Saturday, 11 August 2012

Writing the Competing Books Section

This is another section of your book proposal that tells the publisher that you have done your homework regarding the book your are proposing. What you write depends what your book is. You are trying to demonstrate two things: that your book is unique, but that there is a market for it.

First do a search on Google Books and Amazon for books with similar titles or in a similar niche to yours. Note the title and author of the books then write a single sentence about them. "A COLLECTION OF MEDIEVAL RECIPES by R W Wilkins (Abbey Books, 2010) takes a selection of recipes from several medieval volumes, however the original recipe is not given; in contrast, my book deals with a single Medieval cookery volume, giving the full original text, translation for each recipe and a modern redaction of every recipe." Note that the title of the competing book is given in all capitals, the author is given as a standard mane and the publisher and publication date are in parenthesis.

Do this for every book that could be considered as competing with yours. And, for each book you need to present:

1. The title, author, publisher and date of publication of the competing book
2. a brief description of the competing book
3. An assertion that your book is better.

You need to be a little bit bold here. You need to describe the competing book, yes, but you also need to tear it down a little as well. The aim is to show why your book is better and why the market absolutely needs your book. This is the information that your prospective publisher needs to hear.

One final note... Always, always, search for competing books on Amazon. Because this is where a prospective publisher or literary agent will go to hunt for books. They are going to do it, so you must do it too.

Most guides to writing a competing book section say that you should ignore out of print books and books that are not in bookshops — the argument being that these cannot compete with your book. But in some markets, mentioning these can be important. I write about historic texts and sometimes that text has not been published for over 200 years. This can be useful information to give a publisher.

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