I’ve seen posts and articles about this as well as bringing it up myself. Now that there are only 2 months left of 2016, I feel like opening the floor. Then again, most people might not even be aware of what’s going on. Either you haven’t been effected or haven’t noticed in general. Let me try to explain a bit, which is coming from my own perspective.
For some reason, 2016 has been abysmal in terms of book sales and reading. It’s really hard to put into words. The big names like Martin and Rowling aren’t having any trouble, but that’s easy to figure out because they’re established. They also have non-book media that helps them. I’m talking more about the indie authors that are plugging along and trying to figure out how to stay afloat. I’ve done whatever I could for promotions against a tide of distractions and personal events. Yet, I can’t get a spark and I’ve talked to other authors who are finding the same problems.
Free sales seem to help as well as giveaways, but those can only be done so often. I’ve been told people aren’t interested in series, which could explain my problems. Yet, I also hear that full-length novels are being ignored as well. Perhaps people simply didn’t have as much time as they did in previous years. Life went nuts for everyone and it was more about making it to 2017 instead of relaxing.
The flood of negativity, hate, and divisiveness caused by politics definitely didn’t help. This added a weird dimension as I saw authors try to promote their books by utilizing the election. ‘Stick it to Trump by buying this unassociated zombie book’. ‘Stick it to Clinton by buying this butterfly-themed cookbook’. ‘Screw the election and buy this book about a footstool that dreams of being a ladder’. I’ll admit I tried a little of this with Crossing Bedlam since the story had a slight connection to politics. Now, I’m saying this because it does feel like the election may have caused a lot of people to ignore ‘escapism’ stuff out of fear of missing reality. That or the whole circus was so surreal that no amount of fiction could compare. Either way, I do think the emotions brought out by the election had an effect on people’s interest in fiction. Anger, fear, hate, and sadness don’t really drive people to the fun stuff unless they are consciously trying to eliminate those emotions. I don’t know of a lot of people who were doing that.
My honest opinion is that a lot of factors have created a slump year for many authors. I do think the negativity created by the election and other world events caused people to spend more time with the news than fiction. I also think there are fewer marketing options unless you have a lot of money. The cheaper or free ones have become crowded or turn into part of the background. Every few weeks, I went searching for new sites that I could sign up with for marketing or get an interview. I found very little and many of the old ones are gone. Yes, there are individual reasons for each author like me pushing a series that is very long or others who have become too busy to promote their work. It’s almost like an epidemic of slump as I watched the year unfold.
I might be alone in thinking that this year is the worst ever. Honestly, I’ve only been at this for 3 years, but the drop in sales, social media hits, and everything was so abrupt that it was like a switch was flipped in mid-January. I hope 2017 is better and that I can keep doing this, but this year was horrible. Let me know what your experiences on 2016 is and if you think anything changed.