Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Nonfiction Book Proposal Competitive Analysis

This Section of your Nonfiction Book Proposal provides a detailed analysis of competitive titles out in the marketplace and why your book is needed. You will need to openly talk about those most similar to yours and indicate why a publisher would want your book instead.

There are several questions that you need to address while composing this Section of your proposal.  Goldilocks has broken up this topic into a few components.  Simply click/tap on each component and be taken further down the page so that you can see detailed answers to help you compile information for this part of your Nonfiction Book Proposal.

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Two Basic Questions Your Competitive Book Analysis Should Address

  • Does it meet a specific need not addressed by the other books you are mentioning?
  • What unique prospective do you bring to your chosen concept/topic?

This is the part of your book proposal where you will address those concerns.

You don’t really like to think that your nonfiction book has competition, but the reality is that it probably does, it is just a matter of how many are they and how their authors present their topic in comparison to how you view the subject matter. You spent time gathering this information when you first set out to do research on your given book topic. So now is the time to talk about them in this Section of your Nonfiction Book Proposal.

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Why Would You Want to List Your Competitor’s Nonfiction Books?

You want to show that there’s a market for your work. Granted, you don’t want to stress the fact that a book exactly like yours sold well (unless it is old and you’re doing a much-needed updated version). You want to convey that there is indeed a readership for your topic, but your book takes a slightly different twist on what’s already out there, and you’re just the person to write it.

Sometimes you will find a book that mirrors yours in most ways. If this is the case, find a way to add something unique to your concept and clearly indicate the differences in this Section. Use side-by-side comparisons when your idea is very close to a similar book on the market. Such visuals can be very compelling as a reason for a publisher to choose your book for publication.

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Where Do You Find the Competing Books?

Look in bookstores, which is becoming more and more difficult to do as many brick and mortar shops have disappeared in favor of their Online cousins. Doing your research on Amazon is fairly easy as you can read a summary of a nonfiction book’s content with the click of a mouse.

Also, Google your topic and the problem it solves. Your greatest competition is probably a Website, Online community, or well-known blogger. Your proposal should evaluate not just competing print books, but also Websites, digital content, and Online experts serving the same audience.

While Doing Online Research Consider…

  • What terms would people search for if they wanted information or a solution?
  • Can you easily get authoritative information?
  • Is it free or behind a pay wall?
  • Where do online experts and authorities send people for more information?
  • Do they frequently reference other books?

Ask your local librarian where you would look for information on the topic you’re writing about.

People forget that libraries still exist and their reference desk attendants can be of great help to you.

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Additional Insider Tips: Choosing Books for Your Competitive Analysis

First, your prospective literary agent and publisher will go online and check your topic on Amazon. They always do this, so you should also.

Second, ignore books that are out of print and are not available in bookstores or Online. They are not going to compete with yours.

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How Many Books Should You Feature in This Competitive Analysis?

Your analysis should include at least four or five books. If you can get sales numbers (good luck—these are hard to find!) or at least mention that the books hit a best-seller list or went into a second (or third) printing, all the better.

Be cautious about mentioning those that didn’t sell well. Trying to persuade a publisher that your book on the same topic will…

“Sell better because the writing style is nicer”

Resist trashing the competition, it will come back to bite you. This is not the place to adlib, publishers can tell when you haven’t done your homework. Also, researching and fully understanding the competition and its strengths/weaknesses should help you write a better proposal.

Whatever you do, don’t claim there are “no” competitors to your book. If there are truly none, then your book might be so weird and specialized that it won’t sell.

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Information to Include for Each Book in Your Competitive Analysis

  • Give the title and author of the competing book

Include the publisher and copyright date

  • Indicate the average selling price, considering the difference between buying it Online or in a bookstore
  • Sales figures
  • Ranking, was it on a best seller list?

The best way to cover competing books is to devote only one or two sentences to each entry. Be careful not to seem overly critical about the competition since in some cases you will be trying to sell your book to the same publisher. At the end of your list, summarize how your book will distinguish itself in the marketplace.

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Example of a Competitive Book Analysis with Helpful Hints

Let’s say you’re writing a book about a famous movie star. Here’s an example of the way to treat your competing books.

“A DRESS FOR… (Insert name of celebrity), name of author, publisher, and date published. Focuses only on her wedding dress and my book will talk about all… (Name of actress, wardrobe, and her sense of style.)”

Notice that the title is in ALL CAPS. The publisher and date should be in parenthesis. Your sentence describes the competing book and also tells why yours will be better. If there are three or four competing books be sure to talk about each one in this brief fashion. And that’s all you need to do for a Competing Books Section of the typical Nonfiction Book Proposal.

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Goldilocks has created her Methodology/Process for the next component in the Nonfiction Book Proposal process and you can go there now…

Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Nonfiction Book Proposal about the Author/Bio Section

Previously Goldilocks presented her Methodology/Process for composing the Nonfiction Proposal Book Components that should have been compiled up until this point. You can revisit them now…

Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Nonfiction Book Proposal Cover/Title Page

Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Nonfiction Book Proposal Table of Contents

Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Nonfiction Book Proposal Cover Letter

Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Nonfiction Book Proposal Overview Section

Goldilocks Methodology/Process: Nonfiction Book Proposal Marketing/Audiences/Target Markets

Goldilocks welcomes any questions you may have compiling your Nonfiction Book Proposal, and if you feel that you need help writing this most important document, just reach out to her…

Contact Goldilocks
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Pick up the phone: 914-944-1474

Goldilocks Wishes You Good Luck with Your Nonfiction Book Proposal Submission!