Book trends to look for in 2024

Book trends are typically predictions based on what’s currently all the rage. The topics that are hot at the end of 2023 will likely remain on-trend into 2024. But in today’s dynamic book industry, how we create, discover, and digest books has never been more unpredictable. 

Sure, fantasy novels will always be trendy from a genre point of view. But the diversification of book formats, creator voices, distribution channels, and self-publishing outlets is rapidly reshaping how audiences and creators navigate the literary landscape.

To bring you up to speed, here are some of the most relevant and compelling book trends to look for in 2024.

Surging popularity of self-publishing

Self-publishing isn’t just a publishing option; it’s a burgeoning industry that offers creators more control and potentially higher earnings. Let’s decode what this means for you as a creator.

  • Rapid growth in self-publishing: The self-publishing market is booming with a 17% annual growth rate, significantly outpacing the traditional publishing market’s 1% growth, indicating a dynamic and expanding arena for new creators.
  • Earnings and royalties: Financial gains can be substantial in the world of self-publishing. Creators on only platforms are reaping substantial rewards, with more than 2,000 authors earning over $100,000 in royalties in 2022 alone. Even better, self-publishing platforms typically offer creators up to 70% of sales revenues, considerably more than traditional publishing royalties.
  • Women leading the way: In an encouraging trend, 67% of top-rated self-published books are written by women, offering a contrast to the traditionally published book landscape. 
  • The power of independence: The story of Brandon Sanderson, who raised a record-breaking $41 million through Kickstarter for his self-published books, exemplifies the potential of independent publishing.
  • Recognition and respect: The self-publishing field is gaining recognition, with prestigious awards like the Pulitzer Prize and the British Book Awards now open to self-published creators. This elevates the status and potential of self-published works in the literary community.
  • Publishing frequency and genre diversity: Many self-published creators are prolific, with over half publishing more than 10 books. Romance, fantasy, and crime/thriller genres dominate, accounting for 57% of self-published books.
  • Market share and sales: Self-published ebooks comprise 30-34% of all ebook sales, with an estimated 300 million self-published books sold annually. This reflects a substantial market share and opportunity for new creators.
  • Realistic expectations: While the average self-published book sells 250 copies at an average price of $4.16, the potential for significant earnings exists. However, it’s important to note that 90% of self-published books sell less than 100 copies, and 20% of authors report no income. This highlights the importance of marketing and audience engagement in self-publishing success.
  • Comparative success: Comparatively, among authors who published their first book in the last 10 years, more self-published authors (1,600) have earned over $25,000 a year than traditionally published authors (1,200), according to one survey. 

In addition to novelists and authors, more photographers, fashion designers, and visual artists are self-publishing their books, from interior design portfolios to coffee table books

Not only are higher margins a major draw to self-publishing, but this avenue provides you with complete control over the publishing process and ownership of your work. The absence of traditional publishers and literary agents allows for diversity to thrive and underrepresented voices to be heard, eliminating all creative barriers.

Self-publishing companies offer a range of services, including design, formatting, distribution, and marketing assistance, which are essential if you’re a creator who may not have the resources to manage these aspects independently. In turn, the accessibility, marketability, and print quality of self-publishing platforms have been pivotal drivers in reshaping the book publishing landscape.

Graphic of publishing trends
The self-publishing market is booming with a 17% annual growth rate, significantly outpacing the traditional publishing market’s 1% growth.

Trending book genres

Certain book genres are getting more attention than others as we head into 2024. Based on the most popular books to be published in 2023 and popular genres in recent years, several noteworthy genres are on-trend. Of these, young adult, romance, fantasy, mystery and thriller, historical fiction, science fiction, self-help, and memoir are expected to be popular book genres in 2024. 

We also looked at publishing trends by Eightify, Alyssa Matesic, and a survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of ThriftBooks. Collectively, we found these to be the most popular text-driven book genres of 2023.

  • Fantasy
  • Romance
  • Young Adult
  • History
  • Sci-Fi
  • Comedy
  • Action-Adventure
  • Mystery
  • Horror
  • Thriller/Mystery
  • Self-help
  • Mythology

We also explored the top genres for photo books, graphic novels, and art books in 2023. 

