How Should Authors Promote Their Books in 2022

In our new “State of the Industry” blog series, we’re breaking down how the pandemic has transformed the publishing industry. By understanding how the industry has rapidly transformed in 2020 and 2021, writers and authors will be better prepared to navigate the new state of the industry in 2022.

Last month, we explored how the pandemic changed the way people buy books.

Now it’s time for the final question: How should authors be promoting their books in 2022? What does author promotion in 2022 look like?

Answer: Here are some savvy promotional steps you can take to take your promote your book and author brand in 2022:

1). Pay closer attention than ever to the news: locally, nationally, and internationally.

Regardless of where you get your news or what you think of the media, it has never been more important to be as informed as possible on current events. The events of 2020, and how they were reported–particularly pandemic news, the Black Lives Matter movement, and political / election events–heavily influenced both the type of books that publishers acquired, book sales, and the types of books publishers and booksellers will invest in in the future. Stay ahead of the curve, don’t race to catch up.

2). Let’s talk about what genre trends we’ll see.

Genre trends that will continue:

  • Children’s education, as people continue to homeschool, or make decisions about homeschooling
  • Race/diversity/antiracism: Nonfiction on antiracism will continue to sell well, if not AS strongly as in 2020. Fiction in all genres with themes of race, antiracism, diverse characters, representation, and justice will continue to grow.
  • Commercial YA: This genre juggernaut is only going to keep getting bigger.

Genre trends that will emerge (predictions):

  • How-to books on rethinking life and work post-pandemic: All over the world, people are rethinking their lives now that they have been severed from a sense of “normalcy.” The market is ripe for nonfiction that directly addresses how to create fulfilling, purposeful, previously-inconceivable ways of living in a mid-/post-pandemic world.
  • Domestic how-tos on working from home: A work-from-home model is here to stay for many industries, and work life balancing is changing and will continue to change as a result.
  • “Pandemic fiction” (or allegories for pandemic): Once pandemic-weariness has become a more distant memories, in a few years we predict we’ll see a spike in pandemic fiction, which can include everything from romance novels about love blossoming between partners in isolation/quarantine to dramas and thrillers with isolationist themes.
  • Factional/political/polarization/radicalization dystopia: The world is still too tired and burnt out from living in an actual dystopia, so dystopian lit won’t make a huge resurgence straight away–but the social polarization that has occured won’t go unnoticed by publishers (or savvy authors).
  • Sweet, fluffy, escapist, ANTIi-dystopian lit: Get ready for a FLUX of feel good escapist fiction. We’re all tired of talking about how terrible life is–so let’s not.
  • Horror (especially YA horror): Good, intelligent horror is going through a renaissance in film and TV, and the literary world will have some catching up to do to meet demand

3). Seek to connect with readers as directly as possible. One way to do this is through targeted ads and outreach to boost your online exposure.

Online book sales are still dominating the market; remember that this means that most visible titles (celebrity names / endorsements, great SEO, big ad spend) will get seen. Think strategically about making your book stand out online

4). Get on TikTok if you’re a YA or romance author.

TikTok is one of the most powerful sales tools YA and romance authors can use. Other genres–but not all–may also find an audience on TikTok, but keep in mind that their primary book-buying base leans heavily towards romance and young adult fiction. (True crime, real-life mysteries, historial dress, how-tos, “lifehacks” and supernatural content can also find audiences on TikTok). Spend time on TikTok and become familiar with the app before using it to promote your author brand. Do not use it just to sell your books–commit to creating consistent, engaging, creative, and (most of all) authentic content that will help readers connect with you–a person, not a sales pitch.

5). Consider releasing audio media if you haven’t already done so.

Audio is booming. If you haven’t released an audiobook yet (available on Amazon/Audible, etc), do it. It’s also a great time to explore audio-only literature.

6). Be a visible champion to bookstores.

Supporting local bookstores was important before, and it’s super important now. Boost local stores on social media. Raise money and awareness for indie stores. Talk to your local store about their needs and how you can be a good partner to them. Not only will you be improving your community, any benefit you provide to local booksellers will be received with gratitude and goodwill, and could lead to future opportunities.

7). Understand that publishers and booksellers are examining how to reinvent the wheel right now. You can be a part of that reinvention.

