Consolidation, Nooble & Agents Who CARE—What's Ahead for 2014 in Publishing

Image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Mr. Muggles.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Mr. Muggles.

I promised yesterday, I’d offer up some predictions for publishing in 2014. I don’t know if these are “predictions” or “suggestions” but I am, at heart, an eternal optimist. As I’ve said many, many times, this is a WONDERFUL time to be a writer. It’s a Golden Age of Publishing if we’re willing to embrace the new. Yes, there are challenges. I might be an optimist, but I’m not a moron (okay, that time I accidentally drove to Missouri doesn’t count).

There are new perils ahead, ones we won’t know about until we step both feet in them. In ways, writers are The Lewis and Clark Expedition Literary Edition unfolding in 0s and 1s. This part of why I implored yesterday for writers to be involved in their social media communities. This new paradigm is awesome, but predators abound.

Sadly, there will be more wanna-be publishers, more bad books, more phony reviews, more bullying, more competition, and discoverability will only get tougher…exponentially. But, the flip-side is that writers are making more money, novelists can finally make a living, moth-balled novels are seeing new life and creating new fans, and unique and creative genres are being born. Additionally, forms of writing nearly rendered extinct (poetry, novellas, etc.) have been given new life and authors have a lot more choices and control. We trade one set of problems for new advantages (and…yes…new troubles).

Like the dot-com burst of the 90s, this paradigm will eventually find its way. New gatekeepers will emerge and the market will stabilize…until the next revolution. But until that time…

First, Consolidation is King

Back in The Olden Olden Days, humans went to the butcher for meat, the baker for bread, the smithy for nails, and the tailor for clothes. Then Super Walmart was invented (okay grocery stores then supermarkets might have “paved the way” *rolls eyes*). As humans became more pressed for time, consolidation became vital for competitive edge. Now, we don’t have to trek to the liquor store for the New Year’s Eve champagne when we can simply pick it up at the supermarket with the very last fattening food we’re eating EVER….

….okay, until February.

Consolidation is everywhere. Gaming systems no longer just play games. Try ordering a movie on your 1986 Atari. Want to post on Facebook or peruse You Tube? A Nintendo 64 probably won’t do the trick. In 1990, if we said, “Wow, I need to take Christmas pictures. Let me get my phone!” Men in white coats would show up uninvited and take us away for a “vacation.”

Want to take pictures with your PHONE? Might we suggest one of these...

Want to take pictures with your PHONE? Might we suggest one of these…

Gaming consoles (XBox) now stream video, allow us to access movies, Amazon, social media, and even shop. Phones are no longer just phones. They play music, manage bank accounts, surf the web, take pictures and video, and entertain toddlers (um, Angry Birds?). We can even run a business remotely using various applications. Try that on THIS.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Robert Huffstutter.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Robert Huffstutter.

Aside from calling people and generating a seething hatred for those unfortunate souls with too many 0s in their phone numbers? THIS bad boy (above) was good for calling people and letting them call US…and maybe braining a burglar or dazing a Florida cockroach long enough to shoot it with a GUN.

These days, more and more people rely on smart phones and tablets for everything. 

Why do I mention this? Because the future of physical bookstores relies on partnering with other types of retailers. Um, consolidation?

The closest Barnes & Noble to me is in the heart of the BUSIEST FREAKING MALL in DFW, Texas. I am simply not that motivated. What if indie bookstores or Barnes & Noble took the path of Starbucks? Tuck that sucker (a mini-version) in a Target, supermarket or a Costco. I NEED food. Books? Eh, shop on-line. Stick them TOGETHER and lure me with the SHINY. I am SO THERE!

Much like I can buy wine at my local Krogers, why can’t I have a choice of more than a handful of books on one aisle? Make life easier. Gas is expensive and I don’t OWN CLONING TECHNOLOGY, BUT MY LAUNDRY DOES.

*left eye twitches*

This dovetails into my first prediction.

Prediction #1—Kiosks and Microstores Will Gain Traction

Blockbuster is dead. Alas, Red Box remains.

The trade paperback is fairly standard, so digital kiosks are a great alternative. Make the Espresso technology a lot like Red Box. A touch-screen panel to peruse recommended books then pay for either a) a download or b) a rental (limited e-book that expires—integrating the library into this business plan) or c) a printed book (with a coupon for 15% off a latte or grocery purchase over $50, of course).

A “rental”? Yup. Wouldn’t that be great for those books we were forced assigned to read in high school and college? And, if we “rent” the book, this can count towards the purchase of the book if we do want to actually keep and reread Moby Dick. Win-win.

If Best Buy will do this, why not B&N?

If Best Buy will do this, why not B&N?

Microstore? YES.

Think of the small stores in airports. I’d much rather have a small store with an educated and well-read staff to help guide what to read than to throw chance to the wind on-line. Microstores can still stock the most popular paperbacks/hardbacks/collections, but then they can guide consumers what to load on their new devices (and maybe even help) or print on the Espresso machine.

The largest consumer group is the Baby Boomers. An educated bookseller could not only guide what to read, but also demonstrate how to upload books to the new device. Maybe even load some freebies for great customer service? *wink, wink*

These booksellers can act as gatekeepers to help modern consumers avoid the digital slush pile. Indies, self-pub and traditional would be on a level playing field. Good books would be recommended by staff members who READ and who are PASSIONATE about BOOKS. Pay the book salespeople a flat commission. Who cares if they recommend James Patterson or Joe Schmoe Patterson? They sold a book and if they want customers to return and offer more commission? They’ll probably want to recommend good books.