  • Trending photography books: Some of the leading photography book genres include portrait photography, landscape and nature photography, documentary photography, fashion photography, street photography, fine art photography, black and white photography, travel photography, wildlife photography, and photojournalism. There’s plenty for you to pick from!
  • Popular graphic novel genres: Graphic novels continue to be a popular genre, with a wide range of sub-genres and styles. Some of the most prominent graphic novel genres include fiction, memoir, life-writing, documentary journalism, and comic-strip narratives. If you have an interest in selling your visual storytelling, it’s a smart plan to try these genres in 2024.
  • Top art books: Art books are an extremely diverse category, encompassing various styles, movements, and artists. Rather than chasing a trend, you’ll want to feature your work alongside text, whether you’re sharing your painting, sculpture, or more.

These popular genres reflect the diverse and evolving nature of visual storytelling and artistic expression, offering a range of content for enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Person holding a glowing orb up to the sky, which looks like a strange orb as well

Proliferation of photo books

Photo books have become a popular creative outlet for an increasingly diverse market of consumers. While the general photo album market for weddings, family vacations, and more is the biggest pool in this rising tide, the proliferation of photo books extends into many professional applications.

Professional photography portfolios are one of the largest categories, with landscape, wildlife, portrait, and street photographers being a driving force in 2023 and likely will continue into 2024. 

However, such printed works aren’t limited to these photography-specific genres. Independent artists of all types—graphic artists, fashion designers, painters, sculptors, and illustrators—use photo books to showcase their work through a visual narrative. Even marketers are using photo books for visual storytelling and branding purposes. 

If you’re interested in sharing your photo book, the emergence of new technologies is helping to expand the market with state-of-the-art photo printing technologies. Plus, the availability of print-on-demand photo book services allows for professional-quality custom prints and photo books like never before.

Diversification in the industry

The Diversity Baseline Survey (DBS), which gathers statistics about diversity in the publishing workforce, clearly shows a lack of diversity in the publishing industry, specifically underrepresented groups. In short, the industry has been historically white.

But race alone isn’t the only major disparity. DBS also highlighted gender, sexual orientation, and disability-related differences in the publishing industry. Cis women are among the most dominant gender group, representing 74% of the industry, while 81% of the overall industry identifies as straight or heterosexual. 

In response, there’s a considerable push for greater diversity in the book industry, with publishers recognizing the need for diverse voices in books. In 2024, we can expect to see publishers continuing to diversify their workforces’ racial and cultural makeup. 

While the efforts of major publishing houses will be pivotal in shaping the trade book publishing sector, hundreds of indie publishers will also affect the industry’s direction toward greater diversity, equity, and inclusion. These publishers are committed to promoting diversity in all forms of publishing and championing inclusion and employment equality. They support and specialize in publishing diverse and inclusive books, amplifying marginalized voices, and providing opportunities for underrepresented creators. 

If you’re a member of a historically marginalized group or a creator focused on uplifting their stories, 2024 could be your year for a publishing deal. And if publishing deals aren’t your focus, the proliferation of self-publishing is contributing to a more equitable and inclusive publishing landscape that enriches the literary and artistic community.

Adoption of AI

Artificial intelligence is one of the hottest topics in the book industry. However, the use of AI extends far beyond content creation and writing assistance. In 2024, we can anticipate AI having a mainstream role in many aspects of the book industry.

  • Editing and proofreading: AI technologies are rapidly increasing the efficiency of the editing process, allowing you to quickly and accurately identify errors, detect plagiarism, and generate reports. Authors A.I. is one such tool that provides an expert analysis of your work in minutes.
  • Marketing and promotion: AI will enable books to morph into additional revenue-producing mediums in ways we’ve never seen before. AI-powered marketing can help you target the right audience, optimize ad campaigns, and track performance. Craft compelling marketing messages with tools like JasperAI or design engaging branding materials with the help of Looka.
  • Data analytics: AI can analyze market trends, audience preferences, and book sales data to provide valuable insights for publishers and booksellers. This information can help you identify emerging genres, understand reader behavior, optimize pricing strategies, and make data-driven decisions. While there are tons of options, KNIME is a free and open-source platform offering a complete toolkit for analyzing and mining data with machine learning.
  • Book discovery and searchability: AI-powered search algorithms can enhance the discoverability of books. By analyzing book content and user interactions, AI can tailor search results to show relevant books that readers might like. Librarian AI is an early-stage example worth checking out.

