Books/Writing/Publishing Trends 2020

The future of something?

Beginning a new year leads to thinking about what is happening on many different fronts.  For me, of course, I’m always looking at trends in books and publishing.  While I am curious this really doesn’t affect me all that much, but still feels like something I should pay attention too.  The following trends come from an article by Scott Mathews which appeared in The Independent Publishers Magazine.  The article below has been edited for length, click for the full article.

Some of this I agree with, some maybe not so much.  Still interesting.

Trend #1 Print Books are still top of the pile

This should grab your attention because surely the natural progression would be e-books taking over the throne? Not so. Well, not yet. People apparently still love to hold a real book in their hands. For this, and various other reasons, e-books have shown a decline.

Does this mean the age demographic is now 30+ for print and under that for digital? No. This is where it gets somewhat confusing. Millennials are just as likely to go for print, bucking that sector’s trend of digital-only.

Trend #2 E-books are dead, long live e-books!

Having said what needs to be said in Tip#1, it goes without saying that e-books are still a vital part of people’s lives. Industry insiders have dissected the above trend, and all are cognizant that in terms of time and legacy, e-books are still relatively young and playing catch-up to print.

It is inevitable that the digital book will have many more peaks and valleys than print, although both are grappling with new ideas and follow-throughs. E-book trends are more uncertain as the world in which they exist is more volatile and iridescent. It’s a kind of nebulous line that makes it not as easy to define, but just as urgent to detect and develop.

Trend #3 Diversity is the new dynamic

If authors, and subsequently publishers, do not grasp diversity with both hands, they will fall behind in sales. This is a clear-and-cut fact. Diversity in the form of multicultural voices and multigender voices are the norm, and the must-have. This reflects the diversity that is alive and expanding everywhere in America.

Trend#4 Bigger demand for services

Everyone wants a book or a well-written assignment, and everyone thinks they can write. However, they’ve quickly discovered that writing is in the gift and the blood and it’s not as easy as thought.

Would-be authors and students turn to services like ghost-writers and writing agencies in droves to get the work done properly. Two such services experiencing a surge in demand are and

Trend#5 A writer and Entrepreneur!

Marketing your work is an essential part of ensuring hype and sales. This goes for whether you’re self-publishing or going with a traditional publisher. You must start blogging about your work, especially as a self-publisher.

Amazon is not going to do it for you, and as part of your marketing effort it’s vital you use every social media method available to get the hype going. If you don’t do this, your work will languish in cyberspace!

Trend#6 Audiobooks are more popular

They still fall under print and e-books, but they are on the rise. Izzard Ink Publishing says that digital audio accounted for 25% of all HarperCollins digital revenue in the first quarter of 2018.

Simon and Schuster says that digital audio revenue shot up a staggering 43%, so something big is happening here. It obviously takes more investment to get this show on the road but offering a print-on-demand book as well as an audio version is a sure-fire winner.

Since Americans seem to be multitasking more in their lives, they will have less time to just read a book. Audiobooks come into their own when they fit in with all the other activities that they are pursuing.

Trend#7 It’s all about the brand

You’d better ensure that you’re fit enough to sell your book. With direct-to-reader becoming the predominant buzzword going into 2019, much of the onus of the marketing will fall to you.

And the marketing will not just be about the book – it will be about you (the author) too! So be prepared to have YouTube inserts, Instagram postings, Facebook and Google+ campaigns… the whole thing. People will follow you, then your book.

If you’re a timid author, you’d better enroll in some get-confidence-quick classes, because you’re going to need it.


The world of books is huge.  Millions and millions of books sold.  My share of that market is so small as to be somewhere close to zero.  Overall trends in the industry may have impact on publishers, but any one author is doing their thing because of who they are; not based on some trend.  Now there may be some authors who plot their path based on statistics of what sells or whatever the hottest trend is—but that is not me.

Mystery novels have been a staple of the written word ever since there was a written word—that’s not a trend; but a fact. 

As I said, my part of the whole is so small it can’t be measured, but one thing mentioned in the article was the increase in print books and a decline in e-books.  Those are industry wide issues, but I also saw a substantial jump in paperback book sales this last year.  My books are not available (except by order) in book stores (lots of reasons for that –which I will explore in a future blog)—so this is on-line sales of paperbacks.  Those sales in 2019 almost tripled over 2018.  A “real” book is not as convenient as an electronic one—but I was very pleased to see people like the feel of owning a tangible book.

Thanks for being a reader!

Published by


Ted Clifton, award winning author, is currently writing in three mystery series—Pacheco & Chino Mystery series, the Muckraker Mystery series and the Vincent Malone series. Clifton’s focus is on strong character development with unusual backdrops. His books take place in Southwest settings with some of his stories happening in the 1960s, 1980s and current times. The settings are places Clifton has lived and knows well, giving great authenticity to his narratives. Clifton has received the IBPA Benjamin Franklin award and the CIPA EVVY award--twice. Today Clifton and his wife reside in Denver, Colorado, with frequent visits to one of their favorite destinations, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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