Corine La Font, Contributor
In my previous article, we spoke about knowing who your target audience is and I hope by now you were able to employ some of the strategies I suggested to actually draw a mental picture of those persons who belong to your target group. I also hinted at doing research which forms a significant, if not the only component to knowing who you are up against - your competition!
There are two main reasons why you should do a competitive analysis:
1. It allows you to know upfront whether your idea or concept for a book is worthy of being on the market. In other words, can it stand up to the test of other books in the same genre? Knowing this will help you to make an informed decision going forward.
2. For those of you pursuing a traditional publishing house, a competitive analysis forms part of the book proposal a publisher will need to determine whether it will be in their best interest to invest in publishing your book.
3. I added this one for extra measure.
While you are assessing whether your book can stand up to the competition, you also have the benefit of learning what readers appreciate in the market, the style of writing they enjoy, the topics of most interest to them, and the kind of covers that appeal to them, to name just a few. You can take this information and decide to change your mind altogether on what you were about to write, design of the cover and style of your writing. In other words, you take the weaknesses of others and make them your strengths and take their strengths blend them with yours and craft an even stronger book to put out to market. Does that make sense? Or you may be the determined type and with a leap of faith and some know-how, you put your book out there anyway!
Let's get a little deeper with this competitive analysis.
It is best to find six to eight books that are directly competitive to yours to obtain as much background information that will help you to ramp up a comprehensive report. This you cannot do alone for as you can tell by now, it takes time and research that I am sure most of you are not inclined to do for your focus is on writing the book that you believe in and want to share with the world.
Let's zone in even more.
There are some obvious ways to find out the information you will need to put into your competitive analysis:
1. The author's own library: As a writer, you will find yourself buying the books that you are more inclined to read and obviously write about, so why not start close to home or rather in your home at what books you have already collected that competes with your book.
2. Your local bookstore: This was also mentioned in my previous article and I will reiterate here. Check out the fast movers versus the slow movers in your category, peruse the books for style, layout, cover and don't forget its placement on the bookshelves in the bookstore. Try to get some idea of the sales per month. It's hard to get exact figures so don't have high expectations. For those going the self-published route and publishing to Amazon for example, you need not worry about a bookshelf for there is no physical place to stack them, but my next point will speak to this.
3. Check out Amazon.com: look around, see who and what the best sellers are, categories they are placed in and, most importantly, its ranking and number of reprints. Enter the title you wish to use for your book and see the results and descriptions that come up and learn from them.
4. Check out publisher's sites: Doing this will help you to know exactly what a publisher is looking for when doing a book proposal. They are quite specific and do state it on their sites. Take the opportunity to see who they have published and the type of books they publish. Most, if not all publishers indicate the type of books they publish and may provide links to others that publish the genre you write in.
I hope this has been helpful to you. I can imagine how stressed you must feel right now thinking that all of this is involved in having a successful book but remember it is an investment and one that you should not take lightly for once you take the time to go through the process, you will be rewarded.
I want to take the opportunity to ask you to send me your questions or topics you would like me to explain or write on. I will certainly credit you for the submission. Kindly send them to my email address below. I have also found that there is a weakness in the way some authors write and, as such, I have designed a very short three-question survey to find out your level of interest in a writer's programme I am developing. Go to this link http://svy.mk/NCMgqY to submit your response.
In the next instalment, two weeks from today, I will feature 'Virtually anything is possible?'
Corine La Font is a Certified Author Assistant and Online Book Marketing Specialist. Tune in to her radio programme at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/helpdeskja. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or visit her website at www.helpdeskja.com