Other popular tools like Admiral, DeepL, Spiny, and Hemingway are testaments to the adoption of AI in the book industry, and we can expect to see more platforms in the coming year. 

Expansion of children’s books

If you think the widening market of photo books is compelling, wait until you see the expansion and diversification of children’s books in 2024. Here, we anticipate seeing more children’s books centered around three main topics.

  • Diversity and inclusivity: There is an increased demand for children’s books with diverse characters and stories representing different cultures and backgrounds. It’s not just about skin color or ethnicity. Children with disabilities or in non-traditional family structures deserve to see themselves in the books they read. 
  • Emotional intelligence: Today, children face mounting social complexities and struggles, so there’s a growing need for books that help children understand and manage their emotions. This goes hand-in-hand with how to navigate prevalent social issues children face, like bullying, discrimination, school violence, and issues around social media.
  • Environmental awareness: Creators are acutely aware that the next generation of leaders will ultimately shape the future trajectory of our environment. Books that speak to our planet and the importance of looking after it will continue to be a popular subject for children’s books.

For examples of these book trends, check out the exhaustive list of 2024 children’s book sneak previews from Publishers Weekly.

If you’re inspired to contribute to the vibrant and meaningful category of children’s books, consider what unique perspectives or stories you can offer. Embrace authenticity and think about how your book can resonate with young minds, whether it’s through innovative storytelling, engaging illustrations, or exploring topics not commonly addressed in children’s literature.

Child reading a kid's book, a trending publishing industry genre

Growth in graphic novels

Another billion-dollar book market with explosive growth in recent years, comics and graphic novels are forecasted to see rising interest, especially with many new publications on the horizon.

Among the most important is a new line of graphic novels called DC Compact Comics, showcasing DC stories across many genres, including science fiction, thrillers, horror, fantasy, adventure, and mystery. Undoubtedly a highly anticipated wellspring of comic inspiration, these “read anywhere” graphic novels will be released in June 2024.

Equally important in a male-dominant book market, the female-driven YA graphic novels are a powerful series showcasing strong, heroic young women as prominent characters with their own stories to tell. More than just a trend, these works highlight women as the creative talent and fan base behind graphic novels.

It’s become so much easier for creators to reach a wider audience with their visual stories. If you’re a graphic novelist, consider collaborating with other creators, pushing your boundaries into new genres, and diversifying your character creation. This is the year to push yourself!

Striving toward sustainability

Sustainability and eco-conscious book publishing trends are becoming increasingly urgent in the book industry. In the US alone, around 32 million trees are used to produce books each year. The book production process emits over 40 million metric tons of CO2 on a global scale. 

While audiobooks and ebooks are an obvious solution to this environmental problem, there are alternatives to becoming more sustainable and carbon neutral. By utilizing print-on-demand services and printing books only when needed, publishers and bookmakers can deliver books more cost-effectively while minimizing waste and using fewer resources. 

Likewise, you can help enable these trends by working with small indie publishing platforms, self-publishing with print-on-demand services, and prioritizing sustainability as one of your primary criteria when choosing a publisher. While major publishing houses like Penguin are making strides toward sustainability, their long-term goals are distant compared to what we creatives can do today to make positive change happen. 

Ascension of audiobooks

An undeniable behemoth in the book industry, audiobooks are expected to continue to grow in popularity and revenue in 2024. In the US, the audiobook market is expected to escalate at a rate of 20% to 25% per year over the next seven years, and the global audiobook market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 26.3% from 2023 to 2030. 

According to Words Rated, the audiobook share of the global publishing market will exceed 10% by 2027. By 2030, projections show that audiobooks will account for over 21.3% of the global book publishing revenue.

