The Top 11 Self-Publishing Trends for 2024

self-publishing trends 2024

Top-11 Self-Publishing Trends for 2024

Trends in the publishing game can sneak up on you, often setting in before you’ve had the chance to take a breath. It’s a whirlwind out there, and every year, we put our ears to the ground, tapping into industry experts and crunching our numbers to forecast the winds of change for authors and the publishing landscape. Here’s what we’re seeing on the horizon for the forthcoming year – our carefully curated top eleven self-publishing trends for 2024 that you’ll want to keep on your radar.

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Without further ado, here are the top trends we foresee in self-publishing for 2024. Scroll down for the full story.

1. The Rise of Audiobook Popularity

2. AI and Machine Learning in Self-Publishing

3. Increased Use of Subscription Models

4. Dominance of E-book Sales Over Print

5. Enhanced E-book Features

6. Self-Publishing Platforms Beyond Amazon

7. Direct Sales Through Author Platforms

8. Niche Marketing Becomes Mainstream

9. The Rise in AI-Narrated Audiobooks

10. Authors Relying More on Newsletters than Social Media

11. Indie Authors Selling to a More Global Audience

1. The Rise of Audiobook Popularity

Audiobooks aren’t just riding the popularity wave anymore; they’re making tsunamis in the publishing world. It’s a sonic boom that’s music to the ears of authors and listeners alike. The surge in audiobook consumption? It’s more like a stampede, with folks soaking in stories while jogging, cooking, or during their daily commutes. The game is changing, and it’s all about ears now.

Authors are not only publishing more of their works as audiobooks, they are listening to them too. 

Post-apocalyptic fiction author Mark Lukens writes, “I’m very busy these days and wish I had more time to read. Audiobooks are so convenient for me to listen to when I’m on the go. I find that I’ve listened to more books this year than I’ve read.”

But here’s where it gets even juicier for us self-pub pros: the platforms. We’ve got fresh players entering the audiobook arena, and they’re diving in headfirst. Spotify’s recent move to snap up Findaway Voices? Oh, it’s a game-changer. Think about it. Spotify, the titan of tunes, is now strutting onto Audible’s turf, ready to dance.

What does that mean for you and me? We’re looking at a future where our words aren’t just whispered between the pages—they’re streaming into earbuds, cars, and living rooms across the globe. Spotify is about to crank the volume on audiobook self-publishing, and I’m here with my finger on the play button, ready to see how this track plays out. Keep your eyes peeled—or should I say, your headphones ready?

2. AI and Machine Learning in Self-Publishing

Strap in, authors, because the AI revolution in self-publishing isn’t knocking on the door—it’s already let itself in. We’re seeing artificial intelligence not just as a tool, but as a collaborator in the storytelling process. Think of AI as a kind of creative sidekick; it’s tossing ideas for plots and characters into the ring, and some of them aren’t half bad.

“In just a few short months, I’ve integrated ChatGPT into almost every facet of my writing,” says thriller and horror author J Thorn. “Yet, this AI hasn’t replaced me—it’s become an essential part of my creative process. You see, ChatGPT generates text from my ideas, ideas that are inherently human and irreplaceable.”

The grand entrance of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in late-November 2022 set the publishing world abuzz like nothing else. It’s the spark that lit a fire under industry pros, with everyone’s eyes wide, looking to a horizon that’s shifting in exciting new ways. This is the beacon that’s heralding a sea change for the world of words. Or a war over words.

Craig Martelle sounds an important warning. He writes, “We’re going to see an influx of more books simply because the indie movement continues to grow with more and more new authors taking a chance at self-publishing. Elsewhere, the shortcuts of AI-assisted work will help established authors improve apparent productivity. My prediction is that you’ll see higher quality works rising to the top, higher quality that is not AI assisted. A lesson I learned in 2019 when I published thirty new books in thirty weeks was that quantity does not trump quality. The books were good but not great. Great books will always find a market and be able to exploit that market. Intentionality and being more deliberate with launches will put those great books in the right readers’ hands.”

Dan Padavona agrees, saying, “I foresee a surge in newly published book during 2024, thanks to AI. We’ll hear about authors making a killing with minimal effort by publishing dozens of books in a relatively short period of time. Those stories will represent the outliers, the lucky equivalents of lottery winners. As 2024 wraps up, the surge will die. Most authors following this unfortunate path will fail and give up because readers will see through their poor quality. This will open the door for true creatives who use AI as an assistant. As always, the best authors will excel.”

