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Publishing a novel in 2022: 10 useful insights

Publishing a novel has many moving parts, not least the book trade and how it is impacted by multiple factors. Read 10 insights from publishing predictions.

Publishers and book industry insiders often share useful insights about book sales, readers’ behavior and more. Publishing a novel in 2022 (or further along the writing process with this goal in mind)? Read 10 insights from forecasts for the year ahead:

Publishing a novel in 2022? Remember:

  1. Digital trade grows (print suffers setbacks)
  2. Print prices may rise
  3. BookTok boosts book sales
  4. The pandemic impacts the book trade
  5. Audiobooks offer opportunities
  6. Streaming platforms keep acquiring
  7. Collaboration gives mutual benefits
  8. Interactive books and other formats surge
  9. Indie authors and publishers boom
  10. Inclusivity matters

Let’s dive into these ideas:

1. Digital trade grows (print suffers setbacks)

Digital revolution, fourth industrial revolution – whatever you want to call the rise of NFTs and all things intangible, digital is here to stay.

Publishing industry insiders have predicted that in 2022 the eBook trade will grow. Print, meanwhile, suffers setbacks due paper shortages and other factors (such as rising delivery costs).

What does this mean for publishing your novel?

You may decide to go the indie/exclusively-digital route to avoid extra costs eating into your bottom line – more below on other digital formats.

This being said, analysts still predict higher print sales than in 2019 and 2020, but lower than 2021.

2. Print prices may rise

As discussed above, material shortages, rising shipping costs (due, in part, to the pandemic) and other factors could mean a rise in print book costs.

Kristen McClean, a book industry analyst (‘Print Sales Likely to Fall in 2022’, Jim Milliot), suggests this could lead to higher secondhand book sales and library borrowing.

What positives does this hold for your book?

You could offer a discount for libraries (if an indie author) you advertise prominently on your author page. Connect with your local librarians about acquisitions.

You could also donate copies to secondhand stores in exchange for prominent in-store display or other advertising.

Margaret Atwood quote choosing a publisher | Now Novel

3. BookTok boosts sales

TikTok, the short-video-based social platform, has proven extremely popular with younger readers.

The #BookTok subcommunity has even driven sales of authors’ novels due to members featuring them.

Big book merchants such as Barnes & Noble have been quick to capitalize on this, adding BookTok recommendation pages.

Jim Zarroli at NPR shares what BookTok members love in their reads:

  • Emotional and passionate stories
  • Books that move you to tears

How can you make #BookTok work for the novel you’re planning to publish?

  • Join TikTok and follow #BookTok
  • Listen to the words younger readers use to describe their favorite reads – you may find blurb or promo inspiration
  • See the kind of content authors using the platform successfully create

The language members use could be useful for writing listing descriptions for your book that appeal to a younger demographic.

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4. The pandemic impacts the book trade

It’s no secret that the ongoing global pandemic has impacted almost ever industry (barring the entirely digital or remote).

Forecasts predict that as restrictions ease in parts of the world, there will be increased visitors to brick-and-mortar book stores.

Consider making your writing business plan quarterly (or even in smaller time increments) to account for unpredictability.

5. Audiobooks offer opportunities

Audiobooks have also seen enormous popularity growth in recent years.

Says Hannah Guy for Kirkus Reviews:

Audiobook sales are still going strong, and people are discovering that while you can’t always curl up with a good book, you can still enjoy it while you’re driving, making dinner, working, or just spending time with family.

Hannah Guy, ‘Our Predictions for Publishing in 2022’, December 9 2021.

Given the rise of streaming platforms such as Spotify, audio may just provide you a useful additional revenue stream.

6. Streaming platforms keep acquiring

Netflix and the many other movie and series streaming platforms have an interesting synergy with the book trade.

After the phenomenal success of adaptations such as George R. R. Martins’ A Song of Ice and Fire, or Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, making your book a series with cinematic appeal could be your smartest move.

As Guy says:

One of the best ways to help the popularity of a new show or film is to already have a dedicated audience, so the trend of book to TV or book to film should keep growing. Publishers are also keeping an eye out for books or series that would lend themselves nicely to those platforms.

Guy, ‘Our Predictions’.

Read our article on how to nail scene structure for a start.

Quote on publishing a novel and publishing trends - Hannah Guy

7. Collaboration gives mutual benefits

Authors have also seen the benefits of collaboration.

Connect with other authors in your niche. You could invite them to virtual conferences or fun writing webinars.

In doing this, you provide mutual followers the opportunity to discover each other’s work and follow future releases. A mutual benefit.

