competition for your book

Who is Your Audience – and Your Competition?



Authors often do very little research to really understand who their potential audience is – or could be.  Asking them: “Who is your audience and who is your competition?” one might receive only vague answers … However, these are essential questions that are not only very important for self-publishers, but also for authors who want to go with a traditional publisher!  You need to proof to the agent or the publisher that you have done your homework and that your book idea is a viable one.

How Can You Research Your Competition?
Knowing your audience  is essential and it means understanding their age group, interests, educational status and economic class.  Monitoring tweets, Google+ and Facebook posts, blogs, and other new media mentions of other writers in your genre is an easy, cost-effective way to learn about the readers of your competitors.
First of all make a long list with possible keywords that readers might use to find a similar book.  Check out the complete categories / genres at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Kobo, Apple, Google Books, Waterstones etc. and study all the books, that could be akin to your future work. Visit several public libraries to learn about your competition.  Borrow or purchase the most interesting ones, not only to read them, but also to study the book layout and design. Read the online reviews of their books carefully!

  • Where are these books sold and for which price?
  • In which format are they offered: e-book, print, audio-book?
  • Who are the customers of these competing books?
  • How are these books received and which ones are bestselling?
  • Which categories did they choose, and which keywords?
  • In which categories / genres are these competitive books listed?
  • What cover designs have been chosen for these books?
  • How many books of this topic / with the same keywords have been published already?
  • Which author represent him/herself and their book the best – via their Amazon and Goodreads author page, and on their website or blog?.

How to Find Your Competitor’s Readers
Whether you want to admit it or not, lots of writing competitors are out there. Devote some time and energy to research your competition and their followers.  Find out about their readers, book reviewers and social media followers on their platform, such as their online accounts or their website / blog.  Invite these followers and book reviewers to your own sites or to review your titles.  The tiny search function on every social media site is your best tool.  In order to know their reviewers use online retailer’s sites, such as Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble etc. and certainly Goodreads, where you can see their fans and friends.  Follow these people too and invite them to your own platform.
AdWords campaigns might also give you interesting insights into your competition.
Set up Google Alerts, not only for yourself, but also for all of our competitors to know what they are up to.  Other resources you can use to dig up information on your competitors:,, or

Always keep in mind: social media is more than posting on your page and gaining followers, it’s about fostering relationships.  Interact with your followers.  Respond to comments, ask questions, answer questions!  Be a true friend, and you will gain followers and future readers.

Don’t Give Up!
Bestseller authors often need years and years to build up their audience, so it is surprising, that authors dream of their first book as a potential bestseller, and don’t realize that it takes a long time and hard work to get an audience, one reader at a time – especially if they did not do the groundwork to build a huge following at social media, in reader forums or in real-life before they start publishing.


Author-Publishing is Like a Completely New Profession
And professions need to be learned! It takes years to become an excellent writer and it also takes years to become an excellent publisher. It involves lots of skills and knowledge business-wise, marketing skills, not to mention, learning constantly new internet techniques and get to know the latest changes in publishing. Many authors have unrealistic expectations when it comes to the time required for effective book promotion and to make meaningful connections with readers. They expect wonders from a single sales campaign.

Get Professional Help 
A book marketing professional has to learn years and years. Why, as an author, not take advantage of their knowledge to keep your head free for writing and interacting with your readers?  No one would start an accounting business without learning the ropes, and knowing how to create a revenue / expenses sheet or fill out income tax forms.  Writing a book does not make for a publisher, no matter how clever businesses want you to imagine. Take the time to build your author platform and establish a brand, it will eventually give you an advantage in the publishing market.
Don’t forget:  You are in this for a long time if writing is really what you like best in life. Get it right from the beginning!



First Things First! What to Research Before Writing?



“How to Research the Competition Before Your Write Your Book” was the title of a blog post that Stephanie Chandler wrote years ago.  I remembered it when I met a group of writers recently, talking with them about the book-writing and marketing process.

Imagine you build a house: You buy a property, but don’t care about zoning, you start building your home without any architectural or static plans, just erecting the beams or setting one stone over the other. The roof? The windows? You don’t care about these details, they will eventually fall in place … You may laugh to read about such a stupid way to start building a home – but it is equal to the way how some writers start their book, their publishing and book marketing.

Research Is Not Popular
The word research is often not very popular with authors – but unfortunately many writers can relate the lack of success for their book to the lack of research before writing, publishing and marketing. There are millions of books published every year and chances are very high that a similar one – not matter if fiction or non-fiction – is already published. But why would anyone not care about:

  • Keywords and title for your future book?
  • Similar books that are published already (your competition)?
  • Prices of similar books in your genre?
  • Cover design of books in your genre?
  • How do these authors describe their books on the Internet?
  • The popularity of the genre and potential readership?
  • Which forums about your topic are on the internet?
  • Where on Social Media do you find readers of your genre?
  • Which magazines / newspapers write about / in your genre?
  • Who is your preferred reader / book purchaser and how can you reach them?
  • On which reader forums can you post single chapters of your book?
  • Websites / blogs of writers in your genre?
  • How does your competition promote their books?
  • Which tags / keywords / hashtags do they use?
  • To which magazines / newspapers / blogs could you offer short stories to promote your book?

More Questions
If you want to go with a trade publisher:

  • Do you have a large amount of followers on Social Media / you blog or website?
  • Do you have a marketing plan for your book prepared?
  • Where can you find a critique group for your book before you offer it to agents?
  • Do you have a perfect query letter / proposal written? (to be send out BEFORE the book is finished

All this research is necessary, no matter if you write fiction or non-fiction. For fiction you have to do even more research: locations, times, characters for your book…

Where to Find All This Information?
Number one source is certainly the Internet. Just type in your genre or your future book title, keywords that readers would use to find a book like yours. Go to Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Sony, Apple and other online retailers and search for similar books and in the genre. Compare author websites and book sales pages. Find out how many books are in which categories, and what reviewers are writing about these books. Check out their books sales numbers, their covers and book blurbs.

Visit bookstores and libraries and check out your competition. Create a mock-up of your future book and compare its cover and spine, placing it among the bestsellers in your genre. Does it stand out? Ask sales personal which book is the most popular in your genre and find out why when reading it.

There is No Such Thing as Too Much Research
Sheryl Clark gave this useful advice in one of her blogs: “No matter what information you find or where it is, record the source. I keep a big notebook and I put book titles and authors in it, as well as websites and journals. You never know when you might need it again, or might need to verify where you found it.”

Could you answer all these questions that I listed?  What did YOU do to research your future book, it’s competition and marketing possibilities?  Do YOU care about the success of your upcoming books?



If you would like to get more support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or to learn how you can make yourself a name as an author through content writing: We offer all this and more for only $179 for three months – or less than $2 per day! Learn more about this customized Online Seminar / Consulting for writers:

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Tagged: book research, competition for your book, forum and communities in your book genre, potential readers for your book, similar books already published?

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