At IBM Press we get lots of proposals.  The majority of the proposals state that their is no other book in the market like the one the author is prosposing.  Oh really?  There are lots of books out there.  Understanding your competition is very important when evaluating the viability of your book in the marketplace.  You can easily research titles by spending some time on Amazon, reading published books on your topic and understanding how well books on your topic are selling.

Remember the publisher takes on all the risk and the costs for producing the book.  The more homework you do the better chance your proposal has.  Here’s a few tips for understanding the marketplace for your book.

  • Don’t just look at the “published” books on your topic – look at what will be publishing in the future.  Publishers often feed books to Amazon up to a year out from publication date.  If you are writing a book on “podcasting”, sort the list on Amazon by “publication date” and see what is being planned.  Someone may have beat you to the punch.
  • Look at the sales of books.  Amazon rankings just give you a snapshot for a moment in time.  A great tool is found at titlez.  This is a free site that allows you to look at Amazon rankings over a longer period of time.  For example, type “podcast” into the title field and it will list all books on podcasts.  It will show you sales ranking for the last 90 days and lifetime average.  You can compare books and see which have been the best sellers.

“When Alexander the Great visited Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for the famed teacher, Diogenes replied: ‘Only stand out of my light.’ Perhaps some day we shall know how to heighten creativity. Until then, one of the best things we can do for creative men and women is to stand out of their light.”
Tell a FriendJohn W. Gardner