31st January, 2024
5 min read
Predictions on Genres and Trends in Publishing for 2024 - and the influences self-publishers
As we ease out of January, which can often feel like the longest, darkest month of the year, and turn our attention towards the spring season (traditionally the events season within UK publishing), we have been discussing and planning our attendance at 2024’s writing and publishing events. Part of this involves the team looking at the wonderful books we help authors publish here at Troubador, and picking as many titles as possible to showcase at events during the year.
Another part of this is looking ahead to consider what books, genres, trends and influences from outside the publishing industry will become important in 2024 – this is often a key theme of the events we attend.
The publishing industry continuously evolves and adapts, presenting authors, publishers and readers with new interpretations on genres, topics and formats – and self-publishing authors’ influence continues to shape publishing. So let's explore what's hot and happening in publishing this year.
Diverse Voices, More Choice
Diversity has been a buzzword in publishing for several years, but 2024 feels like it might be the year where increasing numbers of diverse stories and voices will be more widely heard. Influenced by TikTok, readers are increasingly seeking out stories that reflect their own experiences, and publishers are looking for manuscripts that offer authentic voices. Self-publishing has always allowed writers to react more quickly to such changes, and authors choosing this route have been able to tell their own stories, in their voice, with no gatekeepers. This change in the mainstream will hopefully bring more opportunities for more authors as readers are increasingly able to discover and explore new voices.
2023 was the year in which the fantasy and romance genres melded together to bring us ‘romantasy’ …spicy romance with a dash of fantasy. It was also the year of more complex lead characters – from neurodivergent narrators to LGBTQ+ lead characters. It feels as though, in 2024, boundaries between genres will continue to blur as authors experiment, especially with genres and characters, and readers seek out more of these stories. This trend reflects a growing appetite for innovative storytelling that challenges literary norms.
The rise of these subgenres into fully-fledged genres is also being driven by the popularity of subscription boxes.. book services that curate special editions of beautifully finished books. There is a growing market of readers who are willing to spend extra on beautiful books and special editions, which looks set to continue.
For self-publishing authors looking to capitalise on this trend, books with high-quality production – including cover effects and printed edges – are in demand. Why not speak to Troubador’s production team, who are experts in creating such products and designs, and our marketing team, who can produce innovative marketing materials to go along with them?
As readers seek out personalized reading experiences, niches are thriving in 2024. From local mysteries to mythology, publishers are catering to niche audiences. This trend reflects the diversification of reader preferences. As a boon to self-publishing authors, niches can make marketing your book much simpler (it’s easier to market to niches than to ‘everyone’), and readers in these genres are often great at word-of-mouth recommendations on authors and books too.
Bookshops on the High Street
2024 will see continued pressure on the high street as rises in the minimum wage, increased energy and shipping costs will be felt by low-margin businesses. Therefore our support to the local and indie booksellers on our high streets will become ever more important. At Troubador we work hard to build relationships with indie bookshops, supplying them directly or via wholesalers. Each year we work with an increasing number of shops building relationships to benefit us both. As readers and authors, why not look to build those high street relationships yourself too, and consider buying beyond the online retailers when funding your literary habits?
Reflecting World Events
The world and world events continue to be complicated and to change rapidly. Human reaction to these events is often reflected in the choices of books readers make. From dystopian tales to uplifting stories, literature can be a foil to the complexities of the world. Biographies, especially political and historical, might offer us a chance to understand and make sense of the world, but fiction can offer us escapism. As 2024 continues to challenge us all, books remain a safe harbour, and the popularity of books looks set to continue to guide us through, great news for writers and self-publishers.
Cover Prices on Printed Books
Consumers have become used to paying between £7.99-£8.99 for a paperback – and prices have remained relatively unchanged for several years. Yet with all the costs associated with producing and selling books rising, publishers must start to consider increasing book prices. Average book prices began rising by up to £2 in 2023 with hardback books now seeing an average price of £22 as a RRP - and this trend looks set to continue.
Self-published authors already have to make a decision about how to price their book – costing it to make a return when bookseller discounts are taken into account, but also being careful not to price themselves out of the market. Cover prices increasing across the board is something that will help most indie authors when it comes to appropriately pricing their titles, but it will put pressure on readers already grappling with tight budgets. For those canny authors who build brands and relationships with readers, however, the opportunities to foster relationships directly with readers and build a fan base can negate rising costs, as superfans are willing to pay more for books by their top authors. Direct-to-reader marketing has never been so important.
Self-Publishing Empowers Authors
Self-publishing allows authors to bring their stories directly to readers. Self-publishing gives authors greater control over their creative work and a direct line to their audience and will continue to develop and grow, embracing new technology in 2024. Elsewhere the literary landscape of 2024 will be characterized by increasing diversity in stories, characters and genres, responding to changing reader preferences and wider world trends. One thing that never changes, however, is the longevity of books and the mark they leave on readers.