George Chrysostomou explores the publishing trends to look out for in the year ahead, from the rise of AI to the ever-growing role of BookTok
2024 is set to be a massive year for the publishing industry, as it continues reshaping for a modern age. New audience interests and groundbreaking technology has challenged the traditions of the space. Shifting genres, alternative marketing methods and ever-changing styles are sure to lead to an alteration in publishing strategies, which will lead to noticeable differences that impact readers and their book choices.
The use of AI
Artificial intelligence appears to be the topic of discussion for the year, as writers and editors look at the benefits and drawbacks of this versatile and novel technology. Audiences are likely to come across more AI-influenced texts in 2024, with creators either crafting their narrative from scratch using artificial intelligence, or utilising it as a tool to reframe, refresh and reinvigorate their concepts and drafts.
"This will be a year where the limits of AI are explored further"
There’s certainly a place for AI to be used in controlled spaces and when the creative minds themselves are in control. There may be worries that the human element could be lost with the increase in the use of this tech, but ultimately this will be a year where those boundaries are tested and the limits of AI are explored further.
Influencers making an impact
Social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram and entertainment formats like podcasts have allowed influencers to connect with their audiences in more nuanced ways. Whether it’s an online personality, a YouTuber, a sports icon or perhaps even a comedian, these known names have a bigger platform than ever and that’s going to translate to the world of publishing. There’s likely to be an increase in biographies, guidebooks, cookbooks, comedy texts and coffee table books from recognisable personalities, designed to expand upon the worlds they’ve already created.
In recent years the likes of Joe Sugg’s Grow: How nature can restore balance in a busy world, or Rob Beckett and Josh Widdicombe’s Parenting Hell, have shown how established "stars" can enter publishing in innovative ways. Indeed, Mireille Harper, the editorial director working on lifestyle non-fiction at Bloomsbury, says, “In the non-fiction space, we're seeing how influencers are publishing their own books, and how this can lead to traditional publishing opportunities where they're successful.”
Kids’ books on the rise
The world has changed and consumers are keen to return to more traditional and simple pleasures, ditching technology in favour of a good book. Family life is also being prioritised as audiences reevaluate how they wish to spend their time. This combination of factors has led to a renewed focus on publishing in the children's books sector.
"There’s room for a juggernaut to take the world by storm"
The opportunity to craft wider TV shows, films, merchandise and animated offshoots has only increased publishers’ interests in finding the next great kids’ writer. 2024 will almost certainly see an increased release schedule for fantastical and hilarious texts aimed at younger readers. The best-sellers list is packed full of these books but there’s room for a juggernaut to take the world by storm.
Alternative publishing strategies
Online purchasing changed the game for the publishing industry. So too did the advent of digital books. Self-publishing has benefitted from these shifts and bookshops have unfortunately suffered. There’s been a recent uptick in consumers going back to in-person shopping, exploring unique and charming book shops across the country, but there’s still that digital space to expand upon.
2024 will see further alternative publishing strategies explored, with audiobooks, Webtoon style comics, and even social media platforms providing new avenues to receive quality stories through. Newsletter platforms like Substack and subscription models such as Patreon offer intriguing ways for writers to curate their audience and cut out the traditional routes to market entirely. Look out for new ways to access up-and-coming and established writers, because you might not necessarily find their latest work in your local bookshop.
Political books take centre stage
Politics is quite the buzz word as people become more enthralled and interested in the decisions taken in recent years and the world events that shaped them. With political thinkers moving further into publishing, digital media, podcasts and other communication platforms, it’s there are likely to be more books in 2024 about what went wrong, what went right and how we can make a better tomorrow.
"It's no surprise that there is an uptick in political books, fiction and non-fiction"
Jen Parker, founder of Fuzzy Flamingo, says, “With the impending general election in the UK plus the upcoming elections across the pond, it's no surprise to me that there is an uptick in political books, fiction and non-fiction.”
These critical texts will be coming from all sides of the political spectrum as the discourse grows louder and more crowded. With readers becoming increasingly interested in how they can influence the political landscape, publishers will leap at the opportunity to promote thoughtful or controversial philosophical, economic and societal writers.
Tracking the online audience
The publishing slate for 2024 and beyond will also be hugely influenced by online readers, who have built a digital community to share their interests and passions. From "BookTok" to "Bookstagram," social media platforms are being inundated by readers collectively influencing the success of a text.
Many of the bestsellers in the past year are books that had massive interest on these platforms. Publishers will be looking to create book covers, craft narratives and court writers who are sure to mobilise this specific section of their audience. Keep an eye on "BookTok" especially, which could become integral to choosing the next big hit.
Mireille Harper says, “I'm excited by BookTok: yes, there are negatives (as with all forms of media and different platforms), but what I'm really seeing is a space where young people are able to not only set the cultural zeitgeist, but are able to have discussions, voice their opinions freely, and bring light to books that the traditional media might have overlooked."
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