Prediction #2—Booksellers Cultivate a Culture of Reviewers

Microstores can also encourage reviews in a way authors can’t. I’d love to offer sweet prizes for reviewing my book, but it’s just too…what’s the term? Creepy. Sure, I want reviews as much as the next author, but it’s a fine line that can get writers in ethical trouble. A microstore wouldn’t have this issue. They could actually cultivate a culture of reviewers.

Original image via Flikr Creative Commons courtesy of Sodanie Chea

Original image via Flikr Creative Commons courtesy of Sodanie Chea

Micro Indie Booksellers could offer incentives to the best reviewers who write ACTUAL reviews (no matter what book it happens to be, thus removing problem of favoritism). If people act like trolls or play sock puppet? Doesn’t count. The more the customers review, the better (educated) reviews they post? The more bonuses they receive. Booksellers can reward consumers for being active and ethical citizens of the reading culture.

This helps the microstore, the bigger retail outlet (who rents space and partners with discounts), the consumer struggling to save time and who needs guidance, and it helps authors get REAL reviews. Not this, pay us to read your stuff and say something nice nonsense. It’s a positive way to combat bullying and encourage thoughtful, genuine reviews.

Prediction #3—The Boutique Boom

We already touched on this when we discussed micro-trends, but part of why Big Publishing is hemorrhaging is because small is the new big (thanks, Seth Godin). Big Publishing makes most of its profits off the mega-trend, but mega-trends are dying. Amazon has grown exponentially because it harnesses the momentum of millions of micro-trends. Authors don’t have to reach millions of people to make a good profit/living (if one takes away the needless waste of the old paradigm). Publishers don’t either ;).

Prediction #4—Strong Indie Houses Will Replace Big Publishing

Granted, we live in a time when everyone can be an author and everyone can be a publisher, but this business is tough. It requires capital, business savvy, organization, innovation and raw tenacity. This means a lot of indie publishers won’t last, and the ones that do will add increasing value. Because these new publishers are innovative, lean, offer higher royalties, and aren’t married to massive Manhattan overhead and paper, they’ll eventually replace NY publishing (and we hope they’ll learn from The Big Six’s mistakes).

When one considers the current business trajectory? Bookstores, libraries and foreign markets are becoming increasingly friendly to indies. They have to in order to survive. Loyalty to NY only goes so far when one is facing extinction. What will NY do when indies can do everything they can and offer lower prices to consumers and higher pay for authors?

Image via Flikr Creative Commons courtesy of Robert Ellsworth Tyler

Image via Flikr Creative Commons courtesy of Robert Ellsworth Tyler

Prediction #5—AP Reviewers Will Be Forced to Take ALL Authors Seriously or Perish

As is stands, it’s almost impossible for a self-published author to score an AP (Associated Press) review. Yet, when we’re now in a time when non-traditional authors are matching or outselling traditional authors? How long can the AP remain silent about the books people are reading? If they don’t dive in? Book bloggers will happily replace them, and maybe they should. The press was never meant to solely be a mouthpiece for conglomerates.

Prediction #6—Social Norms Will Trump Market Norms

Freebies, give-aways, contests, algorithms, coupons, are fine, but alone? Invisible. Writers must be engaged personally and create community or it’s Career Roulette. We (consumers) don’t want any more deluge of free stuff. We are drowning in FREE. We don’t want more newsletters crapping up our In-Box. We don’t want link spam.

We want connection.

The 18th-20th century world was actually a historical anomaly. The factory model, the TV-Industrial Complex, the World of Big Business and Bigger Gatekeepers is GONE. We’ve returned to our human roots. We want to laugh, talk, klatsche, and we gravitate to who we know and like. We humans are returning to our tribal roots.

Algorithms will be harder to manipulate, reviews tougher to fake, and promotions will grow increasingly invisible, especially as new emerging markets add even more competition to the din.

Prediction #7—Age of the Artist

Multimedia is the future. Books eventually have to be more than books (much like phones became more than phones). Consumers will gravitate to e-books with sound, music, images, quick reference, video, similar reading suggestions, etc. Artists working together will thrive. E-books can create communities where fans can become friends, talk, argue, and hang out.

Musicians? Make friends with writers and offer short music selections. Photographers and graphic artists? Writers need cover art and internal images. Videographers? Writers need book trailers that don’t suck. Also, short video clips can enhance the reading experience. Heck, team up and put together music videos for a book. Get creative!

We are ARTISTS. This means we cannot be automated or replaced by robots. ENJOY!

No, I am not saying paper will go away. It won’t. But when I bought an IPad for business, it was soon abducted by a two-and-a-half-year-old and I haven’t seen it since. The Spawn reads. A LOT. But he reads off the IPad, because he loves interacting.

Prediction #8—A New Breed of Reader

I mention the IPad, then quickly hear the cry of the, “But you’ll damage their BRAINS” crowd. Uh huh. Just like those record players paired with books damaged me when I was four. The interactive experience has always been there. In cave times, it was around a fire listening to a storyteller/bard. Later, book clubs, records, tapes, blah, blah, blah. Interactivity has always been there, only today, it’s been heightened to new levels.

And when I was that nerdy teen reading a paper book ALONE, what I would have given for a crowd of likeminded teens all over the world who shared my love for Dragonlance books and my passion for The Pawn of Prophesy. I love how detractors decry that technology makes people less able to socialize, because I was SO SOCIAL with my stack of paper books hiding in a corner of the lunchroom praying no one would notice me.

The new paradigm has finally accomplished what Big Publishing couldn’t. It’s made reading COOL and this trend will continue to grow.