Traditional publishing and book marketing methods aren’t working like they used to. There’s never been a better time for creative solutions, fresh approaches to writing and marketing, and experimentation. We’ll end this blog series on a New York Times quote from April 2021, which still holds true today:

“As fear for their industry turned to a stunned optimism last year, publishers started to rethink almost everything they had once taken for granted, from how to cultivate new literary talent to the ways that they market and sell books. Live literary events like book signings and author appearances have been replaced, as with so many things, by Zoom. BookExpo, the largest gathering of publishing professionals in the United States, which typically took place in May and drew thousands of booksellers, publishers, editors, agents, authors and librarians to the Javits Center in New York, has been canceled. The convention center is now being used as a mass vaccination site.

‘One of the most significant things that’s going to change is the re-evaluation of all that we do and how we do it,’ said Don Weisberg, the chief executive of Macmillan.”

State of the Industry Blog Series: How the Pandemic Changed the Way People Buy Books

In our new “State of the Industry” blog series, we’re breaking down how the pandemic has transformed the publishing industry. By understanding how the industry has rapidly transformed in 2020 and 2021, writers and authors will be better prepared to navigate the new state of the industry in 2022.

Last month, we explored how the Black Lives Matter movement affected indie bookstores, and how indie booksellers are doing in 2022.

Now it’s time for a new question: How did the pandemic transform how readers buy books and engage with authors?

Answer: There are four major areas of impact, which we’ll break down below, including: the “re-emergence” of the backlist, which genres dominated the bestseller list, the continued rise of audiobooks, and the power of TikTok.

1. More readers than ever are buying books online.

When physical bookstores shut their doors, booksellers had to become commercial e-tailers almost overnight – something many of them were not equipped to handle. With shoppers unable to browse in-store, and book tours and festivals canceled, a book’s discoverability became limited by search terms and to titles readers have already heard of. Despite massive leaps for online retail from indie bookstores, major corporations like Amazon, Target, and Walmart continued to dominate book sales.

The consequence of this is that titles with celebrity names and big budgets, as well as recognizable and/or timely backlist titles, were getting the most attention. As a result, new, small, and debut titles struggled harder to find their audience.

What you need to know in 2022: While things have balanced out, prepare to see publishers promoting their backlists like never before, as they’ve realized that backlist titles are indeed commercially viable long after their pub date. This is good news for all authors in the long run. But it may mean that new titles continue to struggle for attention as older titles are pushed back into an already-saturated market.

2. The events of 2020-21 ignited a firestorm of interest in specific genres.

Books exploring race, antiracism, diversity, and justice dominated the bestseller charts. Political books were hot sellers. Thanks to the pandemic push for homeschooling, children’s nonfiction, reference, and language saw a surge, as did domestic books on cooking and gardening.

Perhaps the most visible change, at least when it comes to YA fiction, is the impact of TikTok on the book industry, in part because YA fiction was already becoming more diverse and incorporating themes of justice, antiracism, and inclusion that were even more popularized during 2020-21.

What you need to know in 2022: Readers are more socially and politically aware, motivated, and ”charged” than ever before. We will continue to see these genres dominate nonfiction for the time being, and influence forthcoming fiction. Savvy authors will stay on top of – and ideally, ahead of – the curve by writing books that leverage these dominant themes and genres in 2022.

3. Audiobooks are booming.

In 2020, publishers in the United States released a record number of audio titles — more than 71,000 titles, an increase of nearly 40% over 2019. Publishers’ revenues from audio rose 12% to $1.3 billion over the same period, the ninth straight year of double-digit growth, according to the Association of American Publishers. In 2021, revenue from downloaded audiobooks grew more than 18% from January to May.

A 2021 New York Times article quotes Lance Fitzgerald, vice president of content and business development at Penguin Random House Audio, as saying “Audio listeners are so voracious, they listen to so much, we have to keep supplying content for them.”

The article goes on to explore how mega-bestselling author Erik Larson is experimenting with a stand-alone audiobook, and publishers are exploring/expanding stand-alone audiobooks and other audiobook production.

What you need to know in 2022: There’s never been a better time to produce and market an audiobook. We will continue to see audio expansion, and ever-creative ways of producing, distributing, and marketing audio literature.

TikTok is changing the way readers (especially YA readers) discover books and connect with authors.

TikTok is one of the fastest growing social media platforms, and YA and romance fiction feature heavily within the app’s reading community (colloquially named “BookTok”). In January 2018 the app had 55 million global users, which ballooned to 271 million by December 2018. A year later they were at 507 million, and they hit 700 million monthly active users in August 2020. By September 2021, the company reported that their user base had hit 1 billion.

