Four Publishing Trends for 2017

As the end of 2016 draws near many are glad that the election is over and political news has returned to a manageable level. Yet, we wonder what challenges lay ahead in the coming year.


For authors and publishers, I believe that the publishing landscape will continue to develop in the direction it has been growing over the past decade. Here are four publishing trends I see for 2017.

1. Self-publishing will continue to grow.

For the past decade, self-publishing has experienced tremendous growth. The number of self-published books will continue to grow in 2017 as more services arise to guide authors to publish their own books. Services that now offer free book layout software and cover designs (think Reedsy and Createspace) have made the playing field easily accessible for anyone desiring to publish a book. After all, surveys show that 80% of Americans feel they have a book inside them.

2. The number of books published will continue to exponentially outpace the growth rate of reading.

The reading rate in America has remained steady since 2012 (with a slight decrease from 2011 reading rates). Pew Research Center reports that about 73% of Americans read a book each year. However, the number of books published in the United States has grown exponentially since 2010. The number of self-published titles has grown from 133,036 published in 2010 to 727,125 published in 2015. That is a 446.5% increase in the number of self-published titles in five years.

3. With more books than readers, finding readers for your books will become increasingly more difficult.

Discoverability has been a buzz word in 2016. That’s because with the increase in books published, it is harder for any one book to get discovered by a reader. Enter a search in for “prayer” and you will receive 133,759 book results. That is a lot of books on prayer to choose from. Readers are inundated with books. Authors will be increasingly taxed to provide convincing evidence to readers that their book is worthy of a reader’s attention.

4. Audience development will be crucial for an author’s success.

No longer can authors count on readers discovering their book. Instead, authors will need to work on developing an audience for their books. Developing an audience is about gaining people’s trust. It’s about sharing your message with them in bite-size pieces in a way that enriches their lives so that they want to hear or read more of what you have to say.

At Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), we believe that audience development will be crucial for success in publishing in the coming years. To help our members become more skilled at developing an audience, CSPA will release an on-demand seminar on Audience Development at the start of 2017.

As you make your plans and set your goals for 2017, don’t let this news discourage you. If God is calling you to write and publish, then he has readers who need to hear your message. Your part is to be faithful to your calling, not just to write and publish, but to also let people know that your book exists so they can read it.

Related Posts:
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International Day of the Bible

Today is International Day of the Bible.

Sponsored by The National Bible Association, the International Day of the Bible invites people of all ages to pause for a few minutes to read or sing Scripture to express celebration of God’s Word.


Join me as I observe #BibleCelebration by sharing with you this scripture from 2 Peter 1:3-11. May you be blessed through the reading of it.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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Are You Outdated?

Have you heard the saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”?

Dressing for the job you want over the one you have is about impression. It is giving the appearance that you are capable of handling that job. Your clothing makes a statement about who you are and where you want to go.

Authors don’t necessarily need to dress for the job they want. Instead, they need to stay up-to-date on industry standards to give the impression that their writing is exemplary. Just as clothes are important in making an impression at a job, conforming to industry standards is necessary for authors’ success.


Staying up-to-date on industry standards is essential for independently published authors to be successful. For example:

  • If you are an aspiring author and you send a complete manuscript via snail mail to a publishing house that only accepts book proposals and chapter excerpts via email, you will not make a favorable impression with the editors. As a result, you will not secure a publishing contract.
  • If you are a published author and you send a press release that does not conform to industry standards, you will not make a favorable impression with the media. As a result, you will lose out on media coverage.
  • If you are an independently published author and you don’t provide the appropriate metadata for your online book listings, you will not make a favorable impression with readers. As a result, you will lose out on sales.

I am surprised at the number of authors nominating a book for the Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year Award who provide a 10-digit ISBN number instead of a 13-digit ISBN number with their nomination. The 13-digit ISBN number has been industry standard since January 1, 2007. All books published on or after January 1, 2007, must carry the 13-digit ISBN number on the book.

Yes, lists both the 10-digit ISBN and the 13-digit ISBN number. Amazon does this because they list books published prior to January 1, 2007, that carry the old 10-digit ISBN number. However, when someone asks for the ISBN number of a book published since January 1, 2007, the author should give the 13-digit ISBN number. This is industry standard.

