Wednesday 26 April 2017

Three Things In Publishing That Have Changed in Two Years - Kara Isaac

In January 2015, I signed my first traditional publishing contract. I was recently thinking back on the things that have changed between then and now and thought I'd share a couple of thoughts :)

The rise (and rise) of indie publishing 

Two years ago indie publishing was gaining acceptance as a legitimate business decision by talented authors, as opposed to the "Plan B" of writers that weren't good enough to attain a traditional publishing contract. However, the hybrid author scene (authors publishing both traditionally and independently) was limited.

Two years later, the hybrid author scene is huge. Of all the traditionally published authors that I know almost all of them are publishing independently. Some reissuing backlist titles whose rights have reverted back to them, some writing novellas to complement series they are having traditionally published and some releasing full-length novels themselves between traditionally published novels.

Having lost almost all of the stigma previously associated with indie publishing, there are many things about it that are attractive to authors. These include the ability to control everything from cover design to price, a much shorter lead in time between finishing a book and getting it in the hands of readers and the ability to try new things in their writing.

Some previously traditionally published authors have found indie publishing so attractive that they've made the transition across. Others have been forced to take the jump because of...

The continuing shrinking lists of Christian publishers

In 2015, it was no secret that Christian fiction publishers were facing challenges. Changing reader demographics, closing brick and mortar bookstores, the proliferation of free and 99c indie books conditioning consumers to baulk at what were realistic sustainable prices for a traditional publisher. But there was still a reasonable number of medium-large houses doing Christian fiction.

In the last two years we've seen Abingdon and Harvest House discontinue their fiction lines. A number of other houses have further reduced their fiction titles leaving a number of authors without a publishing home. Two years ago it was hard for a debut author to get their foot in the door, today it is that much harder.

The influence of readers in place of marketing budgets
As bottom lines have continued to be squeezed one of the first things to get continually trimmed are marketing budgets. Where word of mouth has always been important to generate buzz about a book these days it it vital. Without a decent marketing budget and with thousands of books being released onto Amazon alone every week without any reader buzz a book can sink without a trace. Every author that I know is serious about cultivating relationships with their readers. Not just because it's fun (!) but also because, unless you're a bestseller with a huge existing audience, without readers who are committed to spreading the word about your books the chances of it getting found and read are slim.

As with all industries things are changing at a rapid pace. Authors, like other professions, are being forced to adapt or no longer be in the game. The one thing that hasn't, and will never, change is there will always be room for great stories. Now there are also ever expanding ways to get them into the hands of readers :)

What about you? What changes have you noticed in publishing over the last few years?

Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Her debut romantic comedy, Close To You, was recently named a RITA Award 2017 double finalist. When she's not chasing three adorable but spirited little people, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. She loves to connnect on her website, on Facebook at Kara Isaac - Author and Twitter @KaraIsaac  


  1. Kara, it's fascinating how indie just keeps on growing ... and growing. I'm curious to know if for the majority of indie authors whether the additional sales & therefore revenue (?) offset the costs involved.

    I think it's now accepted that even as a traditionally published author you need to adopt an indie mindset especially when it comes to marketing and promoting your novels.

  2. Hi Ian! I'm releasing my first indie novel in June so I'm intrigued to find that out as well! For all the pros that comes with being an indie (total control!) there is also the cons of watching your bank account shrink as you pay for all the things your publisher previously did! I'll let you know how it goes :)

  3. Thanks for this post Kara. As someone who is still trying to get my first novel published it's a bit daunting to realise that the traditional publishing industry seems to be shrinking. However, as you say, indie publishing is now a real and viable possibility. I need to get my head around it and perhaps one day have the guts to go for it.
    All the best with your indie novel! I've really enjoyed your books and I'll look forward to the next one :)

    1. Hi Linsey, thanks so much for dropping by! Yes, it certainly can be daunting but the good news is there is now more opportunities than ever to reach our potential readers :) All the best with your work!

  4. I've noticed a lot more small presses targeting the Christian market. Unfortunately, many of them are vanity presses (often vanity imprints of another press), and few are producing books that match those produced by the more professional self-published authors.

    I've also noticed the increased professionalism of self-published authors. Sure, there are still a lot of books with shoddy editing and third-rate covers, but there are also many more with excellent writing and editing, and wonderful covers.

    It's also been pleasing to read some excellent self-published novels that don't necessarily fit with what the big publishers are acquiring.

    I'm sorry to hear Harvest House are no longer publishing fiction. I hadn't seen that reported.


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