I'm jumping back into publishing (or trying to publish my books) this year after being away from it for several years (kids, day jobs, caring for elderly parents - all the usual life disruptions) and am noticing that things have changed quite a bit since I last published a novel. What do I need to know about publishing a novel in 2023?
Out of Touch
Dear Out of Touch,
Obviously no one has a crystal ball, so please take anything I say here with a grain of salt as any predictions are based on things we've seen in the last few years, and as we all know, life throws curve balls more often than we might expect.
But here are a few things we are likely to see in 2023.
1. Non-fiction outselling fiction - with the world becoming increasingly fractured and baffling, and looking almost as dystopian as a sci-fi/fantasy novel, people are searching for ways to understand how we got here, how to navigate the place we are in, and what we need to do to make the world a better place or ourselves better as people.
2. Audiobooks grow in popularity - Audiobooks have seen a huge boost in popularity, especially amongst Millennials and Gen Xers. The ease of consuming a book audibly, plus increased production values have led to the audiobook becoming the preferred format for many readers. With celebrity narrators and authors narrating their own work and/or sharing podcasts about it, audiobooks should no longer be an afterthought, but an important part of your publishing strategy. I mean, who doesn't want to be able to read while cleaning the toilet or dusting the blinds?
3. AI is not going anywhere - While I think it will be some time before we see novels of any quality being written by AI, 2023 will see this new technology being used across a wide range of publishing and publishing adjacent functions from cover design to audiobook narration to publicity to creating summaries of books to be published online. In fact, I don't think we can even imagine how much the impact of AI will have on our industry yet.
4. Diversity remains important - While we've seen an explosion in the representation of previously under-represented groups in recent years, particularly in YA, there is still a long way to go. The representation of people from different cultures, races, genders, sexualities and abilities in fiction will remain important in 2023, as will supporting authors representing these diverse identities. Sensitivity readers will be an important part of the editing process to ensure representation of specific groups is accurate and non-offensive.
5. Platform is important - Platform has always been critical to those publishing non-fiction, but in 2023 even novelists will need to up their game when it comes to having an online presence and platform. Book related TikTok has blown up in 2022 and with it, a whole new generation of avid readers has been created. As the social media landscape evolves and changes, trying out new platforms and experimenting with new ways to reach readers has never been more important.
I'm sure we will see other big changes in the course of the year. It will be interesting to keep up with them and to see if things actually do swing the way we think they will.