Trends in the Book Publishing Industry Post-COVID: Insights from Sarah Noffke, CEO of One-Twenty-Six Press

In a rapidly evolving book publishing industry, understanding and adapting to trends is vital for authors and publishers. To gain valuable insights into current trends, challenges, and the future of the industry, Sarah Noffke, the CEO of One-Twenty-Six Press, a writer with over 100 books under her belt, explains her take on the impact of COVID-19, how she capitalized on the changing reading landscape, and her views on AI, Amazon, collaborative writing, and the ever-shifting genre trends.

“Find your unique gift and write what you’re passionate about.” Sarah Noffke 

Noffke’s journey into the world of writing began as a search for her unique gift: “I never really wanted to work,” she says, noting that when you do what you love, it doesn’t feel like work at all.

She published her first book in 2014, marking her transition into the world of self-publishing, a choice many writers were making as the publishing landscape transformed. “I don’t think anybody ever has a choice; it’s one of those things that I feel like you’re called to do. It’s about finding your unique gift.”

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 had a significant impact on the book publishing industry. Noffke describes the initial transition to remote work as a breeze, since she was already accustomed to it. However, the pandemic brought about changes that influenced her writing and the reading habits of the general population. “As people were forced to stay at home, they turned to books for an escape.”

Noffke’s success during the pandemic was a result of recognizing and capitalizing on the changing needs of readers. “People were staying home and were reading more,” she explains.

Recently, trends changed again. “People are going out, doing other things, and exploring new interests outside the home,” Noffke explains. Writers now face the challenge of adapting to evolving trends. “It just hasn’t been as profitable since COVID because people are going out and living their lives.”

In the world of publishing, Noffke understands the importance of adapting. “We have to be looking at a lot of opportunities that we didn’t explore before,” she emphasizes. To stay relevant, she plans to experiment with new genres, including romance, in response to readers’ shifting preferences.

Noffke advises writers to remain flexible and responsive to evolving genre trends. “Find your unique gift and write what you’re passionate about,” she says. She highlights that the key is to explore niche genres, as they often become the next big thing. “We have to take risks and challenge ourselves to write in genres that can become popular, but at the same time are still inside of our interest.”

Noffke is honest about her mistakes. “I screwed up more than anybody else in the industry. It took me about 50 books to figure it out, and now I have the confidence that when I write, I can write it well and communicate with the fans that are going to buy it. With that being said, I am constantly learning.”

Collaborative writing, where two authors come together to create a story, is a practice Noffke actively engages in with Michael Anderle. “Collaborative writing pushes me in ways I’m not good at doing on my own,” she explains. However, she draws the line at AI writing.The AI can’t write like us; it doesn’t possess our creativity and thought processes.”

Amazon, a major player in the publishing world, has undergone significant changes. Noffke notes that authors are being compensated less, and this has led to the rise of selling direct to readers. “Selling direct is more work, but it’s also more rewarding. It’s about finding what works best for you and your fan base.”

When it comes to predicting future genre trends, Noffke acknowledges the challenge. “Trends are cyclical and can be influenced by global events,” she explains. While it’s hard to predict with certainty, romance is likely to remain a popular genre. “Romance is always important in every single story.”

Passion for writing and the ability to create stories that resonate with readers are essential in the ever-changing world of publishing. Noffke’s journey and insights highlight the significance of finding one’s unique gift and staying flexible to adapt to emerging trends. “We have to stay flexible, we have to adapt, and we have to be responsive to reader preferences.” As the industry continues to transform, Noffke reminds us that staying true to one’s passion and being open to change are the keys to thriving in this ever-evolving world of storytelling.


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