Chip MacGregor

January 28, 2015

My Ten Publishing Predictions for 2015


Okay, so I’m a little late… I always try to make some predictions for the coming year, just to test out of my gift of prophecy. This year it took me a while longer to put together my list, but I’m trying to squeeze this into the month of January, so it still more or less counts as a “start of the year” column. As I gaze into my crystal ball, I see…

1. Barnes & Noble will make a comeback. Honest. I think they’ve shrunk, re-focused their stores on profitable items, and I think this year they’re going to see a lot of growth with B& So while they’ve had a few tough years, I believe authors and readers will renew their appreciation for the country’s largest book retailer, and they’ll once again be seen in a positive light. (Note that I said nothing about the Nook. My crystal ball is smoky whenever I ask about the Nook. No idea.)

2. Subscription services are going to explode. Oyster, Scribd, Entitle, and Kindle Unlimited have all been growing, as people begin to look at them as the Netflix-for-books. But the reason we’ll see even more growth this year? Google will get into this in a big way.

3. Authors are going to fight like mad over Kindle Unlimited. I have a couple authors whose earnings are down significantly due to KU. They’re not happy, and they aren’t alone. I think a number of successful self-published authors are going to pull back from the service. It’s great for helping a new author build a readership — not sure it’s as great for successful authors who watch a bunch of their book get read without earning much money.

4. The legacy publishers are going to drop their e-book prices. The research is pretty clear that low-cost e-books is the way to go, but the Big Five haven’t wanted to play along, since it devalues their product and reduces income. But I think the market will drive them to lower their prices (and that will mean another round of cost-cutting at the major houses). Look for overall lower prices from all the majors by late summer, and a bunch of very-low-priced value e-books as they all decide to mine their backlist.

5. There’s going to be an explosion of author coalitions. Most writers now see the value of being a hybrid author (some traditional titles, some small-press titles, some self-pubbed titles), so we’re going to see a LOT Of authors get involved in a coalition — authors banding together to share editors, cover designers, book consultants, and marketing experts.

6. But I think we’re also going to see a drop in the number of self-published authors. I could be wrong, but it feels like all those wannabes, posting bad novels with horrid covers, are slowing. Maybe they’ve figured out that Amazon isn’t Amway; that the mere fact of posting your crappy book on Amazon doesn’t make you an author, bring you instant recognition, and certainly doesn’t make you a pile of money. There are going to be plenty of success stories, and certainly more hybrid authors, but I think we may see a slowdown in the Tornado of Crap (as my friend Randy Ingermanson has referred to it).

7. There will be peace in our time. Or at least Amazon and the Big Five will have moved out of the era of open hostility.

8. But all the publishing houses will move to try and sell more books directly, rather than going through Amazon. Could they focus on selling through Facebook? Through Pinterest? Through Twitter? I could see this sort of thing, as well as a renewed push for publishers to market and sell through their authors’ websites.

9. Local bookstores are finally going to start working more closely with authors, particularly local authors. Your local indie store is eventually going to offer you front table space for a fee, even if you’re a self-published author. They’re going to negotiate highlighting you on their website, in their store, and through events — all for a fee. Why? Because indies need to figure out ways to generate more income.

10. And the big areas of publishing we can expect to see grow this year will include… You tell me. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to tell me we’ll see a bunch of books from hopeful presidential candidates (Hello Hillary! Hello Bush Family! Gosh… you’re back! Again… And we haven’t really missed you at all.) I have heard others say we will see a flood of Cuban literature, now that the barriers to Cuba are coming down. I’ve also heard people suggest that books on marijuana will be huge, with everyone in a rush to legalize. (The best part of that? Tokers will potentially purchase your book several times, since they’ll constantly forget they already own it!) My own prediction is that we’ll see renewed interest in travel books, since gas is now below two dollars a gallon in the US. And I think we could see several major names weigh in on racial reconciliation in our post-Ferguson world.

What do you see as the areas of growth in publishing for 2015? 

Share :


  • I agree with #2. I subscribe to KU, and a friend admonished me for it. She said KU doesn’t support the writer and, since I’m a writer, I’m not helping other writers make money by subscribing. I get her point, but as a consumer, I like the cost savings of KU. Supporting the cause vs. Being a thrifty consumer…my current moral dilemma.

  • Stacy Chambers says:

    The book subscription explosion surprises me. I have enough trouble keeping up on the books I get from the library!

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Yes, Stacy, but it’s a growing trend in publishing (and reading). The problem is that it cuts the earnings for writers, so I think we’re going to see some changes to it this year.