Prediction #9—Barnes & Noble Needs a Sugar Daddy Bail-Out

Barnes & Noble has been on the downward spiral for a while. What I find funny is people feel sorry for them. Remember the 90s when they all-but-demolished the indie bookstore in Darwinian fashion? Seems like karma is coming back to bite, Blockbuster-Style. B&N is facing serious comeuppance now that the bully has met with someone capable of bloodying their nose. If they do survive, they’ll have to marry well. My bet is on two major suitors.

Suitor #1? Microsoft. And I am not alone in this assessment. Microsoft operating systems still dominate tablets, personal computers, and smart phones, so the Nook can be easily integrated into the operating systems of all Microsoft devices. Microsoft would take over the e-books and B&N would survive. Yes, Microsoft has dated dabbled, but never offered a ring.

Or perhaps, one day we will tell our grandchildren of grand two-story buildings with coffee shops inside and “business hours.”

In my day we had to get in a car and drive and find PARKING and look on actual SHELVES for a book *waves cane*.

Suitor #2? GOOGLE.

Apple’s relentless innovation has slowed since the death of Steve Jobs, and Android is taking them on. The Google-Android partnership has Apple on its toes in regards to automobile iOS systems. It’s the Siri-Google Smackdown! While Apple is fighting on that front, Microsoft could take a chunk out of iBooks with a B&N bailout (and give Amazon some competition at the same time).

Or, if we want to go for the most interesting Bailout-Marriage, why not Google Books? A SEARCH ENGINE marrying a BOOKSTORE? If Google can partner with Android, B&N isn’t exactly as wild of a partnership as it might sound. If Google-Android does win the Computerized Car Business, cars are now big into downloading entertainment. AUTOTAINMENT. Want to listen to an audio book on the commute? Want to synch your reading device while stuck in traffic or on a long road trip (not while driving, please)? Want to download a new book for the kids fighting in the back seat?


Um, Goo-Barnes…



Hmm, Noble Google. Kinda catchy :D. Though Nooble is cute.

Prediction #10—Agents Will Have to Innovate, Too

Agents. Yeah. I recall the days when conferences would pay big bucks for agents to attend…and then the agents refused to talk to authors. I can personally attest to enduring the brunt of daring to talk to those who’d come down from Mt. Olympus NYC to talk to me, a lowly mortal…writer. *shivers* They sneered that we made a typo in a query, yet couldn’t be bothered to even spell our names correctly in a rejection letter (been there). Agents tweeted lines out of queries as jokes. They laughed and mocked writers on-line worse than a den of high school Mean Girls, but now?


Writers still have a job.

REVELATION! Agents need writers. Whouda’ thunk? Now, make no mistake, I think agents are awesome. We are wise to have a good agent. Many agents are tireless champions who should be paid better, but the old paradigm birthed a lot of prima donnas who forgot who paid their wages.

Some of the BEST people I know are agents. Laurie McLean (of Forward Literary) is not only a FABULOUS agent, but a marvelous human being and my friend. BUT, Laurie is there for WRITERS. She’s a warrior for good writers and great books, and there are many agents like her. In the new paradigm? Agents like these will thrive and they SHOULD.

Authors need allies and agents can help even the self-pubbed or indie author. Laurie is extremely forward-thinking and always has been. When I first taught social media in 2008? She was the only agent out of TEN who attended. She’s AMAZING at planning author careers. She can tell you when to self-pub (if it’s right for you/your work), then guide you to the best indie or traditional house (and deal) and then take your work as far as it can and should go.

She’s always on the lookout for the perfect path for each writer and every work (Red Sofa Literary, established by Dawn Frederick, is another fab choice). These folks do what agents should do! Agents like Laurie, Dawn and their teams will thrive and the others? Well, let’s hope they can learn and innovate ;).

What are your thoughts? Do my predictions make you happy or break out in hives? What do YOU see in the future? HOW do you do it? Because I had to drink three packs of Red Bull to see the future. What would you LIKE to see coming down the pipeline?

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of December, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less). Comments for guests get extra POINTS!

I hope you guys will check out my latest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World and get prepared for 2014!!!!


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  1. So Thankful for the Inspiration of your Talent this year. Blessings for a Peaceful and Joyous New Year~

  2. Reblogged this on Laurie Boris, Freelance Writer and commented:
    I love these ideas, especially the microstores and actually COMMUNICATING with people. Happy New Year and New Brave New World, everyone!

  3. Love it, Kristen! I’m optimistic under my snarky coating, so I’m hoping these ideas (or at least some of them) see the light of day. So does my backlist. 😀

  4. Exciting and creepy. Sometimes I fear a little too much “Idiocracy.” I LOVE the idea of boutique books or boutique book stores and will be rooting for that. I also realize I still have a staggering amount of knowledge to acquire especially about ebooks. Do you think that even though we are more connected intellectually, we are physically more separated? It freaks me out a little, but I am mostly hopeful.

    1. What’s strange is ON-LINE friends come to visit my home more than LOCAL friends. I have a BFF I met in the middle of the night on Twitter who travels from LONDON to see me EVERY YEAR. I can’t get this kind of commitment from family who only has a 40 minute drive.

  5. All of your points make sense to me. Which makes me wonder how the Missouri incident ever happened? 🙂

    1. Early days of cell phones. I was tired after a day of sales meetings in Tulsa and someone called just as I was getting on the turnpike for OKC. OK looks, um ALL THE SAME. Didn’t realize I was headed north instead of south until…um, Missouri *hangs head*

      1. Bummer. Don’t you just hate when that happens? Happy new year!

      2. I live in Tulsa and I’ve got on the expressway heading the wrong direction more times than I’d like to admit. It’s easy to do here.