During the pandemic, more readers than ever took to TikTok to gush about, critique, and (yes) cry over their favorite reads – creating a demand that landed certain books back on the bestseller list in ways that surprised even the savviest of publishers and authors.

Now we’re seeing “Booktok” endcaps and signage at bookstores, and celebratory “smash hit on Booktok” taglines on covers – that’s how powerful the app’s influence became.

What you need to know in 2022: Authors who are active on TikTo – or who get their books heavily promoted on TikTok by “booktokers” — will find an enthusiastic audience of extremely motivated book buyers. Authors who join TikTok will have a great opportunity to promote their work creatively and connect with fans directly

How else should authors be promoting their books in 2022? Join us next month when we wrap up our State of the Industry blog series with a comprehensive plan for how authors should be promoting their books this year.

How the Black Lives Matter Movement and the Pandemic Transformed Bookselling

State of the Industry Blog Series:
How the Black Lives Matter Movement and the Pandemic Transformed Bookselling

In our new “State of the Industry” blog series, we’re breaking down how the pandemic has transformed the publishing industry. By understanding how the industry has rapidly transformed in 2020 and 2021, writers and authors will be better prepared to navigate the new state of the industry in 2022.

Last month, we explored how the pandemic impacted indie bookstores, and whether or not “saved” indies.

Now it’s time for a new question: How did the Black Lives Matter movement impact indie bookstores? And how are indies doing today?

Answer: BLM boosted indie bookstore sales in a surprising way. Bookstores fared better than expected during the pandemic, but they are still struggling.

The murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 sparked outrage against racially motivated police violence, spawning mass protests and a highly visible reckoning with racism that swept America, and the globe. The “Black Lives Matter” movement (also known as “BLM”) inspired active discussion about race, racism, anti-racism, white privilege, and allyship that reverberated from the streets to The White House to the world — and was felt clearly among publishers and booksellers.

In June 2020, The New York Times reported that “As Americans grapple with the country’s history of racism, many of them have turned to books, propelling titles like “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi and “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo to the best-seller lists.”

The article also reported that some bookstores, especially Black-owned stores like Semicolon Bookstore in Chicago, saw a “huge financial boost,” with sales rising from 3,000 books per week to 50,000 books per week. Store owner Danni Mullen estimated that at least half of her store’s income resulted from “the 10 or so race-related books dominating best-seller lists.”

By May of 2021, the general consensus was that indie bookstores had not suffered as much as had originally been projected at the beginning of the pandemic.

Booksellers experienced a surprisingly strong holiday season in December 2020 that, coupled with other unexpected boosts like the sales resulting from the BLM movement, helped keep many stores open at the start of 2021. Booksellers reported a huge boost in online sales in 2020 and 2021, compared to previous years. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans enabled some store owners to meet their payrolls. directed more than $14 million to indies in revenue as of May 2021.

There was also arguably more awareness of and support for “supporting local” businesses like indie bookstores than ever, due to the economic pressures of the pandemic.

However, indie stores were (and are) still struggling. Bookstore sales fell 30 percent overall in 2020 according to the US Census Bureau. While BLM gave a huge financial boost to some stores, those bestselling titles did not dominate sales in the same way as time went on.

Stores were operating on the same limited budgets, but were combatting higher costs that were unimaginable two years ago: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), hazard pay, postage, extra cleaning and sanitizing products, etc. Bookstore staff had to work hard to ship books and reorganize/sanitize stores. With reduced income and population capacity in-store, these challenges demanded more of the remaining staff.

As of October 2020, in-store foot traffic was still way down, and it was hurting revenue. Some stores (especially those in NYC) were hit hard by the fact that a substantial portion of their customer base were tourists, who were no longer visiting in the same capacity.

As of May 2021, profits were still down for indie stores, according to the Associated Press. In-store events had not returned to pre-pandemic levels. And despite the influence of, Amazon still commands a hefty share of the book market.

Without a doubt, the pandemic transformed bookselling in a variety of ways: Booksellers, authors, and customers got a crash course in how to approach sales and events virtually; proved to be a noteworthy competitor for Amazon; and the Black Lives Matter movement helped open publishers’ eyes to the sales potential of their backlists.

While some bookstores will return to some semblance of pre-pandandemic “business as usual,” the events of 2020 and 2021 have certainly changed how booksellers, authors, and readers understand and approach bookselling as a whole.

And it’s not just the publishers and booksellers who have changed — readers themselves, and their reading habits, have transformed as well.

We’ll explore this in more detail in our next blog: How the Pandemic Transformed Readers and Consumer Habits.