Here’s the big debate: AI versus human creativity. Is it a partnership or a rivalry? Can a machine conjure up the emotional depth of a seasoned novelist? The jury’s still out, but one thing’s for sure—AI’s got a seat at the writing table.

“The possibilities for AI are endless and could change our lives in ways we can’t even imagine yet,” says Mark Lukens.

Now, beyond the brainstorming brouhaha, AI is rolling up its sleeves in editing bays and formatting fiestas, making those tasks less of a chore and more of a breeze. It’s like having a nitpicky grammar guru and a meticulous formatter in your back pocket. And personalized marketing? AI’s got that in the bag. Tailoring book recommendations to readers like a bespoke suit, it’s getting uncannily good at nudging them towards our pages.

The publishing sphere is on the cusp of something hefty with AI as we roll into 2024, but let’s not kid ourselves – it’s packing a suitcase full of ethical conundrums.

AI whizzes are gobbling up the internet and stacks of published materials, feasting on this smorgasbord of info to spit out something new. In essence, these tools are kind of like the collective brainchild of human intellect.

“With AI in our arsenal,” continues Thorn, “the daunting task of transforming ideas into words becomes less overwhelming. Faced with a blank page, instead of letting Resistance creep in, we prompt our AI writing assistant to generate text based on our thoughts. The laborious task of word-by-word construction becomes a collaborative effort. We’re no longer alone in the battle. AI can fill the page with words, giving us a starting point—a lump of clay to shape into our masterpiece.”

But here’s the million-dollar question – who gets to stamp their name on AI’s brainwaves? Who ought to claim the fruits of these digital labors? These are the legal and ethical head-scratchers poised to give the publishing world, and heaps of other sectors, a real run for their money in 2024. And you’d better believe it, our industry mavens are nodding in agreement.

But hold onto your hats, because machine learning is also turning into quite the fortune teller, predicting consumer preferences and sales trajectories with a crystal ball’s clarity. It’s sifting through the data tea leaves to tell us what readers might want before they want it—spooky, right? But for us self-publishers, it’s a gold mine of insight. We’re talking about a future where we can almost read our readers’ minds. So, let’s harness this AI wave—it might just be the smartest move we make.

Related Reading: The Creative AI Digest

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3. The Wave of Subscription Models

Let’s surf the subscription model wave that’s rolling in. Picture this: a buffet of books where readers can feast to their heart’s content for a flat fee. That’s the subscription service scene for you, and it’s not a passing fad. It’s becoming the Netflix of the book world.

Now, for us in the author’s chair, this can be a sweet deal. These models can mean a steadier stream of royalties and a whole new ocean of readers diving into our work. It’s about visibility, consistency, and the long game. We’re talking about everything from the big fish like Kindle Unlimited to the sprightly minnows like Kobo making ripples in the pond.

The numbers are in, and profits from subscription models are growing.

“Using data from BookReport, I estimate that I had 3.5 borrows for every sale over the last 24 months,” says Amazon thriller author Dan Padavona. “I generated almost $900,000 in revenue during that time frame, and over 60% of the money came from Kindle Unlimited alone. That shows the incredible growth of the KU subscription model.”

But let’s hash out the spicy debate: Do these all-you-can-read deals put our hard work on the bargain shelf? Some authors worry that Kindle Unlimited and its kin place a discount sticker on our labors. Sure, the payout per read might not have you popping champagne corks, but think big picture. It’s about reaching readers who might turn into super-fans ready to snap up your next release the second it hits the shelves.

So, let’s weigh it up. Subscription services are reshaping the book market’s landscape—no doubt about it. The question is, how will we ride this wave? Will we paddle out and catch the swell, potentially discovering a wider audience and a more predictable income stream? Or do we watch from the shore? Whatever your take, one thing is clear: The subscription tide is coming in, and it’s high time to decide whether you’re getting wet.

4. Dominance of E-book Sales Over Print

The e-book train is full steam ahead. Gone are the days when the rustle of pages was the prelude to adventure. Now, it’s the gentle tap on a screen. The latest scuttlebutt? E-books are outpacing print, and it’s not looking like a photo finish.