  6. I love the idea of book boutiques. “I’ll take this novel and a matching gift bag, Oh, and toss in a matching scarf too, please!”

  7. WordPress is trying my patience once more and refusing to load the like buttons so just want to let you know I popped by and wish you a Happy New Year

  8. I’m so glad you mentioned the Expresso Book machines! We have several titles in the program and it supports our eco-friendly focus. Our authors tell us that the print quality is indistinguishable from the printer version. (Although, well, we can tell). I really hope B&N does manage to refit itself (again). My store is within walking distance of the grocery store and poses a constant temptation.

    1. I hope these catch on–such a cool concept!

  9. Wow, I loved that article. I also hope that people will quit acting so immature and people can work together to accomplish things, because the more help we have, the farther we can go.

    1. It’s the WANA WAY. We are NOT ALONE!

  10. Kristin, I love this post!!! You have touched on so many wonderful ideas, hopes and dreams! I like the idea of consolidation and a Microstores. I am happy that B&N is getting a bite in the butt. I have boycotted them for a while simply because the customers service SUCKS! I also agree that book reviewers like myself need more interaction from readers and that writers need to step out and up and talk to people. Communicating is the best way to grow and get support from each other.

    Please put my name in the hat and I plan to reblog this post because it is absolutely worth reading! Thanks so much for sharing.

  11. Loved the article! Thanks for sharing! I reposted one of your points on my blog!

  12. Reblogged this on The Neophyte Writer and commented:
    READ this post! It is very enlightening. This is information everyone can put in their tool kit for the new year.

  13. I think your predictions make sense. I think the kiosk thing will be given a try, but the ebooks are not going to work because we can get all th ebooks we want through the tablet or ereader interface, no need for a big box. I do think that paper backs from a box is brilliant though.

    B&N teaming up with Google would be awesome. I think they could give Amazon a run for their money. Microsoft would not be as good of a partner. Google would offer cutting edge thinking in terms of new delivery methods. We need someone to compete with Amazon in the ebook market, KOBO and Smashwords just don’t cut it.

    Last comment, for now. I look forward to how new publishers and agents will make use of new technology to discover freash talent. We need to find a way to make reading main stream again and get people unplugged from the TV. It will take team work between writers, agents and publishers to make that happen… and maybe Amazon and/or Google to support them.

    Keep up the good work and I look forward to what you bring to your blog in 2014.

    1. I think kiosks will support mainly print, but it doesn’t take much more programming to offer e-books too. Why limit? I feel the microstore would be FAR better suited for both. THANKS! ((HUGS))

      1. You know, they already have print on demand stuff. Why can’t they make a kiosk machine that just stocks paper, covers, ink, and prints you whichever damned book you want from the whole of whatever distributor they’re contracted with?
        Imagine the power of ProjectGutenberg, Google Books, or Amazon in one of those? Search it, print it, bind it in front of you, and sell it for seven bucks.
        I’d buy it.

        1. I think you are talking about the Expresso Book Machine, it really does exist! And yes, that would be cool. I hear they are expensive right now, but prices on these things do usually come down.

            • Ensis on January 3, 2014 at 9:24 am

            You mean Expresso Bookstores are POD already? Good for them. It would be great to have one in my supermarket! Especially if it was affordable.

          1. I know that the library in DC has one, and I had heard that the Boston Public Library was planning on one (I was a librarian in NH for a few years, and it was of interest). Personally, I do my shopping for books from the comfort of my own home.

            • Ensis on January 3, 2014 at 9:37 am

            Yes, I usually get stuff on my Nook, but if they linked it up with Google Books or Project Gutenberg for that out of print or public domain stuff… well I guess it wouldn’t be in that great a demand for people other than myself, now I think about it.
            It’d still be cool, though.

          2. It would be very cool. I know that my experiences working with Createspace for publishing this last year have impressed me. We have come such a long way, and the future seems limitless.

  14. The only one I’m on the fence about is microstores. A great IDEA, but will it get capital?
    Denver’s Tattered Cover HAS opened up three microstores in Denver Int’l Airport 🙂
    Thanks to YOUR advice, Kristen, I’m on an indie publisher. I can never thank you enough!
    Happy New Year, everyone!

  15. I’d like to print out #8 and staple it to some people’s foreheads. 🙂 No one else in my high school had even heard of Dragonlance. Now I know someone on the other side of the world (who I can chat with in real time without running up a huge phone bill) with a black cat named Raistlin.

    I love living in the future. 🙂

    1. Did you kind of have a crush on Raistlin too? *hangs head*

      1. I did. We need to form a support group.

      • Jennifer Rose on December 31, 2013 at 12:54 pm
      • Reply

      Haha! That was one of the first two books I downloaded on my Nook! “Dragonlance” and “The Well at Worlds End.” 🙂

  16. I can see bookstores becoming smaller and more specialized like comic book stores, which cater to specific crowds in a small store with low overhead.

  17. Happy New Year!

  18. The idea of interacting is key to developing a new kind of reading experience. Great post as always.
    Happy New Year – may it bring you health, love and words.

  19. Kristen, you are so fun to read. BTW, when those micro stores open, I want a job lol. Happy New Year, Silent

  20. I read this with great interest. I wrote for I wanted to and hoped to be out there published. Now I write just to write and if it happens it would be a miracle. At my age miracles are scarcer. Thanks for a dose of reality. Everyone else is trying to sell me the pipe dream and it is going up in smoke.

