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Writer or writing: Editor's Notes #247 How to evaluate your competition
November 15, 2017
Hello,

Knowledge is power. Information is liberating.
—Kofi Annan


In this issue:

1. How to evaluate your competition
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt

1. How to evaluate your competition
If you self-publish, you absolutely must know your competition. Today, authors who use other publishers are increasingly being asked to provide at least some information about the competition to their potential publisher.

This is not as difficult as it may sound.

Simply put, you are being asked to explain why someone would choose to buy your book instead of the others like it. (And there had better be others like it. Publishers have no idea how to sell a book that has nothing in common with any others.)

Is your book fiction, nonfiction, poetry, romance, sci-fi, young adult, how-to, memoir, etc.? When you have a genre in mind, think of what is special about your book: point of view, setting, illustrations, new information, an interesting juxtaposition of ideas, etc. The more specific you can be about your book, the more targeted your market evaluation will be.

List the key words or phrases you have assigned to your book through the thinking you’ve done about the previous paragraph. Take your list to your public librarian and ask for help in finding books similar to yours. That is, which books would fit under the categories you listed? Search on Amazon using the same key words or phrases. I always begin locally on the theory that I can flip through the books quickly to decide which are really competitors. After that, I check with Amazon.

For each competitor, record the title, author, publisher, number of pages, format (hard cover, softcover, ebook, audio), and price. Add a brief description focused on the comparisons and contrasts to your book. All that is left is to state why your book is better than the competition.

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2.Tickled my funnybone
He who leaps off a cliff jumps to a conclusion.

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3. Interesting Web site
A very long time ago, Troye Jarmouth sent me this link. It’s time to pass it to those of you who like someone to suggest reading material.
http://www.thefussylibrarian.com/

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4. Writing prompt
Competition has potential for built-in conflict. Set up a competition, real or imagined, and write about it for ten minutes. I’m always interested to see what you write, so feel free to send me your results.

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