These numbers will make your head spin. The latest stats are in, and they’re telling a story all their own. Reports are showing that e-books are accounting for a staggering percentage of book sales, and this isn’t just industry chatter. E-reader users are expected to hit 1.2 billion by 2027. (You’ll want to hit up the latest from Publishers Weekly or the Digital Book World for the nitty-gritty.)

“I self-published my first novel in eBook format on Amazon in 2016, enrolling my book in their Kindle Unlimited program,” says JR Rice, author of the Bane County series. “Since then, I’ve added roughly one novel per year to my offering, all as eBooks on KU. I’ve seen more than 12-million pages read through Kindle Unlimited to date, which represents more than 65% of my earned royalties. I’ve queried several other authors in the horror/thriller genre, and the general consensus is that print books represent such a small percentage of royalties as to make them somewhat pointless. This has been my experience as well. In my opinion, Amazon and Kindle Unlimited offer the best path for little-known, self-published authors like myself.”

“I love having my books available in print, but the vast majority (at least 90%) of my yearly income comes from eBooks,” says Mark Lukens.

Amazon thriller and suspense author Dan Padavona sees a similar trend. “So far this year, paperbacks account for only 2.5% of my sales. That’s well down from last year, which continued a steady downward trend dating back to 2014. It’s amazing to realize 97.5% of my book orders came from e-book downloads and Kindle Unlimited borrows.”

What’s fueling this e-book bonanza? For starters, there’s the convenience factor. Readers can carry a whole library in their pockets, for crying out loud. And then there’s the instant gratification – a click and voilà, the book is yours. No more wrestling with shipping times or sold-out signs.

But wait, there’s more. It’s not just about saving shelf space; it’s also about saving trees. The green brigade’s making its voice heard, and it’s resonating with readers. E-books are the poster child for environmentally friendly reading, and that’s a badge they wear with honor.

In the grand scheme of things, e-books are the sleek sports car to print’s charming old-timer—it’s not that one’s better than the other, but one’s definitely picking up speed. And with smartphones in hand and a growing consciousness about our planet, e-books are lapping the competition.

If you aren’t publishing to digital formats, you’re missing the train.

5. Enhanced E-book Features

Now, let’s turn the page to something that’s jazzing up the e-book scene: the bells and whistles of the digital age. We’re not just flipping virtual pages anymore; we’re diving into a world where e-books come alive with the kind of razzle-dazzle that makes the old paperbacks look, well, flat.

E-books are getting the tech glow-up with interactive elements that have readers engaging with your stories. Imagine animated covers that look more like a motion picture than a book. Picture maps that unfold as the protagonist journeys through unknown lands, or soundtracks that set the mood as you delve deeper into the narrative.

And the puppet master behind the curtain? AI, of course. It’s the wizard spinning the interactive web, making e-books dynamic, responsive, and personalized. It’s like having a book that reads you while you read it, adapting and evolving to give you a bespoke reading experience.

We’re looking at a future where e-books could offer alternate plotlines at a reader’s whim, analyze your reading habits to suggest the next adventure, or even modulate the narrative based on your emotional response. Wild, right?

So, as the e-book tech advances, reading could include experiencing, interacting, and immersing. The humble e-book is stepping up, and it’s bringing an arsenal of tricks that could make the most gadget-savvy readers do a double-take.

6. Self-Publishing Platforms Beyond Amazon

Let’s spill the ink on a truth that’s becoming clearer by the day: Amazon is not the only game in town for self-publishers.

Sure, they’re the big kahuna, but there’s a whole world out there ripe for the taking. New platforms are sprouting up, each with its own flavor and flair.

Kobo is the fastest growing e-reader platform in existence. We’ve got the likes of Draft2Digital and Smashwords, platforms that give you a one-way ticket to a range of digital bookstores. Then there’s Lulu, strutting its stuff with a robust retail network. And let’s not forget Apple Books, with its sleek bookstore and rabid fan base, or Google Play Books, which puts your words in the pocket of Android users worldwide. And yes, Barnes & Noble and its Nook are still alive and kicking.

These platforms are gateways to audiences that Amazon might not reach. They’re your ticket to a diversification that can mean the difference between putting all your eggs in one basket and spreading your literary seeds far and wide.