  21. Happy New Year, Kristen!

    Great post about the possibilities. Also, you brought back lots of memories of reading Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

  22. Great predictions, Kristen. I love the Google books idea and the fun names. Happy New Year!

  23. Reblogged this on Sophia Kimble.

    • M Roltoning on December 31, 2013 at 11:28 am
    • Reply

    Great article, both for writers and industry professionals. Especially found the idea about Indie publishers particularly interesting, whilst reminding authors that agents need them! 🙂

  24. Great predictions that certainly ring true.

  25. This post was as good as I’d hoped. Thank you. I’m onboard with your points, though I’m don’t see bookstores/microstores surviving in any form we can yet envision. As the population ages fewer will be married to print books. Amazon continues to improve its shopping experience and given the ease with which I can download the effort required to even cross the aisle for a book becomes questionable. It may be the social dimension that saves such establishments.

    Interactivity? I love it. I already pair my blog with a Pinterest board and that’s only a minor step. So much more is possible. I adore providing maps with my fantasy writing and envision an easily-accessable 3D map that the reader can access while reading.

    I especially took note of authors working together (the WANA way, of course). I’m remembering when I was little (when Nixon was president, or was that Hoover…?) and going to the doctor meant a tiny office where he (almost all men then) had a nurse and maybe a receptionist. Now you go to this large structure where at least half-a-dozen doctors are located, some specialists. Too, there are a score of support staff and nurses of various kinds. I can see authors banding together in such a way (minus the physical structure) where their parts become greater than the whole. I don’t mean they simply take turns posting, but interact and feed off each other’s creativity while each shares their own specialties (writing and otherwise).

  26. This is a wonderful look at the state of the state of the future state of books/publishing. I have one observation concerning Barnes & Noble: take a leaf from Border’s Books and put some computer stations in the stores to assist customers in finding their desired books. Maybe it is just me, but I feel as if I have to approach the High Priest/ess at the Altar of Information whenever I look for something-not-currently-mainstream. No such problem with Amazon.

    I think that there is room for traditional printed books and eBooks, it is not and either/or proposition. Your ideas of micro-stores and rentals makes a lot of sense. Here’s hoping that a business model emerges that benefits consumers and shareholders alike.

    • Carrie Kwiatkowski on December 31, 2013 at 11:37 am
    • Reply

    I’m new to your blog and I’m already hooked! Great articles, full of information and inspiration. Thank you!

  27. I’m having my first novel published by PDMI in January 2014. I have no knowledge of the ‘Big’ publishers but I can say the enthusiasm, attention to detail and sheer flair exhibited by this firm would take a lot of beating. They promote your book, and they also take your heart, and not many big firms can say that

  28. Awesome predictions!!! 🙂

    And I can attest to Laurie McLean’s fabulousness… Partnering up with her has been a godsend! The woman is fearless and excited for the future… Love it!


  29. Great post, Happy New Year, giving this post a plug on my first post of the New Year tomorrow on

    • Jennifer Rose on December 31, 2013 at 12:55 pm
    • Reply

    Great Post! I’m one of those people who see it as kind-of sad that big box bookstores are dying, more for the sadness you get when anything dies than my love for them. My mother’s bookstore was one of those small bookstores that was obliterated by big box bookstores opening in Boulder in the mid-90s. Of course, there’s always an ebb and flow in business and this is just their time.

    I was recently reading a great article stating how some small bookstores are thriving – and they are doing exactly what you said: consolidating functions (ex. Coffee) and creating a community (atmosphere, events, etc.). I love the idea and can’t wait for my books to be on their shelves!

  30. I LOVE the idea of e-books books we can rent for a fee!

  31. I think your predictions are spot-on. Great to read your shout-out for my friend Laurie McLean and her cohorts at Foreword Literary!

  32. It sounds like an exciting time to be breaking into the writing world ‘finger wave’ I can’t wait to see what the future brings. I particularly liked your idea of Micro-stores, I think they could be a huge hit, especially if they have a Tim Hortons or Starbucks attached 🙂
    Happy New Years,
    Jacquie Biggar

  33. Reblogged this on jbiggarblog and commented:
    great predictions from Kristen on the future of writing

    • Anne Marie on December 31, 2013 at 1:40 pm
    • Reply

    This is brilliant! I think Amazon will be the microstore though. They’ll beat B&N AGAIN.

    • brianameade on December 31, 2013 at 1:42 pm
    • Reply

    This is fantastic. I love these innovative ideas. I like that you are optimistic.

  34. Reblogged this on "DON'T READ BOOKS" and commented:
    You have to read this. You have to.

  35. Another Laurie McLean client/fan here! She’s incredible, professional yet caring, and brilliant. Foreword Literary is up to any challenge.

  36. I went to one of those writing conferences where the editors treat you like snot and I figured if I was gonna spend four hundred dollars to have someone call me dirty, I’d hire a dominatrix and at least get some fun out of it.

    Although I DID meet Laurie McLean at one of those conferences and she was so nice! Made me feel good about my book, even if it was a ‘training wheels’ novel as she put it and encouraged me to submit future work to her. She proved that rejection doesn’t have to sting.

    1. Laurie is AWESOME. She rejected me too. She doesn’t rep NF. Jerk :P. Kidding! She is really a beautiful person and I am happy you are still pressing.

  37. Loved your article. Let’s see which of the predictions come true next year.

    Happy New Year!

  38. Happy New Year, Kristin. Awesome post and I don’t speak up much, but I wanted you to know how much I enjoy your articles (and humor). Now, on to conquer 2014…

  39. I’m not sure I can handle book kiosks. Go grocery shopping and see a kiosk filled with books? I’d be there for hours and end up with melted ice cream in the cart. =)

    Happy New Year!

