A Challenging New Year: Downbeat Trends for Indie Publishing


Rosehips on tea rose bushes in Newfoundland (courtesy Stan Collins). Feels like we’re at the point in indie publishing where we are, like birds, eating rosehips to survive the winter.

And so, 2020 starts out intense right out of the gate!

But although our attention is drawn to a possible war brewing with Iran due to an impulsive act of political assassination by the hapless idiot acting as our president, and also to the terrifying Australian wildfires, life goes on in the indie publishing trenches.

I wanted to share Smashwords CEO Mark Coker’s frank and downbeat assessment of the state of indie publishing, 2020 Publishing Predictions, which he puts out on New Year’s Eve every year. The first few years I read them, starting in 2012, these long reads were quite gushing and optimistic. No longer! Since Mark is in a position where he can actually observe the flow of money coming in ebook-wise, I’ve always taken his prognostications seriously.

This jumped out at me: “To my eyes and ears, indies are experiencing increased pain, anxiety, desperation and depression.”

He even thinks that the audiobook market is too difficult to get traction in for indie writers now because of expense. Ironically, I’ve just released my second audiobook via royalty share and have been pleased with the response, but admittedly it will be a while before I can do another.

Mark Coker touches on the Romance Writers of America debacle as well and questions their ability to survive as an organization. They have just cancelled their 2020 RITA contest!

“Due to recent events in RWA, many in the romance community have lost faith in RWA’s ability to administer the 2020 RITA contest fairly, causing numerous judges and entrants to cancel their participation,” the organization said in a statement Monday. “The contest will not reflect the breadth and diversity of 2019 romance novels/novellas and thus will not be able to fulfill its purpose of recognizing excellence in the genre. For this reason, the Board has voted to cancel the contest for the current year. The plan is for next year’s contest to celebrate 2019 and 2020 romances.”

Tough times! But perhaps better times lie ahead.

About Gabriella West

Author of LGBT historical fiction and contemporary queer romance. Copyeditor/proofreader.
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