Why put your book on a single shelf when you can stock it in stores across the globe? By tapping into multiple platforms, you’re making sure you’re seen. It’s about being in the right place at the right time, and in the digital book world, that means being everywhere at once.

7. Direct Sales Through Author Platforms

The digital storefront is no longer just for the e-commerce giants. Authors are now the shopkeepers of their own digital domains. The trend of selling books directly from our websites is picking up steam, and why not? It’s our work, our sweat and tears. Shouldn’t we call the shots?

Imagine the freedom: no middleman, no confusing royalty statements. Just you, your books, and the readers who can’t wait to get their hands on them. And the cherry on top? Every penny goes straight into your pocket. That’s the kind of control that makes going the extra mile of setting up a great shop worth it.

“The trend toward direct author sales is inevitable,” argues Padavona. “Amazon remains the 800-pound gorilla in the room, but there’s tremendous risk in putting all of one’s eggs in a single basket. Which I admit I do for now. In the future? I see a robust selling platform on my own website. My books will still be on Amazon, but exclusivity’s days are numbered.”

But it’s more than just control—it’s about profit. Without the need to slice the pie with retailers, you’re looking at a fuller, fatter cut for yourself. Don’t overlook the data. When you sell from your site, you know exactly who’s buying your books. This isn’t just customers; these are future fans, the kind you can reach out to directly when your next masterpiece hits the shelves.

“Consider the possibilities,” Padavona says. “I can price my book for $0.99 and keep 100% of the profit, offer it for free during a promotion, or increase my prices above $9.99 without Amazon cutting my commission in half. What’s more, I can retain records of who purchased my book and market directly to those readers.”

So, if you haven’t yet turned your author website into a buzzing marketplace, it might be time to roll up your sleeves and get digital. 

8. Niche Marketing Becomes Mainstream

Here’s the skinny: casting a wide net is out, and zeroing in on your niche is in. Gone are the days of vague, one-size-fits-all marketing. We’re in the era of niche marketing.

Niche marketing is like an arrow shot straight into the heart of your target audience. It’s about finding those readers who geek out over the same things you do, whether that’s paranormal romances with a culinary twist or hard-boiled detective stories set in space. And when you find them, it’s magic.

But just because a niche book is available on multiple platforms does not mean it is superior to its competition. In fact, easy access to crowdfunding tools is contributing to a surge in books for sale. And that might not be a good thing.

” . . . With the surge of crowd-funded books, I think we’ll see more discriminating buying behaviors among the reading audience at large,” says Craig Martetlle. “They’ll continue to fill their Kindles, Kobo readers, and Apple devices with ebooks rather than go with custom and higher-priced versions sold via crowdfunding. Readers will search harder for great stories to be had at a good price (not free or cheap, but reasonable).”

What does this mean in practice? In advertising, it means less reliance on broad targeting like Meta (Facebook and Instagram) and more on granular targeting options such as those offered by Bookbub Ads and Amazon Ads.

Niche marketing is essential. It’s about connecting with readers on a level that goes beyond the page, tapping into communities and conversations. If you’ve been playing the marketing equivalent of shouting into a void, maybe it’s time to start whispering sweet nothings into the right ears.

9. The Rise in AI-Narrated Audiobooks

Let’s tune into the latest controversy from the audiobook world. The buzz is all about AI narration. It’s not an emerging trend, but a full-blown revolution with a voice that’s, quite literally, engineered to perfection. AI’s taking the mic, and it’s offering up platters of perks that are too tempting to ignore.

First off, AI narrators are the thrift shop of audiobook production: high quality at low cost. They’re slicing production times. 

And the price tag? It’s the kind that will have self-published authors doing a double-take. We’re talking about the kind of cost-effectiveness that can turn the audiobook game from a ‘nice-to-have’ to a ‘must-have’ part of your publishing plan.

But here’s the rub—can a digital voice stir the soul like the human lilt? Not likely,

Will the warmth of a narrator’s emotion get lost in translation? It’s the hot potato being tossed around the industry, with some folks arguing that AI is to emotion what a microwave is to gourmet cooking. And it doesn’t stop there. Behind the scenes, there’s a real worry about the human cost—what happens to our favorite narrators when the robots step in?