  40. Can’t wait to see how right you’ll be! Happy new year!

  41. Happy New Year, Kristen!! I am an avid reader of your blog but lurk in the corner most of the time :-). I just wanted to say thank you for the time you take to deliver such awesome posts, this one was no exception. I have learned a lot from you over the past couple of years since I got hooked on your blog. I hope you and your family have a wonderful 2014.

    • Holly R. on December 31, 2013 at 3:29 pm
    • Reply

    Prediction #7 had me a little nervous, I must admit. Then I read the rest of it. A very good idea. If I could partner with my sister (who’s into visual design while I’m into writing), we’d be twice as good as just one of us alone.

    Btw, Nooble? Genius. Pure genius.

    1. I thought it was kinda catchy :D…

    2. Yes, but will they LISTEN? Thanks for the genius comment. It happens rarely when the moon is full and Venus is in line with Pluto that’s no longer a planet….*awkward*

  42. There’s much food for writers’ thoughts here, my own preference is marriage of genres and media to form true “adventure books” requiring participant reader interaction to change the virtual-novel’s ending.

  43. Kristin Dahling,

    You are a true visionary. I am excited to be an author (yes, I made $13.68 selling books this year, dammit! I’m an author! 🙂 ) in this new paradigm. Your insight and enthusiasm brighten my day and your humor makes me laugh out loud (no, not just LOL, really laughing). I’m sure we are in for a wild ride but at least we are at the reins of our own destiny. NYC can follow behind and clean up OUR road apples for a change. Thanks for the great posts and if and when I get to DFW, I will come see you in person. Door is always open in L.A. (should you lose your mind completely), Happy New Year to you, hubby and the Spawn-boy.


  44. Awesome Post. I have already seen signs of your predictions. My school bookstore already allows us to rent textbooks for a semester, Plus Amazon Prime lending. It’s not hard to see this being taken farther.

  45. Great post. I’m glad to see these predictions. I totally agree, the micro-trend is here and probably here to stay.

  46. Kristen – After reading your post I headed straight to the kitchen for a snort of tequila, I kid you not. I’ve published 2 novels through my own tiny WKMA Publishing company and enjoyed good reviews, respectful sales (though nothing I can openly brag about) and so far have one award under my belt. I did all the work myself. Used my own photos for the covers, designed the layout, registered copyrights, applied for ISBN numbers, uploaded to LSI, etc. – – all of it start to finish. My pay off has been moderate success. But I need more in order to break out of the pack – so I’m thinking Jan 2 I’ll launch an all-out promotion campaign. Trouble is – like you – I think the freebies are dead and gone. No one reads blogs anymore except other writers who can ill afford to download books when they have to-be-read piles from here to kingdom come. Book stores continue to shun my “indie” status. Promotion, shmotion. Some of the kinky tricks for promoting I’ve read about are just short of circus antics. Do I really want to go that route?

    Then I read the changes you predict for 2014 and want to morph into a turtle so I can jerk my head into my shoulders and slam my door. How will I ever be able to spend the quality time necessary for promoting my two novels and at the same time figure out how to include my books in all the formats you mentioned. (I am anything but a tech type?very very slow at figuring it all out.) I’ve already unbalanced the scales by spending so much time on formatting book covers, uploading/downloading/injecting/rejecting/exploding/imploding – Well you get the picture. It’s time away from writing. And, sadly, now thats all I want to do – move on to my next tome. I’ve toyed with the idea of seeking a “real” publishing house. But ask myself if I’m willing to give up the artistic freedom I now enjoy. An agent? I figure, hell, I’m barely breaking even. By the time a publishing house and an agent take a cut, well deserved may they be, I’ll be in the hole again. (For the record: I hired highly recommended editors for both of my books. For the second book I also hired a designer but provided her with my cover photo and a sample layout. By going that route it saved me about a week’s time which translated into more writing time.)

    I struggle.

    I agree with you completely about strong indies carrying the business forward in the future and that social norms will trump the Big Guys. I already see that through my associations with book clubs and a few talks I’ve given at social clubs, etc. I always, always hold a q & a time because I learn what readers think of the industry as a whole, what stories they enjoy, why, etc. And too, I ask a show of hands for those who read/use e-readers and those who prefer paper. The more I learn from them, the better my “aim” as a writer.

    One trend you didn’t mention, or predict, that I see ahead is a drop in the number of indie authors uploading to Kindle, Nook, iBook, etc. Most I run across, or who seek me out, bank on hitting it big with one unedited book written so amateurishly that one can only suck in a bottom lip and bite down. While I’m sorry for them in the end, the truth is, it will clear the way for better indie books, save the indie industry embarrassment and raise the quality bar.

    You asked, too, what I’d like to see coming down the pike. I hope there is some kind of consolidation of methods for participating in the different programs for selling books as you mentioned. As it is now I have to know/remember/decipher how to upload to 5 or 6 different sales outlets. I’d really like to keep my “fake” publishing company going so I can make my own creative and business decisions. But, that means less time to write – which is counter to my over all goal. And, if as you say, lots of new options are coming our way, I’ll be buried in the whys and wherefores in order to stay on the Main Highway?.

    Big huge sigh??


