you did in 2015 is entirely attainable with the right effort.

4. Your goals must be relevant.
Don’t take on a goal that someone else wants you to accomplish. Your goal must be your own—something you want to attain. “I will read two books on marketing in 2016” won’t happen unless you are motivated to learn more about successfully promoting your book. You have to have the desire to complete the goal or you will run out of steam after some effort.

5. Give your goals a time-limit.
Give your goals realistic deadlines. “I will complete my book by June 2016” gives you a guide to keep you on track (especially if you tend to procrastinate).

As we enter into a new year, I encourage you to take out your goals and refresh them. Follow the SMART principle in creating your goals. Then, share with me one or two of your goals for your writing and publishing endeavor for 2016. I would love to hear what you want to accomplish.

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Does Your Book Have an Expiration Date?

Every few weeks, I thoroughly clean out my refrigerator. I pull out everything that is in the fridge, wipe down all the surfaces, and throw out any food that has expired.

Mission Possible

Fortunately, unlike the food in my refrigerator, most books on my bookshelf don’t have an expiration date. Therefore, I don’t need to throw them out after a few years. I can continue enjoying them for years.

The same is true for the books that you have written and published. Unless you have written a reference or resource book with material that goes out of date, you can continue to promote and sell your book for years.

Too many independently published authors only actively market a book for a year or two. Then, they stop. These authors miss out on the opportunity to continually bless people with their message.

Deborah McCarragher, a member of Christian Small Publishers Association, is a great example of an author who perennially markets her book. Deborah first published her book Mission Possible in 2007. The purpose of Mission Possible is to bring hope and encouragement to anyone in a spiritually mismatched marriage—a subject without an expiration date.

Deborah has tirelessly promoted her book for the past eight years. She produced a second expanded edition in 2011, and just recently, she updated the book again with a new cover.

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Books have the potential to keep selling for years. All they require is ongoing marketing—getting the word out to your target audience about what problem your book addresses. Just like Deborah, you can keep selling your books for years to come.

If you have a book that you have ceased marketing but still have the desire to sell, or maybe you just need a shot of encouragement to keep on moving forward with promoting a book that is a few years old, take heart. With a little effort, you can revive sales for your book.

Maybe all you need to do is simply get back to actively spreading the word about your book. But, if your book is an older book that is no longer selling, I encourage you to take the route that Deborah took. Refresh your book. Release an “updated” version of your book with a new cover and some added material (even a new introduction or epilogue is added material). Then plan a re-release of your book and actively promote the “updated” version.

Remember, most books don’t have an expiration date. As long as you are willing to put time and energy into marketing your book, it can sell for years to come.

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Christianity and Book Sales in America

The news keeps reporting that religion is on the decline in America. Surveys show that “nones”, those who hold no religious affiliation, are growing. In 2007, 16% of the population reported no religious affiliation. That number increased to 23% in 2014.

While “nones” may be on the rise in America, the news is not all bad for the religious landscape of our country. Pew Research recently completed a seven-year study of religion in America. The study was meant to provide a better method for measuring American faith over the self-reporting of denominations.

nonfiction-buyer-chart

The study, which interviewed 35,000 adults, found that among the three-quarters of US adults who do claim a religion, there is no discernable drop in measures of religious commitment. This is good news for authors and publishers providing books to people of faith.

In fact, the survey found that Evangelicals were slightly more likely to report the following activities over previous studies:

  • Weekly Scripture reading (63% in 2014 vs. 60% in 2007)
  • Participating in a weekly prayer or Bible study group (44% in 2014 vs. 41% in 2007)
  • Sharing their faith with others at least weekly (35% in 2014 vs. 34% in 2007)

Another interesting finding from this Pew survey was that more than half of Americans (55%) said they think about the meaning of life at least once a week. Evangelicals think about it even more (64%).

The news that those who hold to Christian beliefs take their faith seriously bodes well for Christian book publishing. Pew’s survey reveals that not only are Evangelicals still religiously committed, many others are thinking seriously about the meaning of life.

The purpose of publishing Christian books is to draw people closer to God, wherever they are on their spiritual journey. With Americans holding firmly to their Christian beliefs and seeking to know the purpose of life, Christian books continue to fill a need in people’s lives and sales figures show this to be true.

In fact, according to Nielsen, the sales growth of Christian books continues to outpace the sales growth of general market books. Sales of Religious books in the United States rose 10.5% in 2014. Over the past few years, sales of nonfiction Christian books have experienced the most growth at 11.3% between 2009 and 2014.

Interestingly, Nielsen also reported that almost half of Christian book-buying households earn less than $50,000, and about half of Christian book buyers are older than 45. So, if you are selling books to Christians, consider that half of all Christian book buyers are Generation X and Baby Boomers—which means they may not be as tied into social media as the younger generations.

The stability of religious commitment among Evangelicals and the resulting growth of the sales of Christian books in the United States is good news for all Christian authors and publishers. And, it is surely one more thing to be thankful for this week!

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