I’m sure your approach and spin on your book’s subject is trailblazing, but there are certain steps that bestselling authors take BEFORE their book is published.
The number one secret of bestselling authors: knowing what’s already in the market. The questions below are things to consider as you research competing titles. In the business world, this is known as a competitive analysis. Your answers to the following questions will not only help strengthen your vision, but will help you create the book that will stand out from the pack.
1. What is the current demand within your book’s genre?
2. Who is your competition? Are they well known? Would they write a testimonial for you if you approached them?
Knowing your competition, positions your book to truly be unique. Tip: research criticisms of your competition (on Amazon.com) and discover ways to address them in your book.
3. What’s the average retail price for your competition?
Make sure you book is priced competitively, but also high enough to recoup your costs. Here’s a great post from our Duolit friends on book pricing.
4. What’s the ratio of paperbacks to hardcovers in your genre?
Choosing the right format for your book also positions it appropriately for your audience’s budgets and expectations.
5. Do electronic sales outpace paper sales, or is it the other way around?
You have to know where to focus your efforts. If your book’s genre does better in print form, you need to know that. Also, if most of your competition is available in e-book form, your book should be too.
6. What do the books in your genre look like?
Your book can’t have missing parts. You must know what extras your book should include (color, images, an index, resources, etc.). If you can, go beyond what your competition offers — be a trendsetter.
7. What are the keywords in the title, subtitle, and back-cover copy of your competition? What words jump out when you look at the book front to back?
Keywords are important in the overall picture of helping your book become noticeable and accessible online, especially in the eyes of Google and Amazon. Don’t focus too long on this, but jot down the two or three keywords that your book should have present in your marketing copy, blog, website, social media interactions, and in your book.
8. What are the major differences between books published recently and those published a while ago?
How have the books in your genre evolved over time? Again, use this information to become a trendsetter.
9. Who are the reviewers? What are the themes in the testimonials?
Readers pay attention to books that have reviews. You need to know who reviewed your competition and what strengths were identified. If you know this, you’ll determine the expectations of your readers. Also, follow those reviewers on Facebook and Twitter.
10. In your opinion, what makes your competition appealing to you as a consumer?
Once you know what you like about your competition, raise the bar. Is the design, the creativity in plot, or the thoroughness impressive? List the strengths of your competition and meet each one head one.