    Karen Casey Fitzjerrell

    Author of: Forgiving Effie Beck (July 2013) and The Dividing Season, 2013 EPIC Award Winner

    1. Dude, I can’t even figure out my e-mail, LOL. My book is NOT for the tech crowd, :D. People DO read blogs and it’s the most stable form of social media. You will get there. This is why I created the WANA community. We need emotional support because this *magic* doesn’t happen in a day. ((HUGS))

  47. Happy New Year! As part of my resolution, I will try to quit spelling your name Kristin *hangs head in shame.*

    Nooble – Pure KristEn-Lamb-GENIUS!!!! That along with Viking Women’s pants and breastplates and 2014 is going to be truly amazing 😉

    And while I love all of your bold predictions – I’m terrified of the one area I struggle – MARKETING. But thankfully, you’re here to keep giving us wonderful little gems to keep us going.

    I have appreciated all of your posts this year, and I look forward to telling you the same in December 2014.

  48. Great article. I honestly do think a lot of this will come to pass. I’m not sure about the multimedia thing though. I think it might spike for awhile, but I think good old-fashioned text will prevail. I think multimedia books will be more like audiobooks – they’ll have a niche, but they’ll never overtake the market – or like webpages with too many fancy blinking lights – we’ll be entranced at first, but then find out they give us a headache. Just my thoughts though. 😉

    1. Talk to kids *rolls eyes*

  49. Thanks for the predictions. Alas, I believe you’re more right than not. It’s crazy. Yes, writers do still have a job. Without our creation, there’s nothing to read anyway.

    • Jeff King on December 31, 2013 at 5:59 pm
    • Reply

    I’m a WANA newbie. Bought your first 2 books, and am reading, highlighting, and taking notes in a legal pad. Scared to death though. I feel like Dr. McCoy on Star Trek – “Dammit Kristen! I’m an author, not a social media butterfly!” And today you are talking about INTERACTIVE BOOKS? Yikes! A small publisher put out my church skit series years ago, and Sandlollar Productions read one of my screenplays, so I’m thinking I’m at least an OK writer (background; actor). I self-published my first novel, but don’t know poop about marketing it. I have the sales to prove it. After running into you, I realized what a dope I am there. So big pride swallow and into student mode under your tutelage. Given your success and track record on predictions, I think I’m following the right star! My plan is to put together a plan/action items as a foundation for execution, and then step into the void. Kinda like Indiana Joes stepping out on faith in The Last Crusade. Wish me luck!

  50. Thanks for another great article. 🙂

  51. I loved the Dragonlance chronicles. Raistlin is still the ultimate anti-hero for me!

  52. Thanks Kristen – your blogs are always interesting, full of “smack in the face” impact and fun to read. For a new writer like me, you provide much intellectual stimulus reinforcing my steep and exciting learning curve in this digital age. I especially love your community idea and small bookshops within megastores with staff who love reading and recommending books/ ebooks. Have a great 2014!

  53. Some fascinating predictions here. I’m interested to see how it plays out. It certainly is a fascinating time to be ‘working towards becoming an author’.

  54. Reblogged this on page pennington and commented:
    Great food for thought.

  55. Reblogged this on
    Great food for thought. It is becoming a new world for writers.

  56. Yes! I hope these all come true and I think you really have something. I’m waiting for more of the “buy the paper book, get the [ebook or other cool exclusive]” deal. A few have caught onto this idea, but need to do it!

  57. I continue to learn so much from you. I think your predictions are going to prove to be pretty accurate. As an author/illustrator I’ve felt like I’m on the outside looking in for years. Refreshing to know the power is going back into the hands of the artist. Happy new year to us!

  58. Agents!!!!!! I heard two talks by agents at a conference 10 years ago in which the agents complained about having so many manuscripts to read. Another (with whom I’d paid for the chance to have 10 minutes to speak) asked me if the protagonist in my novel (a leper and a monk) ended up getting married. ANOTHER (also paid) asked me if I’d done any research because she was sick of reading historical fiction that wasn’t researched (and she could NOT have been an expert on any area of history). This experience left me absolutely jaded on the subject of agents — never mind that the one who DID sign me sat on my book (possibly literally) for two years. I’m pitching a novel now and that part of the process is the worst for me because my experiences left me wondering why these people should have anything to do with my books. NOT a good attitude and not helpful to me at all. Because of this, I hired and rely on an editor. I don’t want to hurt myself.

  59. Target already has several aisles of a small bookstore, and Walmart is not far behind. I don’t see rental books as a business model. Libraries do that for free. Also,libraries have fast, free internet, and public-use computers.

    Really small book vendors, along the lines of the old-fashioned corner news stand, could be viable in places with high foot traffic.

    I agree that in some ways we’re going back to tribal roots.

    1. They could condense those aisles and gain valuable floor space and a business partner. Libraries are government funded. How long will that last with this economy? In Texas (one of the remaining strong economies) they’ve cut the number of libraries and the ones remaining have crappy hours for only a few days. Not that I am all that sad, because they’ve kinda always been jerks. But, Best Buy would benefit from a mini-Amazon bookstore in the corner methinks 😀

  60. My favourite coffee shops are in book stores… I’m OK with reversing the balance 🙂 I think the Costa book awards are a brilliant idea, and look well run.

  61. You know, for a while (meaning years) I forgot that you could have great conversations and friendships with people online. You can’t just shout to the crowd, you need to walk up to them and say hello. I think that is central to the approach you teach with WANA and many of your predictions above.

    1. Pretty much. I like simple and people are fun if we let them in.

  62. “We want connection.

    The 18th-20th century world was actually a historical anomaly. The factory model, the TV-Industrial Complex, the World of Big Business and Bigger Gatekeepers is GONE. We’ve returned to our human roots. We want to laugh, talk, klatsche, and we gravitate to who we know and like. We humans are returning to our tribal roots.”

