Writing Your Proposal — Competing Books

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In this section:

    Competing Books for The Visitor, Roundfire Books

    Why we ask you to add competing books

    Book shop buyers are not going to read your book! Shelf space is limited. If they are to stock your title, they need to return someone else’s. They want to know where it fits into the market. Some won't stock titles without a list of titles to compare against. Retail buyers in North America particularly ask for this. In addition, they help our readers prepare their reports.

    This is particularly crucial for non-fiction , but still important for fiction.

    How to add competing books

    • If you can, only choose titles published in the last two to three years.
    • Enter author, American publisher, 13-digit ISBN starting 978, date of publication, page extent and price.
    • The 13-digit ISBN is American. Check on Amazon (use the US Amazon.com) for details, or convert the UK 10-digit ISBN using http://www.isbn.org/converterpub.asp.
    • To add a book, click on the blue "+add a competing book".
    • Access to this box will be blocked once your proofs are finalized.

    Tips on choosing competing books

    • Do not write "There is nothing like this book around, it is unique"—of course it is unique—the obvious answer from the buyer is that there is nothing similar around because no one else has been daft enough to think there's a market for it.
    • Use Amazon to research them. Do not rely on bookshops to see what else is available in your subject area, or a library, as they are likely to stock only a microscopic fraction of relevant books.
    • Think, "which books would I like to see mine next to on the shelves?"
    • Do not put down competing titles that look as if they have only sold a handful of copies.
    • On the other hand, comparisons to a first-time author with bestsellers tend to be similarly counter-productive. A comparison to The Secret or The Da Vinci Code just brings an immediate dismissal; the buyer has heard it so many times.
    • You can get a rough idea of sales by looking at their ranking on Amazon. More on that in Chapter 15 on Amazon. Anything under the ranking of 50,000 is worth using; beyond that, it is probably too specialist a title for the bricks-and-mortar stores to be interested in.
    • Your own bookshelves are probably not helpful, in that you may have an old edition with a different ISBN, which currently has nil sales on Nielsen (tracks all book sales).
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    Unique Selling Points

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