In another article for Kirkus, Hannah Guy describes the success four authors had in coming together to create a virtual book chat. This provides a way to connect with readers in place of live readings.

Our own recent first pages panel was a wonderful opportunity for us to connect with our members. Together, we gave (and learned from) writing feedback on each other’s first pages.

I have been surprised and delighted by my experience with NowNovel. The platform tools have provided a highly effective way to map out the structure of my novel while my experienced, inspiring coach Hedy has provided feedback and strategies that have reminded me that writing is fun and that my stories are worth telling. — Maggi

Read more reviews on:

TrustSpot

8. Interactive books and other formats surge

There are also interesting formats driving sales and publishing in 2022 and beyond.

According to a marketing trends report by Infiniti Research Limited:

The market is driven by the growing popularity of eBooks and the use of interactive books for early literacy.

Global Books Market 2022-2026, abstract here.

Interactive books are increasingly popular, both the digital and print variety. (Herve Tullet’s Press Here is billed as ‘The longest-running picture book on the New York Times bestseller list’ on Amazon.)

Manga is also identified as a key growing genre due to global interest, particularly among younger readers.

9. Indie authors and publishers boom

The details above paint a rosier picture for authors who focus on digital self-publishing platforms such as Amazon, Kobo and others for the time being, perhaps.

Reports such as this indicate that smaller publishers have also posted rocketing sales growth. It’s a good argument to, as Margaret Atwood puts it:

Be aware of smaller publishers, should the bigger ones not see the glory of your ways. They may want and need you. Go with the one who loves you, not the one with the biggest gold buttons.

Margaret Atwood, ‘Resources for Writers’, author’s personal website.

10. Inclusivity matters

Inclusivity matters (has always mattered, but not always to the right people – decision-makers, persons in power, or consumers or supporters who uphold or reshape their agendas).

A common theme of forecasts was how growing social justice awareness drove reading habits over the past two years.

The first review on Writer’s Digest’s 100th edition of its annual Writer’s Market publication is telling about the shifting publishing landscape:

Bought this for a writer friend of mine before he informed me that agents are no longer interested in representing white men. They only want ‘marginalized’ writers of LGBT or native Americans or black folks. I was stunned at this, but after two published works and moderate success, the man can no longer find an agent for his third book (and the best one) in his series. He was told twice that they were looking at other types of writers and no longer rep’d his kind.

This review oversimplifies a broadening of the table that was long overdue, yet it raises important discussions about representation.

If you’re publishing a novel in 2022, it may be worth asking, ‘Who are my readers? Who am I inviting to the table? Who will feel represented, seen, or excluded?’ Make sure everything from your pitch to your promo speaks to this, to your target audience.

With perseverance and work, you can carve out your own lane, in any lane (with room for everybody in it).

Hoping to publish a book in development? Find coaches and editors who’ll help you make real progress.

By Jordan

Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.

6 replies on “Publishing a novel in 2022: 10 useful insights”

Absolutely. Late last year, I decided to move from physical books to ebooks. Sadly, my current project isn’t geared for the format, so I had to reach back to an earlier piece I’d slipped into the bottom drawer. Print books ARE one day soon going price themselves out of the casual/recreational reader’s hands while the fragile nature of overseas printing coupled with uncertainties in the various supply-lines will leave good stories and new authors adrift. Probably a good time for a new epub to step up to the plate.

Hi Jake, thank you for sharing your thoughts and your own process around formats. It is unfortunate how expensive print books are (this is exacerbated here by government taxing them as luxury goods rather than VAT exempt necessities which they should perhaps be).

There are great initiatives such as Better World Books who sell ex-libris secondhand books and save books from ending up in landfills, at least. Although I find digital convenient, there’s nothing like the tactile pleasure of holding a book in your hands and cracking it open for the first time. Thanks for reading our blog.

#10

The table has not broadened. It’s the same size as it always has been. It used to be white. Now it’s not white.

Hi Jan, thank you for sharing your perspective. I disagree with that analysis as there are still many, many white writers publishing, being awarded by major literary and other writing prizes, leading MFA programs and so forth. A shift we are seeing more (and I would hope a welcome shift) is of people of all ethnicities’ stories being produced not only as tokens or exoticism but as important parts of ‘mainstream’ culture and representation.

Absolutely, Todd. The merits and marketability of the story are the most important. If an agent senses a hit I sincerely doubt author demographics will factor that much into their decision, unless they are very committed to creating opportunity for specific groups of people in which case the author can simply submit to other agents if they don’t meet the agent’s personal criteria.

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