Staying abreast of industry standards can be time-consuming, especially when an author wants to focus on writing, publishing, and promoting books. The good news is that you don’t have to take on that task alone—this is what author and publisher associations help with.

One of the benefits of belonging to a publishing association like Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is that the association provides you the information you need to stay abreast of industry standards so that you can be more successful.

If you want help on making sure that you are up-to-date in publishing and marketing your books, you can join Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) for the 2017 calendar year today! Simply fill out the application on our website at

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Copyright Not Needed!

If you think that the copyright on your book gives you sole rights to your book, you are mistaken.

The law provides for copyright exceptions. Exceptions allow for the use of a work without requesting permission from the copyright holder. There are a number of these copyright exceptions. These exceptions are frequently used by educators in teaching situations and by nonprofit organizations for people with print disabilities.



There are three major exceptions to the copyright law that are commonly used by educators: fair use, face-to-face instruction, and virtual instruction.

  • Fair Use allows people to quote a book in order to review it or to publicly display a reproduction of a work to critique it.
  • The Classroom Use Exemption gives instructors the right to use copyrighted material in a non-profit educational institution in face-to-face teaching activities.
  • The TEACH Act creates rights for using copyrighted material in on online instruction environment, similar to using materials in a face-to-face classroom setting.

In a nutshell, these copyright exceptions mean that educators in nonprofit institutions can use portions of your book for teaching purposes without your permission.

Nonprofit Organizations

In 1996, Congress passed the Chafee Amendment to the Copyright Act. This provision states “it is not an infringement of copyright for an authorized entity to reproduce or distribute copies of a previously published, nondramatic literary work if such copies are reproduced or distributed in specialized formats exclusively for the use by blind or other persons with disabilities.

One company that is using the Chafee Amendment to make books available to people with visual disabilities is Bookshare. This organization makes books available for free to any person struggling with a visual impairment, physical disability, or a severe learning disability.

Bookshare offers the world’s largest collection of accessible titles for the disabled—and this nonprofit organization does not need your permission to make your book available to qualifying individuals. However, the Chafee Amendment is only for residents of the United States. In order to make books available to people with disabilities residing outside the U.S., Bookshare must obtain permission from the copyright holder.

While Bookshare does not need your permission to utilize your book, the company partners with publishers and authors to expand their collection. If you want to donate a digital copy of your book to Bookshare, you can learn how to do that on their website at

Knowing and understanding the strengths and limitations of copyright are important. If you have not copyrighted your book, make sure you do so through the U.S. Copyright Office.

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Are You Afraid of Failure?

I recently heard that the President of Pixar has said, “Failure is the inevitable result of trying something new.”

Wow, that statement is so true.


Most of us fear failure. We don’t want to fail. Often, we don’t take risks. Instead, we stay in our cozy comfort zone to avoid failure.

Here is my question: How do you define failure?

  • Is failure falling short of your own goals for your project or book?
  • Is failure losing money on a project or book?
  • Is failure only doing part of a project (or one or two books in a longer series) before being forced to quit due to lack of consumer interest or finances?
  • Is failure poor reviews of your book?

Often, we are afraid of failure, but we don’t take the time to define what failing would look like. We have an idea of what success would look like, and so anything that falls short of our idea of success we end up calling failure.

But, is not reaching your own or society’s idea of success truly a failure? After all, isn’t simply writing a book or publishing a book a success of its own? If we learn something from our project or book, even if it doesn’t perform as well as we expect or desire, isn’t that also a form of success?

The book Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure by Tim Harford seems to imply that all success starts with failure. I don’t believe that this premise is true. However, I do believe that failure can lead to future successes if we let it.

Failure is not just “lack of success”. Failure is also a great teacher. When we don’t reach the success we want (what we call failing), we can take the lessons we learn and use them to change our course.

This, of course. is the point in Tim Harford’s book. We must adapt. Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure puts forth three essential steps for successful adapting:

  1. Try new things with the knowledge that some will fail.
  2. Make failure survivable since some of the attempts will surely fail.
  3. Make sure you know when you have failed.

Again, defining failure as well as success is important when you embark on a new project.
The old adage “Nothing ventured, Nothing gained” still holds true. If we sit in our comfort zones, we won’t fail, but we also won’t experience success.

If fear of failure is holding you back, maybe it’s time to define what failure would be. After all, following what we feel God is calling us to do is, in and of itself, a success.

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