Our Predictions for Publishing in 2022

BY HANNAH GUY • December 9, 2021

Our Predictions for Publishing in 2022

For most of us, it felt like someone grabbed the remote and hit the fast-forward button on 2021, and we are still in disbelief that the year is already winding down.

In this spirit of looking back, we present our utterly unscientific predictions for publishing in 2022.

The paper shortage is gonna be a real pain for some authors

With yet another paper shortage due to supply-chain issues, traditional paper publishing will face some challenges early in the new year. Everything is suddenly more difficult to find and even more expensive to buy. But while that might be bad news for those anticipating a new hardcover of the year’s biggest seller, there are some who might just benefit: authors who thrive in the digital publishing sphere.

“One of the big things that are important to think about for 2022 is digital trends,” says Super Brand Publishing founder Juliet Clark in 2022 Publishing Trends. “eBook sales are way up and this is really important going into 2022 because we are experiencing paper shortages.”

More books to film and TV

Streaming movies and TV shows are becoming more popular, and streaming services are all too happy to give us what we want: more content. 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.

More pandemic means more reading, more book sales, and more learning

The pandemic is still hanging in there despite our best efforts, and many people still prefer to stay home and settle in with a good book. Throw in the paper shortage (which is rumored to last at least into the early months of 2022), and you have the perfect formula for an increase in digital books. We can expect ebook sales to continue to dominate and create more opportunities for indie and self-published authors. With the force shifting to more stay-at-home models and a large swath of employees leaving certain sectors, people are looking for more opportunities to start their own businesses, so nonfiction and self-help authors may have an even bigger window of opportunity in 2022.

Audiobook sales will continue to grow

“Remember that when you’re putting your multi-level strategy together, it’s not a good idea to just put out one version of the book,” says Clark. “Have multiple books available.” 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. They’re especially valuable to sight-impaired folks as well as those who might not be able to hold a physical book or reading device. If you’re an indie author, you should absolutely be thinking beyond just paper and digital. Good storytelling is growing, and a professional good-quality audiobook is one of the best (and most profitable) ways to branch out.

Book prices could rise even more

A higher demand for books and a shortage of paper means that traditional books might become more expensive, so while the suggested retail price of books might not necessarily rise, we will likely see online bookselling giants nudging their prices up. “In order for us to get much profit out for our clients at all, the prices have gone up,” says Clark. “That’s across the board too. I’ve noticed the traditional prices have gone up. In fact, we have a cap on our digital of how high we go with them.” Once again, authors with digital books will have an advantage.

More books from politicians

It’s no secret that politics and politicians themselves are big news these days. With former President Barack Obama’s third book, A Promised Land, selling more than three million copies in the first month alone, it’s clear that people want more from politicians. Their rising visibility and popularity—no matter how contentious—is proving to be profitable for authors, publishers, and booksellers.

AI will not take over from authors (maybe)

There are always people who predict that artificial intelligence will replace authors (imagine the profit margins if you don’t have to pay your author), but while AI has continued to stride forward in leaps and bounds, we’re pretty sure that 2022 won’t be the year for that. After all, scientists, researchers, and engineers are still working on robots that look like terrifying sci-fi thriller characters. Books are the last thing on their minds.

Indie authors will benefit most from series and backlists

We’ve long been telling indie authors that one of the most effective ways to increase your income as an author is to write more books, and for indie authors, that’s going to be an integral part of 2022 sales. Happy readers will be diving into your backlist, looking for another series and more books to devour.

More collaborations across publishing channels

If there’s to be a keyword that describes 2022 in publishing, I’d wager it will be collaboration. As we discussed last week in How Four Bestselling Authors Turned Pandemic Panic into a Recipe for Successful Marketing, authors are starting to discover the power they can have when they work together—and that’s no less applicable to indie authors who are discovering that collaboration can result in greater reach. Publishers are shifting how they work with their authors, and everyone will do what they can to help libraries and brick-and-mortar bookstores.

Hannah Guy lives in Toronto and is a professional writer and copywriter who specializes in books, books, and more books. Follow her on Twitter at @hannorg.

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