103. Dissect Your Book’s Competition

Competition isn’t quite the right word for other book’s in your category or on a similar topic.

After all, readers read.

Almost everyone buys multiple books on any given topic, so buying a different author’s book doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t also buy yours.

In this episode, find out how you can find and dissect your book’s “competition” at any point in the writing and publishing process to write, publish, and market your book more effectively.

For more writing tips and inspiration, follow me on Instagram @candiceldavis.

Mentioned in This Episode

Authors Ignited: Group Coaching Program for Nonfiction Authors

Jump-Start: A free guide to help you jump-start your nonfiction book.

Complete Author Coaching (1:1 Coaching)

Episode Transcript

Hey there and welcome to Nothing but the Words. I’m your Book Coach, Candice L Davis.

I hope your week and your writing are going well.

Before we dive in, I want to invite you to spend a day writing with me.

On Sunday, September 11, 2022, I’m hosting a Virtual Writing Retreat in my Zoom room.

I intentionally called this a writing retreat, not a writer’s retreat because we will not be doing panels and speakers and that sort of thing.

Instead, we’ll be spending most of our time writing so you can actually make progress on your book. And I’ll be there to coach you where you need it.

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t written a single word yet or you’re almost finished.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing every day or you haven’t written in months.

The Virtual Writing Retreat is going to be an amazing opportunity to get more writing done and take a leap with your book.

You’ll have me there to coach you, answer any questions you have about writing your book, and help you keep writing if you feel stuck. This is going to be so good!

If you’re a member of Authors Ignited, my group-coaching experience, you already have access to the retreat. Just check your email.

And for everyone else, I’ve kept the retreat at a very low price to make sure it’s accessible to anyone who wants to write their book.

Check it out at CandiceLDavis.com/retreat.

I really hope to see you there. This is going to be a great opportunity to get closer to your goal of becoming a successful author.

Now, let’s talk about competition, specifically your book’s competition.

Some of my coaching clients self-publish and some have traditional book deals.

You may already know that to get a book deal for a nonfiction book, you typically have to write a book proposal.

I’ve coached several clients through the proposal-writing process, and while it can definitely be intimidating the first time around, I really appreciate some of the process.

I honestly think it’s a bit overdone much of the time, but a lot if it is valuable.

One thing I love about the book proposal process is that it forces you to think through every aspect of your book, including whether or not readers want a book like the one you plan to write.

Most book proposals contain a section called something like Market Analysis or Competitive Analysis or Other Books vs. My Book.

Even if you’re self-publishing, this is an incredibly valuable exercise, and I recommend you go through it in whatever way works for you.

This might be most valuable before you start writing your book, but it can actually be super helpful anywhere in the writing and publishing process.

Getting to know your book’s “competition,” which I have to put in air quotes because it’s not competition in the strictest sense, can help you with planning your book, writing your book, designing your book, publishing your book, and marketing and selling your book.

So here’s the thing.

Most people who read books on a subject will happily buy and read multiple books on that subject.

If you’re a reader, you already know this.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a reader, think about how you approach a new subject you want to tackle or get more information about.

People who read science fiction novels typically read many novels from different authors. They read for the love of the story.

People who read memoirs are likely to want to read many life stories from many different people.

And people who are trying to accomplish a goal will likely read many books that can help them get there.

Many of my clients are entrepreneurs or, at a minimum, have some kind of side business.

I can promise you most of them have read multiple business books on various aspects of business, and they’ve even read multiple books on specific aspects of business.

So I don’t want you to think of “competition” as a bad thing.

In fact, multiple books on the subject you’re writing about can be a strong indicator that people want to read more books on the subject. 

So embrace competition and use it as a means to make your book the best it can be.

All it takes is a little research.

Start by identifying your top competition, books that have sold well and which readers might come across in a search with your book.

Search for books like yours using general terms.

Then use more specific search terms.

Search broadly and then narrow down the books that someone considering your book might also consider buying.

Choose books that have sold well, including traditionally published and independently published books, in the last couple of years.

Any bestseller obviously sold well—not a bestseller in a sub-subcategory but a verified Amazon bestseller.

But you can also look at books that have lots of reviews. Generally, the more reviews a book has, the more copies the author has sold.

That’s not an exact science, obviously, and selling well is relative, but if the book has several hundred reviews, it’s likely sold at a decent pace. If it has 1000 reviews or more, it’s likely sold quite well.

Agents and publishers want big-number books for the comparative analysis in a book proposal, but you may have reasons to compare your book to a book with smaller sales.

For instance, if you know a micro influencer whose book your specific audience loves, you should include their book.

Narrow down your list to the 5 that seem most relevant.

List what your book has in common with each one.

List how your book is different (and for some readers better) than each one. What sets you and your book apart from the pack?

If you want to take a deep dive, you can do this by reading all the books.

Or you can read the book descriptions, the sample, and the reviews and extrapolate a lot of valuable information that way.

In fact, even if you read the books, you should study the description and the reviews, especially the 2 -star and 3-star reviews.

Use the insights you garner from this process to take a look at the promise of your book, what you’ll include in your outline and ultimately your content, and how you’re positioning yourself in the marketplace.

I know it can feel scary to look through your book category and see big names or big sales numbers and think you have to compete with those authors.

The good news is that for everyone who wants to read Brené Brown or Tony Robbins, a Lisa Nichols or a David Goggins, there’s someone who admires their accomplishments but has no desire to read their books.

More good news, many of the people who read books by those big-name authors are hungry for more. 

They’re hungry for someone who will go deeper into the ideas or the story.

They’re hungry for someone with a different perspective.

They’re hungry for new ideas—no more “stop buying lattes” advice—and for stories from authors they can more closely relate to because some part of your story is so much like theirs.

Readers read and we have a habit of buying multiple books on any one subject. 

Your job is not to try to out-Iyanla Iyanla or out-Viola Davis Viola Davis.

Your job is to write your book as you—in your unique voice, sharing your unique stories, opinions, strategies, ideas, and philosophies.

Look at your so-called competitors and know that you’re about to join an exclusive club but there’s plenty of room for you as long as you show up as your unique self.

That’s all for this week’s episode.

I hope to see you at The Virtual Writing Retreat, coming up in less than 2 weeks from the day this episode airs.

It’s going to be a chance for you to focus on your book, get significant writing done, and get coached by me if you have questions or you get stuck.

Find out more at CandiceLDavis.com/retreat.

Thanks for listening to “Nothing but the Words,” I’m Your Book Coach Candice L Davis, and I’ll see you next time.

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