But AI will affect far more than audiobook narration.

“With AI, the world of music creation has been thrown wide open,” says J Thorn. “Now, anyone with a laptop and the right software can compose a symphony, create a catchy pop tune, or produce an epic film score. AI-powered platforms like Amper Music and AIVA are providing the tools to make music production accessible to all. A kid in her bedroom in Akron, Ohio, now has the same creative power as a music producer in a glitzy Hollywood studio.”

It’s a controversy that’s sparking debates. Can AI truly match the human touch? Is the convenience worth the trade-off? And is it fair to sideline the human talent?

These are the questions buzzing in our ears, and as the tech marches on, we’ll be keeping a keen eye—or ear—on how this story unfolds.

10. Authors Relying More on Newsletters than Social Media

The social media landscape is like weather in the tropics—unpredictable and often stormy. That’s why savvy authors are turning the page and writing a new chapter with newsletters. This is a strategic pivot, a move towards a channel where the conversation with readers isn’t a shout into the void, but a genuine heart-to-heart at the kitchen table.

Social media is a gamble, and the house—that pesky algorithm—always wins. Your post about your latest book? It’s playing hide-and-seek with your followers. But newsletters? They cut through the noise. They land in inboxes with a ping, ready to be opened, savored, and clicked through—no algorithmic sorcery needed.

Social media might give you likes and shares, but newsletters? They give you engagement that translates into sales, into loyal readers who are there for the long haul. It’s the kind of direct connection that turns casual readers into superfans, the ones who’ll follow you from the first page of your debut to the last page of your magnum opus.

Dan Padavona agrees. “Over the last year, I used Amazon Attribution and affiliate codes to track the effectiveness of social media posts and newsletter blasts. The result? I sold 44 times more books last year with newsletters than social media posts. The wild part is I sent about 52 newsletters (one per week), while I posted well over a thousand times.”

Authors are tired of being at the mercy of social media’s ever-shifting sands. It’s about taking back control, owning your message, and your relationship with your readers. It’s about building a community on your terms, with newsletters that reflect your voice, your brand, and your story.

“It’s not that social media doesn’t have value,” Padavona continues. “It does. But Facebook is particularly aggressive about hiding posts from my author page. I don’t blame them for doing so. Most people hop online to connect with friends, not read about my latest books. But Facebook makes the time I spend on their platform less valuable every day, and I left X/Twitter months ago and never intend to return.”

If you’re ready to be the captain of your own ship, it might be time to set sail with newsletters as your north star.

11. Indie Authors Selling to a More Global Audience

The writing is on the wall, and it’s in multiple languages. Indie authors are no longer local artisans; we’re global merchants. Readers outside the US and UK are ripe for the picking, and authors are waking up to the sunrise of international markets. Why settle for the familiar frontiers of the US and UK when you can sell your stories across borders?

This is about strategic moves and crafting a global game plan. We’re eyeing up the map, pinpointing places where our stories are fresh and competition is thin.

Think about it. Markets like India, Brazil, and Germany. They’re untapped veins of gold. And here’s the kicker: marketing in these locales doesn’t demand an arm and a leg. Be prepared for cheaper ads, less bidding war madness, and more bang for your buck.

How do you make your mark? Tailor those keywords, tweak that metadata, and translate those blurbs. Get cozy with local trends, befriend regional bloggers, and maybe even sprinkle a little cultural magic into your covers. The goal? To turn your book into the globe-trotting adventurer that racks up fans from every corner of the planet.

The world’s a stage, and indie authors are ready to claim it. Let’s paint our stories across the global canvas and watch as the royalties roll in, not just in dollars and pounds, but in euros, yen, and rupees, too. It’s a big world out there, and it’s waiting for your book.


And there you have it—the crystal ball’s insights on the top 11 self-publishing trends for 2024. We’re talking about AI’s headline-grabbing antics and the debates hot on its digital heels, to the brave new worlds of book formats and untapped global markets. It’s a veritable feast for authors and publishers alike.

Now, I’m tossing the ball into your court. What ripples do you see stirring in the literary waters of 2024? Which of these trends are sending thrills down your spine or chills through your keyboard?

Pass this article to your author pals, hit up your social connections, and let’s get the banter going.

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