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The state of the publishing industry–2021

The state of the publishing industry in 2021

Curious to hear a comprehensive analysis of the state of the publishing industry, I attended a ZOOM webinar this week put on by Ingram entitled: How has Covid-19 impacted the Book Industry? There was a lot of optimism. Here are the key points I took away from the meeting:

  • Book sales are up right across the spectrum by 6%, and a whopping 29% for Q1 2021 over Q1 2020 in the US. Global book sales reflect similar upticks. Basically, we’ve seen the market grow five years-worth in a year, with books finishing in the top five in retail sales.
  • The categories that saw the greatest increases are, 1) Juvenile fiction, 2) Fiction, and 3) Juvenile nonfiction.
  • Also of note, buys are interested in new formats, as well as titles that dealt with the state of the world today.
  • They report that the way orders come in changed dramatically due to the lack of face-to-face events. However Ingram’s ability to fill customer orders through drop shipping met a need, and eased issues with shipping in general. (On a global level, think Brexit. UK to EU shipping was particularly interesting, but thanks to Ingram’s multiple manufacturing plants throughout Europe, they were able to sidestep this border-crossing problem.)
  •  Digital sales rose 17%, and with the biggest rise in academic sales which were up 120%. There was also heavy interest form Libraries.
  • Audiobooks have taken off, not just through ACX (Audible), but across platforms. Here again there was spike in the demand for Children’s titles.
  • Don’t write off the print marked, however, because it also grew in 2020.
  • Microtrends spotlighted included African American titles and civil discourse, for example. So, as a publisher, we do need to have our finger on the pulse, and consider bring books to market faster.
  • Social Media usage is on the rise, with the average user spending 2 ½ hours per day online, and buying things they discover there, and there was a 50% increase in book-related searches on Google and Amazon. And of people surveyed 40-60% of consumers report they expect to continue this new shopping behavior post-COVID
  • Even brick-and-mortar sales are starting to return to pre-pandemic levels.
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Valentine’s Day Special: The Autobiography of Francis N. Stein

This Valentine’s Day, we are offering The Autobiography of Francis N. Stein at a special price!

The Autobiography of Francis N. Stein: The Last Promethean

Francis N. Stein is the last descendant of Dr. Frankenstein’s wretch. I bet you didn’t know that the “monster” procreated, did you? This current generation Stein (the family shortened the name for obvious reasons) is a big hearted guy, and he really wants to do good, for all the right reasons. He’s just too trusting, and others take advantage of him, leaving him with trouble always nipping at his heels.

$12.95 for the regular edition

$15.95 for a signed copy

Set in contemporary Colorado, The Autobiography of Francis N. Stein: The Last Promethean is a hell of a story about the last imagined descendant of Dr. Frankenstein’s wretch—the spurned monster. It offers struggle and pathos, pain and absolution, deception and deliverance. Reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s Shadow Moon from American Gods, Francis Stein is a slow thinking giant of a man who attracts attention wherever he goes. Stein seems cursed with bad luck, and trouble waits for him around every turn in spite of his good intentions.

A. Rooney, author of The Autobiography of Francis N. Stein

A. Rooney is an associate professor who teaches writing at Jindal Global University in Sonipat, India when not in Denver, Colorado. He has published a collection of stories, The Colorado Motet (Ghost Road Press) and a novella, Fall of the Rock Dove (Main Street Rag). His stories and poems have appeared in journals, magazines and websites all over the world. 


Mix Blue Velvet with a dash of True Romance, add some gothic and some noir, flavor with firebear and Pho—and enter the engaging, shifting, transforming, surreal vision of Francis, offspring of one of literature’s most famous creations . . .

Randall Watson, author of No Evil is Wide and The Geometry of Wishes


Rooney’s title character is a superb creation and, like Mary Shelley’s original, a compelling chronicler of life as a monstrous outsider, as terminally unique, “dependent on none and related to none” (to borrow Shelley’s phrase). Yet, driven by the police and other would-be destroyers high into the Colorado Rockies, Francis Stein manages to forge tenuous friendships: fragile connections with others that offer the possibility of redemption, of a second chance, of learning what it means to be genuinely human. Sharply written, with flashes of dark comedy and lyric evocations of the 21st-century American West, 
The Autobiography of Francis N. Stein gives us a beautiful monster for our time and place—as Shelley did for hers.

—Thomas H. Schmid, author of Fools of Time

The Autobiography of Francis N. Stein: The Last Promethean is a story of struggle and pathos, pain and absolution, deception and deliverance.  . . . [It] is an inherently fascinating novel about the last descendant of Dr. Frankenstein’s wretched creature, the spurned monster who ultimately turned upon his creator. [This is] An inherently riveting read from cover to cover, . . . a compelling novel that reflects the author’s genuine flair for originality and narrative driven storytelling. Doing full justice to the literary legacy of Mary Shelley’s FrankensteinThe Autobiography of Francis N. Stein: The Last Promethean is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library collections and the personal reading lists of all dedicated Frankenstein fans.

—Micah Andrew, The Midwest Book Review

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Amazon Best Sellers Rank

a "loading" graphic showing 2020 on the left and 2021 on the right

How did our books do in 2020? We looked at Amazon’s best seller’s rank for each of our titles.

