Sales will be slower next year. That’s a spooky forecast, and one that is easy to make, because your collective Mad Genii have seen this pattern for quite a while. 2020 is an election year in the US. The uncertainty will slow sales of books. Election years are like that, even when it is a year where the presidential election is more certain (2012) or a mid-term election. It is not one hundred percent guaranteed that sales will slow, but I’d be willing to bet money on it.
What does this mean for us, besides more time to write as we try to avoid political ads and campaign stuff on the TV and phone?
For one, we need to be prepared mentally. If sales do not go as well as they usually do for your books and stories, don’t beat yourself up.* Do not give up. Other people will be having the same feelings and similar problems. Assume that 2020 will be a slow year, even for those of us who have multiple releases. It is not you, it is the economy at large. Your work is still good, readers still like you. The economic headwinds slowing us down are the problem.
Two, prepare financially. If you write for a living, make certain that your catalogue is up to date, and keep writing, even as you consider what you might need to trim from your budget. People will still buy stories, and demand will build. However, cutting back where you can, and reevaluating spending priorities would be a good idea. It might also be time to re-budget your working time, and to consider a second line of income if you can do so. If you are on the border between doing well enough to quit your day job and not quite getting to that point, plan on working next year. If you are able to go full-time writer, great! If not, you still have that safety net to build up savings and retirement.
Three, be not afraid. People want stories. We tell stories. Even in dark times, uncertain times, people want to be encouraged, cheered, amused, entertained, distracted, inspired. That’s our job. Keep writing, keep looking at cover art. This might be the time to download Gimp and start playing with free images or your own photos to see if you can learn to do decent covers for yourself (see #2 above). Keep writing, and don’t let the fuss and furor discourage you.
Four, keep releasing stories. Sales build sales, and holding your work back “until the market improves” can backfire. Stories are not foodstuffs. A full story-silo is great, but it is not earning you money.
This too will pass. Elections come, elections go, the sun will still rise, kittens will be cute, puppies will chew things, the weather forecasters will be wrong, and readers will want stories.
* OK, if you write something that stinks like a blend of overripe chicken and pig poo in late August, has no grammar to speak of, pounds MESSAGE into your readers with a baseball bat, and features characters so wooden that termites line up to buy a copy of your tome, yeah, go on and beat yourself up. (Or market it as deconstructionist, post-colonial New Wave, cutting edge, hyper-modernist literature.)