Celebrate Black Love with authors J. Elle, Nicola Yoon, Elise Bryant, Alechia Dow and Kalynn Bayron

This Black History Month, celebrate Black Love with powerhouse authors J. Elle, Nicola Yoon, Elise Bryant, Kalynn Bayron, and Alechia Dow in an event hosted by independent booksellers nationwide. (Love your local indie and support them!)

Black heroines shouldn’t exist solely on the pages of stories to fight racism. These bestselling and award-winning authors will discuss what Black Love means to them, why love is so transformative, and why it is important to center love in their stories.

Wednesday, February 2 at 8PM EST / 7PM CST / 6PM MST / 5PM PST

Select attendees will win an exclusive #BlackLove sticker! Enter to receive one here.


J.Elle, NAACP Image Award Nominee and New York Times bestselling author of the Wings of Ebony duology, including the masterful finale Ashes of Gold.

Kalynn Bayron, bestselling author of Cinderella is Dead and This Poison Heart, and her anticipated summer release This Wicked Fate.

Alechia Dow, author of The Sound of Stars and the Indie Next Kids Pick winning The Kindred.

Elise Bryant, bestselling author of Happily Ever Afters and the Indie Next Kids Pick winning One True Loves.

Nicola Yoon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Instructions for Dancing, Everything, Everything, The Sun Is Also a Star, and co-publisher of Joy Revolution, a Random House young adult imprint dedicated to love stories starring people of color.

How the pandemic transformed publishing

The pandemic has changed everything, including the publishing industry. In our new “State of the Industry” blog series, we’ll be breaking down exactly how the pandemic has changed the game for publishers, booksellers, authors, and readers. By understanding how the publishing industry has rapidly transformed in 2020 and 2021, writers and authors will be better prepared to navigate the new state of the industry in 2022.

Let’s start with a question: How did the pandemic in 2020 change the game for publishers?

Answer: They started out rough and finished strong.
According to a December 2020 article in The New York Times, (“Surprise Ending for Publishers: In 2020, Business Was Good”) book sales dropped sharply in March and April 2020 as panic and closures disrupted daily life. But demand increased beyond pre-pandemic level in June 2020 as buying habits and stores transitioned.

2020 concluded with:
Print sales up by 8% (NPD Bookscan)
Audiobooks up 17% over the same period in 2019 (Association of American Publishers)
Ebooks up more than 16% after a several year decline (NYT)

So, how did the events of 2020 influence book-buying habits and genre trends?
The short answer is that books on race and antiracism, politics, home DIY projects, and escapist literature like YA fantasy had a VERY good year.

Sales were UP in the following categories:

Sales were DOWN in the following categories:

Perhaps one of the most surprising developments in 2020 was a surprise sales boost for backlist titles as well as frontlist titles. Publishers are notorious for investing resources in frontlist titles, but requiring nearly immediate success for the book to be considered “a hit.” But in 2020, the postponement of new releases, coupled with an increased reading demand during lockdown and quarantine, proved that both backlist and frontlist titles could be financial successes. This could very possibly mean that publishers will be more willing to invest more in backlist titles in the future (particularly those tied to culturally momentous events within any given year) than they have in the past.

Where did the publishing market stand at the end of 2020?
Publishers saw a 10% increase in sales in 2020. Despite major issues with supply chains and staff layoffs, buying trends in 2020 that supported backlist as well as frontlist titles helped publishers succeed, and gave them more leeway to delay the release of new titles.

Amazon deprioritized books amid increased demand for medical supplies and household items, giving Barnes & Noble and a previously unforeseen edge.

Against all odds, 2020 was a profitable year for major publishers. The key takeaways here are:

  • Readers don’t necessarily care if a book is a new release, or a backlist title: if the subject is in-demand, they will buy it. Considering that backlist sales helped major publishing houses succeed in 2020, publishers are now more aware than ever of the financial potential of their backlist.
  • Genre trends are driven by reader demand, and what is or isn’t in-demand can change rapidly. Publishers may influence some genre trends intentionally, but at the end of the day readers drive the market, and publishers will work to fulfill reader demand. A savvy author will be paying close attention to the demands and behaviors of their target audience, so they can write to meet the needs of their demographic. A great book is a great book–but a timely book sells.

How else did the pandemic change the publishing industry? Despite major rapid innovations, independent bookstores experienced major struggles and surprising successes. Learn more in next month’s post: How the Pandemic Transformed Bookselling.