How full-service self-publishing empowers writers in a crowded literary landscape

13th March, 2024

5 min read

How full-service self-publishing empowers writers in a crowded literary landscape

How full-service self-publishing empowers writers in a crowded literary landscape

Written by:

Jane Rowland

For both established and debut writers, self-publishing has changed the publishing landscape, presenting new opportunities to writers and publishers alike. Changes in technology, opinion and accessibility now mean that self-publishing is an established part of the UK publishing industry. As publishing opens up to more writers and barriers to becoming a published writer are lowered, what is the impact on the increasing numbers of books being published, and how can authors ensure they can still achieve their ambitions in a more crowded space? Finally, we look at how full-service self-publishing can help your book stand out in a very crowded market.

How Many Books Are Published in the UK Every Year? 

Nielsen UK have just released their analysis of the number of books published (with an ISBN, in the UK) in 2023. 

According to the data, an average of 485 new publications were released each day in the UK. This contributed to a 15.6% increase in the total number of new and reissued titles published compared to the previous year. In total, there were 177,034 titles released last year, up from 153,000 the year before. This means Nielsen has now surpassed 50m book-related products on their UK bibliographic database.

Importantly, the figures recorded and reported by Nielsen reflect book products (printed, ebook and audiobooks) that are released with an ISBN acquired through the UK ISBN agency – an important qualification, as authors electing to self-publish via platforms such as Amazon KDP can do so without acquiring an ISBN, and are not counted in the figures above.  

So What about Amazon KDP? 

Amazon doesn’t release their figures in the same way Nielsen do, but figures listed by WordsRated would indicate that, globally, there are 1.4 million titles published every year via KDP. These are titles that are available via Amazon’s platforms and therefore with no requirement to use an ISBN.

The Impact on Authors 

For authors investing time, effort and money in self-publishing, making the decisions that best suit their desired outcomes for their book is important – this now needs to include strategies for getting their work noticed in an increasingly busy publishing world.

Two key factors that we believe make a difference to this are:

  1. Discoverability: This becomes much more important when publishing in a crowded space. Electing to publish on platforms such as KDP can limit your reach and distribution. As you can see with the large numbers of books being self-published via that platform globally, finding a way for your book to stand out becomes far more of a challenge.
  2. The quality of the production and the book matter when you want your book to stand out from the crowd. 

To the first point, choosing to publish with an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), rather than exclusively on Amazon KDP and not using one, offers several benefits to authors – which include: 

  1. Distribution: Ensuring your book has an ISBN opens up opportunities for getting your book sold more widely. Publishing with no ISBN via KDP means your book will be available from that platform only. Books with ISBNs can be sold through all retailers, both online and offline, including bricks-and-mortar bookstores, libraries and other online retailers. ISBNs are a crucial part of the book distribution process – without one you are limiting your reach. At Troubador, our full-service self-publishing services assign every format of your book a unique ISBN, and we handle the metadata dissemination to retailers and the physical book distribution (which is carried out to all major retailers out of our purpose-built warehouse). 
  2. Reach: By registering your book with the ISBN agency and supplying the accompanying metadata that defines and classifies your book, your title will be catalogued in retailer and library databases, enhancing the discoverability of your book. Naturally at Troubador, we take care of this. 
  3. Professionalism: From marketing and creating an author brand viewpoint, having an ISBN indicates your book has been professionally published and is easily available. Some promotional opportunities may require books to have an ISBN – so do not limit your opportunities for accessing promotion, reviews and awards if this is important to you. Troubador’s dedicated marketing team, part of the full-service self-publishing we offer, work on both trade and media marketing for our authors. 

Looking back to our earlier point (quality of production), using a full-service self-publishing company with the staff and expertise to produce books comparable to those you will find on the shelves of a local bookshop can ensure you have a beautiful product that speaks of professionalism and quality.

Print on Demand services like KDP rely on the writer to create and upload their book files – the result being that the end product might not be formatted as readers expect, and often does not ‘feel’ like a book. Are you confident in your typesetting and book layout skills? Can you create striking cover files that will, truthfully, reflect the kind of book readers want to read? Do you know the conventions of publishing, such as preliminary pages and the correct use of margins, fonts, white space…? Finally, there is a more limited selection of papers, formats and enhancements (eg cover foil, embossing) available for printed books on online platforms. 

While publishing exclusively through Amazon KDP can be convenient and cost-effective for some authors, utilising an ISBN and considering using a full-service self-publishing option offers broader distribution, increased credibility and access to a wider range of readers and opportunities, which becomes essential as the numbers of books published each year increase and writers need to work harder to produce a product that stands out.

How Full-service Self-publishing can help 

If we revisit the numbers we looked at the start of this article, 177,034 books published (with ISBNs) per year in the UK in 2023 alongside Amazon’s huge KDP global output (1.4 million).

we can see that increasingly for authors, the act of simply publishing is no longer enough on its own. You also need to invest in your publishing, ensuring you have plans for marketing and distribution, and multi-format options to attract readers in all channels. And that the book has both production and design qualities that give it the best possible start. Full-service self-publishing, as offered by Troubador, delivers a wide range of services and bespoke options that can bolster your publishing to ensure your book is given the best opportunities to stand out.

Rather than being disheartened by the huge number of books being published each year, we see them as liberating. The choice of what we read and how we read has never been as plentiful – but as writers, we need to consider more carefully the entire publishing process to ensure that we maximise our opportunities for production, marketing and distribution to make those connections and sales. Increasingly, that means having the right professional team behind you.