It wasn't the best of times, nor was it the worst of times. The good news is 2017 saw an improvement of 15% in book sales. What's really interesting about that is we only released 47 new books in 2017 - exactly equal to our 2016 output. So why the sales increase?
1) The economy improved! As much as some of us don't like the new leadership in the country, the economy has picked up steam. This is evident in all of my experiences in and out of publishing and as an Economics professor.
2) We changed our mix to release more nonfiction. We have had better and steadier performance from our new releases.
3) We improved our social media engagement. The steady pulse of social media has definitely resulted in increased sales of our back list books.
4) We had some breakthroughs with major media thanks to several of our authors.
So, what can improve? Sales are still below our best year of 2015. Most companies do not grow in a steady linear upward fashion. There is give and take and ups and downs. It really is more like a boat ride on rough seas than a skate across a frozen pond. 2015 was so good because we had a number of large hardcover publishing deals that were very successful. This has yet to repeat, and may never. The lesson learned is we need to keep adjusting to our readers and the marketplace.
Here are the top things we can do to improve to try to hit or exceed the 2015 number in 2018:
1) Sell more of the books we offer -- especially fiction!
2) Continue to leverage new services like NetGalley, our Entertainment Agent site partner, and other opportunities to increase exposure.
3) Better coordinate our marketing campaigns. We will be attempting to coordinate our social media activity and ebook promotions -- especially for fiction.
4) Continue to sign new authors with fresh material.
5) Continue to sign veteran authors with great backlists.
6) Continue to grow our new imprint brands.