Here on Self Publishing Advisor, we strive not just to keep up with the current trends, but to try and keep a little ahead of the curve–which is why I spent the last five weeks unpacking the results of The Bookseller’s 2015 Digital Census (as described in the FutureBook).  For those of you who are perhaps checking in for the first time, The FutureBook collates information from those involved in the digital publishing industry (whether through traditional or “indie” means) and summarizes the top five current market trends.

[ I’ve broke down each trend, and you can find posts dedicated to each point linked at the far bottom of today’s article. ]

Reviewing the 2015 FutureBook and Digital Census findings has been a wonderful and enlightening experience for me–and hopefully it wasn’t entirely useless to you, as well!–but it’s not the whole picture.  It reflects our attitudes, hopes, and concerns at a specific, limited moment in time.  And ultimately, the FutureBook’s timeliness lends the material contained therein both its value and its constraints:

We need the Digital Census because without it, we wouldn’t know where our experiences as indie and self-publishing authors fit within a larger story–and we need the Digital Census to keep happening because there’s nothing static about the book industry.  As the FutureBook’s editors have said, the survey from which the Census information is collated was designed to “reflect how the sector is continuing to change [….] It asks [authors] what about what their perspective on the book business is, and how we can help them take their innovations to the next stage.”  Change is change, and digital publishing as well as self-publishing must continually reinvent itself to remain a force to be reckoned with.

Those constraints I mentioned? The Digital Census only touches upon those publishing matters which pertain to works that make an appearance in pixels.  It’s not a complete picture of the publishing experience, whether we’re talking about traditionally-published or independently published authors.  So while the Digital Census is an important piece of the puzzle, it’s not the be-all and end-all of information gathering for us here at Self Publishing Advisor.  Like clockwork, industry titans like Publisher’s Weekly and HuffPost Books release predictions for the upcoming year.  Bowker just released a report in November on the top concerns in the self-publishing market, while Author Earnings publishes its reports every few months.  It is my goal in 2016 to keep you “in the know” on all of these reports–because we all know one thing to be true:


You don’t have to be evil to recognize the power knowledge can bring–because power isn’t necessarily about the subjugation of others.  Power, in the world of self-publishing, is the ability to take hold of your own narrative and shape it however you please.  Just as empathy and cooperation will trump behavior in line with a “survival of the fittest” mentality (every time, according to behavioral scientists and psychologists), indie authors know that power is something we all benefit from cooperatively and collectively.  This is why, think, the self-publishing industry is such a rich and complex network of community forums, relationships, and partnerships.

All of this is a little beside the point, perhaps, but it’s worth noting that what we do with the information we collect is equally as important as the fact that we collect it.  Many of the reports and information sources, like Author Earnings and the FutureBook itself, are born from a desire to help the indie community!  And that’s the kind of generous impulse I can thoroughly stand behind, especially as we navigate the holiday season.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog,

Demystifying the Digital Census, Point by Point:

One: Mobile overtakes tablets and dedicated e-readers as the device of choice

Two: Digital sales are still growing, but they are also slowing

Three: Self-love levels recede as many indie authors report lower satisfaction levels

Four: Publishing remains very much divided on matters digital

Five: … And the majority believe publishers remain unprepared for what’s coming.

3 thoughts on “Why the Digital Census Matters : A Retrospective

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