  • I really appreciate this post and like others I found myself laughing out loud at the joke in number 10.

    In all of these predictions for publishers, do you see the role of agents changing?

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Glad you got the joke, Saloma. I find too many on the conservative side don’t seem willing to admit we’re all pretty tired of Bushes, and those on the left don’t want to admit that nobody really seems to actually LIKE Hillary.

      As for agents, our role has completely changed, and I know there’s a movement from the indie side to push most literary agents to the side. But I don’t see us landing in the rubbish heap of history quite yet. In the midst of all this change, most career authors need someone with some experience to offer perspective, look at idea, be a reader, review contracts, assist with marketing plans, introduce to foreign publishers, and oversee sub rights. Of course, I always think the most important thing I do is talk to authors about their careers, and that’s something a writer can’t get just anywhere. My two cents.

  • cynthiahickey says:

    Great post! I’ve seen a lot of this happen already, especially in the last half of 2014. I’ve worked hard to hone my craft, learn to make book covers, and I work six days a week. Hard work is what will keep me from the bottom of the pile.
    I’m a hybrid and happy! I’m often approached with “how do you do it?”. When I tell the hopefuls of the hard work, and I do mean hard work, they often shrug and say, “I don’t think I can do that. I’ll just put my book up on Amazon and let God handle it.” Wrong answer, people.
    Those are the people that will drop out. Unfortunately, a lot of them will leave their book to float around in cyberspace, maybe luring in a new reader or two who will throw their Kindle against the wall.
    As far as crossing over … I’ve been slowly making my books less “Christian” and more “clean”, so has to hit readers in the ABA who are looking for that sort of thing. I’m a Christian. My faith is going to show through no matter what I write, but without labeling my books “Christian” or “Inspirational” I have the potential to reach a lot more people.

    As for KU … I only put the first book of a series on there which I charge .99 for. I still sell more copies off the KU, but when a subscriber does borrow the book, I get paid more than from the normal buyer. Make sense? I don’t think I’d ever put an entire series on KU. I’d lose a lot of money

  • carlagade says:

    No doubt (most) of these will pan out as always. Here’s one for you. Do you see CBA authors crossing over into ABA as well?

    • chipmacgregor says:

      To a certain extent, Carla… I’d like to see CBA fiction get back on track.

    • Robin Patchen says:

      Me, too. I’d love to hear your views on how CBA fiction has gotten off-track, and how it can be fixed.

  • Robin Patchen says:

    I hope you’re right about B&N surviving and growing again, and let’s hope you’re right about local bookstores working with indie authors. I hate to see authors’ royalties drop more and the big 5 making less money as e-book prices drop. Interesting thought about publishers selling directly to consumers. All good stuff, as always.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Appreciate that, Robin. And yes, HarperCollins just came out with a big new plan for selling their own books on their site. For years publishers wouldn’t do this because they didn’t want to compete with bookstores. Now they realize they need to reach consumers directly.

  • Debra L. Butterfield says:

    Very interesting, Chip, and I love your sense of humor. As an editor at a small publishing house, I found some nuggets of hope and ideas in here that I shared with my boss. The comments are interesting too.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Thanks, Debra. Always nice to hear from small publishing houses. Here’s to success for you and your team in 2015!

  • Aimee L. Salter says:

    I’m curious what model of KU your authors are on, that they aren’t receiving their full royalties? Is there a slice of KU that doesn’t? Or are you referring to the requirement for the reader to read 11%?

    • Rachel Leigh Smith says:

      There’s only one official KU model. All but the big big names are paid from this pot. The last figure we know for certain authors were being paid per borrow was October, and it was $1.33. Anything published via KDP priced over $1.99 LOSES money in KU.

      JA Konrath has pulled out of KU and Select, and Hugh Howey is not a fan of it either. For these two to be sour on it, something is very rotten in Amazon. Hugh was offered a different rate for the KU pot, as were a couple of other indies. They’ve all either turned it down or pulled out. One bestselling indie romance writer saw her monthly income decrease by 75%. She pulled all her stuff out and is still trying to get back to her pre-KU baseline. It’s H.M. Ward if you want to Google and read her story.

      From an author perspective it’s a nightmare, and one of the worst things Amazon has ever done. They were banking on the indies keeping it going, but they’re now losing Select participants by the hundreds.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      That’s very well put, Rachel. Aimee, the issue is that on Kindle Unlimited, the reader can download a bunch of books for one fee, so there isn’t a standard royalty to be paid on each book. No matter how you do the math, that means less money for authors. It’s great for authors who want to build platform and don’t care about money. But when an established author participates, all those fans of his or her work can download a bunch of books, and the author is paid far less. Not a good model for career authors.