    There’s something about that paragraph that kicked me in the face. I think it’s gonna be on my mind for the next few days lol.

  63. Ooh also, in the case of the predicted ‘interactive books’, Donald Glover of Community and 30 Rock fame recently released a rap album under his alias Childish Gambino. The interesting bit wasnt that it was a concept album but that its release also coincided with an online script, putting his writerly experience to further use. BUT the script also has his album songs embedded within it as well as video snippets.

    I think maybe that’s the sort of thing that’s a good example of where things may be headed as you suggested. Also, another amusing note is the album title: “Because The Internet”. Very fitting, wouldnt you say? lol

  64. I agree agents can still be very valuable. But we have to make sure we connect with the right one. Happy New Year!!

    1. Yeah, I’ve been through two.

  65. You’ve given me a lot to think about. I like the idea that things are becoming more consolidated again. Although the ease of publishing has enabled me to finally get my work out there, navigating all the different publishing venues and marketing options is difficult. Which are legitimate and which are a waste of time and money? A good agent would be a great thing to have, but how can you tell a good one from a not-so-good one?

  66. I spread word about this post everywhere possible – I’m sure there are many other writers who would love to read this post!

    • Chris Cannon on January 1, 2014 at 12:27 pm
    • Reply

    Informative and freaking funny: I don’t OWN CLONING TECHNOLOGY, BUT MY LAUNDRY DOES. *left eye twitches* I tweeted, FB’d, tumbled, G+ and linked this because I wanted to share with all my writer friends.

  67. This is a great blog Kristen, packed with useful info and spot on trends that help illuminate what often feels like a steep, shadowy climb. Like old age and ballet, publishing is not for sissies:) Starting a small business in a saturated market, which is what writers in effect have to do, calls for resources that traditionally artists have left to the titans of commerce. We can support each other now in ways that take on new meaning. (The Titans by the way got quite a raw deal in the end:)

  68. I can just picture how perfect ebooks with song recordings can be for fantasy writers that make up their own ballads and stuff. Talk about total reader emersion. Also, fun fact: in my state, I actually can’t buy liquor at the grocery store and all the liquor stores close on Sundays. 🙂

    1. In Texas we can’t either. Can buy wine, beer, champagne but no hard alcohol. All liquor stores are closed on Sunday and by 9:00 at night. I always forget that since I only got to liquor store at the holidays to get rum for the desserts, LOL.

    • Seb on January 1, 2014 at 5:41 pm
    • Reply

    But then I click on the supposedly great agents website and the books are published by publishers no better than my own that I got myself submitting through slush and I don’t have to pay 15% . Most of the agents are getting digital first deals with some dumb token advance that you then have to pay 15% on when if you’d gone through the slush you’d make that much money in a month and not have to give up 15% on it. Bit of a con job really.

    • Mr Dandylion on January 2, 2014 at 6:22 am
    • Reply

    My predictions are much darker. KOBO will see an almighty crash, and Kindle will look like it will conquer the empire. A new author will suicide after a sustained online bully campaign, most likely stemming from Goodreads; it will cause major headlines and public anger. Erotic books will have an expected way of finding themselves in front of people’s eyeballs.

    1. I see that. The bullying is out of control for sure.

  69. Someone on twitter the other day commented they wished a TV show was on Netflix so they could go in their room and watch on a smartphone since the living room TV was occupied. I had that zoom-out thought that not so long ago it would be ridiculous to suggest watching TV on your phone. Any show you want, on demand. Crazy.

    I just read that 10% of overrall book sales derive from airport bookstores (sorry I don’t have a source! Information overload!). The Powell’s bookstore in Portland’s airport is amazing. A great selection and staff who know books. I bought as much there as from the larger Powell’s in the city. I love the idea of books gaining more shelfspace in non-bookstores. Like you said, the chain retailers are no longer as accessible (my closest two bookstores are two blocks from each other in a busy downtown district). For those who aren’t seeking out books online, making them more accessible in grocery and retail stores, in kiosks at malls or wherever–that’s amazing. I want more of that, please!

    Lastly, I hope B&N hangs on with a merger. I don’t feel sad for them either, though I would like to keep my Nook and its library! I also want booksellers to survive, and it does require adapting. The brick and mortar I buy from is an indie. I use B&N for ebooks. They need to adapt because their customers already are.

  70. I think you do a disservice to many publishing agents by holding Laurie McLean up as a standard. She’s almost inhuman in how much energy and willingness she has to help writers.

    1. LOL. True. She is a ROCK STAR.

  71. Thought provoking and a fun read. Thanks Kristen

  72. Thanks for this post, and I feel honored you even mentioned my baby sofa 🙂 Happy New Year sis, and fingers crossed I’ll get to you see on my next trip to DFW? I assume I’ll be returning at least in 2015 🙂

  73. I was just talking to a newly self published friend of mine about how important it is for him to get into, and support, independent bookstores. I went to a nearby bookstore to buy some books even though I could have saved money on Amazon. I did it to ‘consolidate’ and stick together. Then they offered me a book signing. Sa-weet!

  74. “The factory model, the TV-Industrial Complex, the World of Big Business and Bigger Gatekeepers is GONE. We’ve returned to our human roots. We want to laugh, talk, klatsche, and we gravitate to who we know and like. We humans are returning to our tribal roots.”
    Also very excited to hear about the Espresso POD machine – i.e. I WANT ONE!!! The very idea of a machine that produces a bound book at my behest is utterly intoxicating.

  75. Wondering if you could comment privately or publicly on PDMI?

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