We’ve been reviewing how our books fared in 2020, a different sort of difficult year. We were pleasantly surprised when we reviewed the different books’ Amazon rankings. We have some standouts:

Sisypha Larvata Prodeat by Jan Cole, translated by Angela Liu, and edited by Lorrie Lo

Read more about Sisypha Larvata Prodeat

A Clearing Space in the Middle of Being by Jeff Hardin

Screen capture of the Amazon.com bestsellers ranking for Jeff Hardin's A Clearing Space in the Middle of Being
read more about A Clearing Space in the Middle of Being

Some Notes You Hold by Rita Sims Quillen

Amazon.com's best sellers rank for Rita Sims Quillen's Some Notes You Hold taken at the end of 2020
Read more about Some Notes You Hold

The Memoir of the Minotaur by Tom Shachtman

Amazon's best sellers rank for Tom Shachtmas's The Memoir of the Minotaur. Image captured end of 2020
Read more about The Memoir of the Minotaur

Congratulations to all our authors on this list. Keep up the good work!

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Support your favorite authors without spending a dime

Pale Yellow Lettering and illustrated books stand out on a red background. The text reads: Support Your Fave Authors, Give Them Nice Reviews, Swipe for instructions

Wanted to support your favorite authors somehow beyond just buying their books? We all have a favorite author or artist, someone whose work we love and would like to support. However, sometimes, times are tough and we just don’t have the spare cash to buy a book right away. Or our favorite author may not have a new book for us to buy in the first place.

What can we do to support them so that they can still afford to write the books we enjoy?

#1: Leave reviews.

This is true for any business today, and that is what writing is–a business. Products with higher star ratings and a larger number of reviews tend to sell more, and in this, the era of Amazon, more reviews makes them more likely to be seen. Amazon and Barnes & Noble (the two biggest marketplaces for books in the United States) both require a minimum of at least 30 reviews before they will start to feature a product in a customer’s “recommended” section on their websites.

A lot of people feel overwhelmed at the idea of leaving reviews–especially on books. Our theory is what we like to call PTECD (Post Traumatic English Class Disorder). Don’t worry, this is an E for Effort classroom. Something as simple as “I liked it” is immeasurably helpful. We don’t require full book reports to pass. 😉

#2: Request copies at your local bookstore or library

Despite common misconceptions, authors and (indie) publishers love libraries, because they make their books readily available in an otherwise financially blocked market. By requesting a library stock a book from by your favorite author, you are helping that author and his or her publisher to earn an income while you gain access to the book at no cost to you (as long as you don’t accrue late fees–tsk, tsk!). You are also making the book available to other people who might enjoy it and who may also write a review for it (full circle).

I want to write a review, but I don’t know how!

Here are instructions for writing reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and our own Madville Publishing (the website you’re on right now).

It is important to note that there are many other places where you can leave reviews such as Goodreads (owned by Amazon) and StoryGraph. Our list is not exhaustive, but it will get you started. Every little review (the more stars the better) helps.

Amazon

After making sure you are logged in to Amazon (or Amazon Smile to also have a portion of any proceeds from your purchases go to a charity of your choice), look up the book you would like to review and select it. In the sample image, I have searched for What Magick May Not Alter by JC Reilly which already has two (wonderful) reviews. It does not matter whether you choose the paperback or kindle edition of a book, they both go to the same place.

Once you have selected the book, scroll down to the bottom of the page. In the sample image I have prepared here, you can see a lovely 5 star review from Linda Austin. There is a grey button labeled “Write a review.” On mobile, it is under the other reviews. On Desktop, it’s to the left of them.

Once you click on this button, you should be taken to a new page with several blanks to fill. 5 star ratings are obviously the most helpful rating for an author and publisher. You can add an image if you’d like. Then, of course, the written review itself. As I said before, this can be as simple or complex as you’re comfortable with. “I liked it” is good, “I couldn’t put it down” is better, and a full essay is simply spectacular. Either way, we are eternally grateful.

Barnes & Noble

Much like Amazon, the first step to leaving reviews on Barnes & Noble is to login or sign up for an account. Then, search for the book you want to review.

In my sample image, I’m searching for Stand In The Traffic: A Himalayan Adoption Story by Kate Sauders.

As with Amazon, it doesn’t matter whether you click on the Nook version or the paperback version in the search results. They both take you to the same page.

The review link isn’t obvious if you are the first reviewer for a book.

If there are no other reviews, there will be green text beneath 5 blank stars that reads “Click here to be the first to review this product.” If there are other reviews, there will be a blue button labeled “review.” Click on whichever one you see.

Just like Amazon, B&N wants a star rating, a title for the review, a photo if you feel like it, and a review itself.

“Great Read!” is still very much appreciated.

B&N also has a few optional boxes to tick. These help their search algorithm put the book in front of people who would actually be interested in reading it–boxes to tick like, “Would you recommend this book to a friend?” or adding tags that you feel describe the book (tearjerker, laugh out loud, feminist, inspirational), whether or not your review contains spoilers for the book, and what kind of reader you would describe yourself as (casual, literary, book club reader, etc.)

MadvillePublishing.com

All publishers appreciate reviews on their own websites, as well. We are no exception.

Say it with me, kids: Make sure you’re signed into the website first!

To sign in or sign up for an account on Madville, click either “Sign Up” or “Account Details” on the black menu bar at the top left of the screen. If you can’t see the black bar, it might be hidden behind the dismissible purple banner at the top of the page. Click “dismiss” and the black bar should be made visible.

Once you are logged in, the process begins to sound familiar. Navigate to the book you’d like to review. In my example image above, I’m using Mistakes by the Lake by Brian Petkash. A little less than halfway down the page, you should see three tabs: Description, Additional Information, and Reviews. Click on “Reviews”.

When the tab loads, you should see any existing reviews as well as stars for a star rating, a text box for your review, and a submit button. Fill these out, please and thank you!