The audiobook market skews on the younger side, with 57% of audiobook listeners between 18 and 44 and the largest individual growth in audiobook listeners between 18 and 24 years old. The ascension of audiobooks is a call to action for you to consider diversifying your work into digital formats, which could mean reaching new audiences that wouldn’t otherwise pick up a printed copy. 

As the audiobook market continues to grow, you can explore platforms like Audible, Scribd, and Google Play Books to publish their audiobooks. Given that only 1% of audiobooks on Audible are self-published, collaborating with an audiobook publisher or a professional narrator could significantly increase your chances of success in this competitive market. 

Additionally, advancements in AI technology offer an accessible alternative for turning written content into audiobooks, though the human touch of a professional narrator often provides a more engaging listening experience. If you’re considering self-publishing, platforms like Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) can help connect with narrators and producers and distribute your audiobook across major platforms. 

While the audiobook landscape may require additional effort and investment on your part, the potential to reach a broader, tech-savvy audience makes it a worthwhile to try in 2024.

Direct-to-consumer sales

Driven by the surge in self-published book sales and more creators aiming to take ownership of their books’ profitability, direct-to-consumer (D2C) sales are gaining traction as a significant trend in the book industry. For emerging authors and creators, the emphasis has shifted towards establishing a direct rapport with their audience, circumventing the conventional distribution and marketing channels.

Engaging in D2C sales is not merely a transactional choice but a strategic investment in your brand. You are building trust with your audience and offering them more chances to interact directly with your branding. Thanks to modern publishing avenues, like print-on-demand, getting more economical and flexible, the process of selling books directly to your fans is actually simple.

By adopting a D2C model and using your own channels (like your website, social platforms, email list) to sell your work and communicate with fans, you can foster a closer connection with your audience, retain greater control over your work, and maximize your earnings potential. It’s an empowering and forward-thinking approach that is reshaping the future of publishing.

Short-form content

Short-form content is becoming more popular among readers, meaning book publishers and self-directed creators must find new ways to craft content for quick consumption. Short-form content is easily consumable, bite-sized pieces of information that an audience can quickly digest. 

Serialized content, short stories, zines, and flash fiction are some of the digestible content that meets this rising demand. This is particularly relevant in digital publishing, with shrinking attention spans and an over-abundance of content, making it an uphill battle to capture an audience’s attention. 

So what does that mean for you and your currently published books? It may be smart to translate your long-form work into digital short-form content like blog posts, PDF guides, videos, and reports. While this type of content won’t likely replace books, it will serve as a healthy supplement to make your work more well-known and wildly distributed. 

Person holding a magazine with a pen in their hand

Smarter book marketing

Beyond trending book genres and formats, the world of book marketing is increasingly dynamic and exploring new methods every year. The strategies and channels creators use to promote their books are constantly evolving. And in 2024, we can expect to see a few major trends that will work in your favor.

  • Authenticity: Authenticity is becoming more important in book marketing, with audiences responding positively to marketing messages and content that’s genuine and relatable over well-polished, high-quality productions.
  • Social media: Now more important and relevant than ever, social media continues to be a powerful tool for book marketing, with creators and publishers using platforms like TikTok and Instagram to connect with their audience and promote their books.
  • Connecting directly with fans: Powered by influencer marketing, social media, and trends like #BookTok, we can expect to see a continued effort in connecting directly with fans over traditional marketing strategies.
  • Virtual events: Virtual events have become more prevalent in recent years, with creators and publishers using platforms like Zoom and Facebook Live to host book launches, creator talks, and other events that ultimately support book sales.
  • Email marketing: Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to maintain lasting relationships with your audience. You can work to build your email lists to promote your books and connect more deeply with your audience.

Technology will continue to play a significant role in book marketing and how promotional content is produced and consumed. As we saw, the advent of artificial intelligence is changing how some creators market their work and manage relationships with a target audience.

Be a proponent of change with Blurb

Self-publishing platforms like Blurb have been instrumental in these trends and give creators the liberty to bring their books to life. With intuitive bookmaking tools, vast customizability, and print-on-demand capabilities, Blurb offers an economical solution to create bookstore-quality finished products. Learn more and start your project today.

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