Did this year actually happen? Can you prove it?
As the calendar ticks inexorably to 2022, getting a finger on the pulse of the business is really difficult, and feels like an exercise in contradictions.
Book sales are really strong but face an uncertain 2022, and it’s as hard as it’s ever been to break out new titles. Supply chain disruptions are roiling the business and even prompting publishers to consider printing their own books again, but apocalyptic out-of-stock problems (so far) haven’t been calamitous, to my knowledge. Amazon considers to cement its dominance, but is showing some signs of weakness as it relies increasingly on sometimes-shady third party sellers. New players entering the business, like Spotify acquiring Findaway to make inroads with audiobooks, could at long last chip away at Amazon’s seemingly unchecked ascendency within the publishing industry.
For authors, it’s also been a time of creative feast and famine. Shifts in the way we utilize and think about our time has freed up more space for creativity, at least In theory. But pandemic-related stressors aren’t gone, and many writers I speak with are struggling to be productive and consistent with their creativity even if they now have the time.
So where does this leave us going into 2022? The traditional industry appears far healthier than many might have predicted in the early days of the pandemic. There are more avenues than ever to get a book to potential readers, but ever-more distractions competing for attention.
What to do in the face of all this uncertainty? We keep muddling forward. This is the way.
Now then, I also compiled some links this week, so let’s get to them!
First, do you now buy mostly e-books? Can you see yourself moving in that direction? Don’t forget to vote in my 15th annual poll!
Do large social media followings help sell books? Well… it depends. This should have been obvious to publishers at least ten years ago, but these days even some top celebrities are seeing lukewarm book sales.
I alluded to this in the opener, but it’s worth taking a look at this extensively reported article by David Streitfeld about Amazon’s struggles to rein in shady third party sellers amid stalling e-commerce revenue. I’m curious to hear your experience, have you curtailed your Amazon shopping?
One of the most popular books of 2021 is one you won’t see on any bestseller list. Say hello to the queer and class-conscious Harry Potter 500,000 word fanfic that has racked up over four million hits.
And one of my favorite annual lists is here! Take a gander at LitHub’s top 101 book covers of 2021.
This week in bestsellers
Here are the top five NY Times bestsellers in a few key categories. (All links are affiliate links):
Adult print and e-book fiction:
- Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult
- Leviathan Falls by James S.A. Corey
- Go Tell the Bees I Am Gone by Diana Gabaldon
- Autopsy by Patricia Cornwell
- The Judge’s List by John Grisham
Adult print and e-book nonfiction:
- The 1619 Project edited by Nikole Hannah-Jones, Caitlin Roper, Ilena Silverman and Jake Silverstein
- The Storyteller by Dave Grohl
- All-American Christmas by Rachel Campos-Duffy and Sean Duffy
- All About Me! by Mel Brooks
- Will by Will Smith
Young adult hardcover:
- You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen M. McManus
- One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
- Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber
- These Violent Delights by Chloe Zhao
- Our Violent Ends by Chloe Zhao
Middle grade hardcover:
- The Christmas Pig by J.K. Rowling. Illustrated by Jim Field
- The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
- Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan
- Stuntboy, in the Meantime by Jason Reynolds. Illustrated by Raúl the Third
- The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs by America’s Test Kitchen Kids
This week on the blog
In case you missed them, here are this week’s posts:
- Gifts for writers! (2021’s tongue-in-cheek gift guide)
- Will you ever buy mostly e-books? (15th annual poll)
- Vagueness kills a query (query critique)
Don’t forget that you can nominate your first page and query for a free critique on the blog:
And keep up with the discussion in all the places!
And finally, New York City is surely the greatest movie star of all time, and Vulture has a pretty darn solid list of the 101 best movies set in NYC.
Have a great weekend!
Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!
For my best advice, check out my online classes, my guide to writing a novel and my guide to publishing a book.
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Photo: Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Follow me on Instagram!