The last in a series of how to put together a killer book proposal
In part 2 of this series I discussed which components were important to include as part of your nonfiction book proposal. Two of the key components I mentioned were Competitive Title Analysis and the all important Market Analysis.
Competitive title analysis
Try not to be too intimidated by the terminology. A competitive title analysis is simply a review of what other books are out there that are similar to yours in terms of title, subheading or content. An editor or agent is going to want to see that you have done your homework here, so don’t gloss over this step.
This is also an important step for you as well. If done correctly, putting together this analysis should help you to laser focus in on your topic. In this section you need to demonstrate what other books are out there peddling the same thing, what the strengths and weaknesses of those books are, and why yours is so much better. Usually this involves a different angle or spin on the topic. Your angle is like a loaf of bread at the deli – fresh sells, day old is half off.
Have some fun with this. Go to some local booksellers. Spend some time looking at the books in stock that are similar in topic to your nonfiction title. What aspects or components do you like or dislike? Ask the proprietor which titles are really selling right now.
Remember that you are going to have to pitch this sale to an editor or publisher in the future so really come up with an outstanding reason why your nonfiction book would be a welcome addition to the genre.
Oh, and one more thing. Don’t you dare put in your competitive title analysis anything that resembles, “There are no books like this in today’s market”. That’s hog wash. You know it, the editor will know it and it is a sure sign of an amateur hack.
The publisher or agent is going to want to know who on earth is going to plop down $20 for your book. It’s a reasonable request. If a publisher is going to advance you ten grand on an idea, they deserve to know who will be buying it once it gets printed. So, how are you going to figure this out? It’s not necessarily very easy, but it can be done.
Your competitive title analysis should have helped bring your idea into a sharp focus. You need to have an audience in mind. When you wrote the first chapter, who did you visualize would be reading it?
The most succinct advice is to go where your potential readers are. Once you have the audience in mind, who are they? What do they read? What magazines do they buy? What associations do they belong to? What kind of stores do they patronize?
Once you’ve got these questions developed, then the real research can begin. Determine the number of subscribers to magazines in the genre. Find the amount of memberships that the organizations have. Find out what kind of conferences are applicable to your audience and determine their attendance records for the past two years.
Trust me when I say a lot of “potential” authors will not go through the trouble of doing this work. That’s great news for you. If you can make this section the strongest part of your proposal, your chances for an enthusiastic YES increase dramatically.
The lesson here is to do your homework. Do whatever it takes to get that all important affirmative response. A solid competitive title and market analysis will put you way out in front of the competition.
There is nothing particularly difficult to putting together a killer book proposal. You are selling an idea. Keep that concept in mind. Be professional in your approach and correspondence, do your research and your homework, and you will succeed in your goal.