  • Susan Donetti says:

    (The best part of that? Tokers will potentially purchase your book several times, since they’ll constantly forget they already own it!)

    I just fell out of bed laughing. Great predictions. Great sense of humor. As always. Thanks for both.

  • Rachel Leigh Smith says:

    In my little corner of the indie world, I’m already seeing #6 happen, to which I say it’s about damn time! Once the Tornado of Crap starts to clear out it’ll be better for everyone.

    I would love to see indies take editing and cover art more seriously. This is going to be crucial if they hope to compete with the Big Five lowering their ebook prices. Covers are also starting to play a bigger part in the ebook sales newsletters and I know someone who says she can’t figure out why she was rejected for one last week. I’m 99% positive it’s because of her terrible cover.

    I totally support #8! Anything to help chip away at Amazon’s dominance. I own a Nook because I refuse to contribute to the Amazon ecosystem. The traditional authors I buy are Macmillian and Penguin imprints and I would absolutely buy straight from the publisher if it was an option. Especially if the author gets a slightly better royalty from it.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Thanks, Rachel. I own both a Nook and a Kindle. I’ll admit I prefer the speed, the ordering, and the outside use of my Kindle. But I love my Nook, and very much want to see it stay in business. Appreciate your comments.

    • Mirta Ana Schultz says:

      I would only buy direct from the publisher if they offer a killer price, no DRM, and mobi file so I can immediately load it to one of my four Kindles. 🙂

  • Guest says:

    I foresee more Amish zombie fiction, maybe branching out into post-apocalyptic.

    • Lisa McKay says:

      And don’t forget “dystopian Amish Vampire” fiction. That’s a huge market just waiting to happen.

    • Aimee L. Salter says:

      No, the dystopian market’s saturated. I hear Memoir Amish Vampire books are the new black.

    • Guest says:

      Maybe just Utopian Amish vampire, then. Into the idyllic world of the Amish, comes a force so deadly, it’s undead.
      Yup, that’s fixin’ to break wide open.

    • I have to say, as a former Amish person, I find this thread highly offensive. There is so much wrong with this, I don’t even know where to begin. How in the world can authors justify exploiting a whole culture for their own gain — because it might be the next “hot” thing on the market? Where are people’s morals? What other culture could you exploit without consequences? Can you imagine what would happen if you were to write Jewish vampire stories or Mormon vampire stories? (Now PLEASE don’t go getting any ideas!)

      What goodness does exist among the Amish is getting exploited, distorted, mocked, and slandered with the so-called Amish reality shows and these trashy books.

      I don’t understand. If a person is creative and has good writing skills, why in the world wouldn’t that person use that towards the good by fostering understanding, rather than waste it on writing something so offensive?

      If the answer to these questions is that authors write these books because they can, then you’re right, the Amish won’t sue you. They believe they need to endure quietly whatever people do and say against them. But they also believe that we all atone for our sins… what we sow, we reap. And I’m just Amish enough to believe this. I’m also “English” enough to speak out when I see injustice.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Wait a second, Saloma… People have written novels about Irish immigrants, Scots in kilts, German immigrants on the prairie, Spanish pirates, French resistance fighters, Chinese coolies, Russian spies, and Jewish soldiers. They’ve explored Mennonites, charismatics, Huguenot Catholics, Czech protestants, and black baptists (to name just a handful). While I understand an Amish person saying, “They’re exploiting my culture,” I don’t find that immoral. My own people, the Scots, have been depicted as silly,kilt-wearing characters in a recent Disney movie. (And if somebody is planning a “MacVampire in Kilts” I won’t take offense.) There are plenty of novels that depict the Amish as good, hardworking people. There are plenty of novels that highlight their simple lifestyle, and celebrate their choices (just as there are some that mock it). Writing books about other cultures is part of fiction. Celebrating or mocking it is also part of fiction. I think you’re taking offense too quickly.

  • PeterLeavell says:

    I see number 8 as huge. Publishers will sell directly. H. C. for example, offered a few books at discounts if you got them through their eReader, and being a history geek, stocked up on the history of the Ninja and other cool books. Kindle, the price was almost $20. $2.99 with their reader. Now I get my books directly from them, read it on their reader, and the discount is equally impressive.

    • chipmacgregor says:

      Thanks, Peter. I agree — this is the wave of the future. Appreciate you sharing your story.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.