The Changing Face of The Publishing Industry During Covid-19
Special to BEQ Pride by Jenn T. Grace, Publish Your Purpose Press
Logically speaking, it is one of the best times to be writing a book. You are stuck at home, released from a calendar full of obligations that may have pulled you away from writing, and you may have little else to do. However, in practice, it may be one of the most challenging times for authors to make a commitment to writing a book.
Everything from the newspaper headlines to the spam emails we still get from Target are reminding us that we are living in “unprecedented” times and that the world we once knew is rapidly transforming. Writing itself can be immensely difficult during the swirling anxieties of the time, but another block that can make book writing hard during the pandemic is fears about what publishing and the publishing industry will look like in the aftermath of the virus.
The publishing business is one of millions of industries that have been greatly affected by the tidal wave of changes and restrictions brought forth by the coronavirus. Even though the future is still very much uncertain and daunting due to the ever-changing conditions of the pandemic, there have been some tangible developments and trends in the world of publishing, during these past few months, that may serve as blueprints for what the industry will look like in a COVID and post-COVID world. Below are some of the trends that are shaping the new “normal” for the industry. These trends can help give you an idea of what publishing your book might look like during this pandemic, while also possibly providing you with some new ideas on how to switch up your marketing strategies to best address the current circumstances.
A Move Towards Audio and Ebooks: A more accessible alternative
One of the biggest trends in the publishing world has been a move towards audiobooks and ebooks. Sadly, browsing the shelves of your favorite book store and picking up something that catches your eye is now a rarity, closing off one of the primary routes of purchasing physical books. Also, Amazon has prioritized the shipping and delivery of what they have established as essential items during this pandemic; books are not included on that list. It can now take up to four to six weeks for a singular book to arrive on a consumer’s doorstep, which also has put a big strain on the practice of buying physical books.
Ebooks and audiobooks are becoming more and more popular because they are only a couple of clicks away and they are often cheaper than a paperback or hardcover book. Audiobooks also allow for mobility during use, which makes them more attractive for a lot of people, since not everyone has the time to sit down and read during the day. The good news is the production of audiobooks and ebooks has come down in price over the last few years, which means this option is becoming more accessible for authors to use. Also, some of the companies that produce audiobooks and ebooks are having flash sales and are giving out large discounts to authors because of the pandemic. Even though you may not have imagined an audiobook when thinking about publishing your book, it is an important development to consider when deciding your publishing path.
Book Launches and Promotions are Now Online
With everybody relying on technology to connect with one another and just generally entertain themselves while staying at home, online ads are a valuable consideration for promoting your book. There are lots of options for different ways you can format the ads, different platforms you can share them on, and different audiences you can cater them towards. A quick Google search about the pros and cons of online advertising can help you research and decide whether online ads are the right move for you and your book.
If you don’t have a big mailing list or haven’t fully developed your social media platforms, another way to reach potential audiences is through writing for other publications. If there’s one thing that people are universally doing during this pandemic it’s reading news articles and blog posts, trying to get any kind of clarity about what is happening in the world. Even if you aren’t writing content that directly relates to your book, you can still get your name out there through publishing weekly or monthly op-eds to an online source. In addition, when you write for a publication you can include a link to your book or business website beneath the post, which can bring in a whole new market of readers. If your book content is relevant to current events, that’s great too! You can post sections of your book to give readers a taste of your writing and then encourage them to read the rest through buying the book.
A lot of times authors rely on conferences and speaking events as ways to promote their book and personally reach their audience, but with the current CDC guidelines surrounding the number of people that can safely gather, many of these events have been pushed back indefinitely or canceled. If you were planning on using these events as part of your publishing journey, then the solution again lies in the online realm. Adjusting to the times, people have begun to create virtual conferences that will serve a similar purpose to the originals. Even though there will probably be less fluidity in meeting and getting to know participants, it is still a great opportunity for book promotion.
Also, colleges and universities will be looking for online speakers to aid in revitalizing the learning environment due to the fact that many campuses will either remain closed or transition to a mostly virtual format this fall. With so much free time created in the daily lives of students, the policy is probably the more speakers the better. If your specific audience is in this demographic, consider looking into these opportunities as an addition to your marketing strategies.
What You Can Do to Save Independent Bookstores
Even though we previously mentioned that one of the changes in the publishing industry will be a shift toward e-books and audiobooks, we at PYP really encourage you to have your readers support their locally owned bookstores during this time. The majority of people nowadays have to join virtual Zoom calls in the mornings and spend their afternoons glued to their computers for work, so not everyone will want to read their books on an electronic device as well. Also, book lovers know that there’s a certain magic to holding a physical book and turning the pages that can’t be replaced, so some of your readers will opt to purchase paperbacks or hard copies. The great thing about local bookstores is that, unlike Amazon, they will prioritize getting your book out to your readers in a timely manner.
We at PYP also emphasize the importance of purchasing from bookstores owned by members of underrepresented communities. Many of the big players in the publishing industry have -intentionally or unintentionally- bought into a system that silences and suppresses diverse voices. Underrepresented bookstore owners are the people putting powerful diverse authors on their shelves and making sure that their stories are shared. Through supporting these businesses you are helping these stores keep true representation in the publishing world.
Similar to the aforementioned virtual conferences, local bookstores are also hosting virtual book readings and author visits, which can be a great way for you to get exposure and have people hear about your book. These virtual book readings are going to be one of the new ways to connect with people and expand your reader network.
We are in a time of monumental change, growth, and loss, but we are not completely powerless. If physical books have always held a special place in your heart and you value the contribution of your local bookstore to the community, then you and your readers can help make sure they do not fall prey to the changing face of the publishing industry.
To learn more about Publish Your Purpose Press, our authors, and our services, please visit: www.publishyourpurposepress.com/pyp-authors