08-03-2007 10:38 AM
Browsing the shelves of your nearest bookstore is a good way to meet your competition. Don’t let the word browsing fool you—consider a bookstore visit vital research for the success of your book, as it is the best means of assessing your competition and maximizing sales.
You can definitely start by searching for your competition online—browse the relevant category at bn.com to see what the major houses are publishing. For serious research, however, nothing can replace the experience of visiting a store physically and examining hardcover and paperback books. Retail bookstores provide a gold mine of information for writers beyond what they can get online. Pay attention to what’s on the tables and shelves or have a casual chat with a clerk. Gathering information about the books that are selling and receiving heavy promotion will greatly improve your odds of writing a marketable book.
Question to ask your local bookseller:
o Is the idea for your book unique?
o Is there a similar book that worked?
o Is this area glutted with books, or is there a void that a fresh approach could fill?
o Are there local writers’ groups, organizations, or media that might be interested in your subject?
o Are there certain times of year that books on your subject sell more than others?
Here’s a suggested activity: if you find books that compare or compete with yours, buy three: One, that you think isn’t as good as your idea (it will make you feel better on those dark days); second, one that is about the same level as yours so you can make sure your book has all the elements required for your genre and category; and one that’s a best seller in your area that will serve as a model for your book. Over the next few weeks, read them and provide a summary of each: how are they different; how can you make yours unique and better. Then put them on your bookshelf so that they don’t influence or infuse the actual writing of your unique book.
Need help figuring our your competition? Post your idea here and let the other participants weigh in with their feedback.
President & CEO
09-08-2007 01:50 PM
04-18-2008 07:21 PM
Seeking out the prospective market for a book was something I used to casually do during the writing of my books. Once, I borrowed a book from our local library and as I was reading the back cover, my blood ran cold. It had some similarities to my first book, even with some similar names. I literally swayed on the spot. I thought, OMG!! Someone has stolen my ideas!' My next thought was, 'OMG people will think I'VE stolen HER ideas!!!' I checked out the book and rushed from the library clutching the book with dread. Within pages of the book, however, I was immensely relieved to find that the story was very different, and could never have been a problem. Funnily, this was one of the deciding factors in my getting published, because I kept feeling that the longer I leave it, the more likely someone is to publishing something similar to mine!!
I had visions of being locked in a courtcase - emerging from the Court House, Paparazzi swarming around me like desperate flies after a rotten tidbit; me with a large (expensive) pair of Gucci sunglasses and a floppy (yellow) hat hiding my shame from a disillusioned public, wondering where my next pound will come from...
Author of Rhuddlan