Posts Tagged ‘agent’

No publisher wants to publish a book that covers the same ground existing books cover. Likewise, no intelligent self-publisher wants to waste the family’s resources on a “me too!” book.

Thus, not only does your book have to serve your intended reader’s needs instead of your interests or your ego, your book also has to bring something new to the table.

The starting point is to evaluate the current competition. This is a task that you can easily accomplish online in two steps:

  • Step One is to locate competing books in your field. You want to know what’s already available, so you can avoid rewriting an existing book.
  • Step Two is to organize the results of your online research into a visual format that will help you position your book relative to the competition.

The procedure outlined below will help you keep track of existing books in your field and save you time identifying the ideal position for your book.

Step l: Locating competing titles

Start by creating a 4-column worksheet similar to the Competing Titles Worksheet shown at left. You can easily do this using the table feature built into your word-processing software. You can also create a spreadsheet using Microsoft Excel, or a mind map using Mindjet’s MindManager. (A writing tool we’ll be discussing in an upcoming Author Journey.)

As an easy alternative, to get you quickly get started, you can also work by hand using sheets of lined yellow paper, as described below:

  1. Draw 3 equally-spaced vertical lines on the sheet of paper. This divides the page into 4 columns of equal width.
  2. Add “Author/title” to the top of the first column. When entering author’s names, of course, be sure to begin with the author’s last name, followed by their first name. This will pay big dividends later.
  3. Title the second column “Big Idea.” Or, you can call it “premise” or “type of book.” The goal is to briefly describe the author’s approach to the topic.
  4. The title of the third column should be “Pros & Cons.” This is where you briefly comment on the book’s strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Add “Keywords” to the top of the fourth column. This purpose of this column is to pay attention to the Search Engine Optimization keywords associated with the title. The best book titles are those that contain the keywords readers are searching for online. The sooner you identify the keywords used with successful existing titles, the easier it will be for you to incorporate the right keywords in your book marketing and promotion.

Note that the above worksheet is not intended to include every detail about the books you locate online. Instead, it’s main purpose is to provide a handy way of seeing–at a glance–what’s already been written in your field as a prelude to positioning your book.

Step 2: Visually positioning your book

In order to position my forthcoming book apart from existing books on the topic, I created a simple Book Positioning Worksheet that you can use to position your book apart from existing books. This book will help you identify the most popular categories of existing books, so you can stake out a new territory for your book.

In my case, my goal was to help business professionals write a book that would position them as thought leaders and obvious experts in their field.

Surveying the available books in the writing field, I quickly noticed how most books fell into one of eight categories. For example, there were numerous books in the following categories:

  1. Introductory books about writing and publishing
  2. Locating an agent or preparing book proposals and query letters
  3. How to self-publish a book and make oodles of money
  4. Inside story, or “publishers are mean” books
  5. Creativity and inspiration books
  6. Editing and self-editing books
  7. Marketing and promotion techniques for authors
  8. How to make money writing books

With the competition displayed in the outer 8 boxes of the Book Position Planner, I could see that the missing book–the book that no one had yet written–was a book about book titles!

And, I was off and running! The breakthrough was being able to view existing titles as groups of titles, rather than individual titles.

In the next Author Journey, I’ll address the steps I took to choosing the right publishing alternative and the right publisher.

Offer

If you like the idea of a Book Positioning Planner appeals to you, drop me an e-mail at Roger@Publishedandprofitable.com. I’ll send the first 10 who respond a PDF copy of the Book Positioning Planner shown above. (Please include Book Positioning Planner in the subject line. Thank you.)