Research Your Competition

Even before you start to write your book, you should research your competition. For example, let's say you wish to write a book on Renaissance Herb Gardens. You must compare your book concept to what is currently in print or out of print. Your list should include up to 

twenty competing books with the following information:




Copyright date and year of publication


ISBN (all versions)

Number of pages

Number of illustrations/photographs

Special features of the book

In the first paragraph, write a brief description of the competing book, and in the second paragraph, describe why your book is better than and different from others.


You should ask yourself how your book will find a place in the marketplace to replace the competing books. 

Make sure your research on your competition is through and complete. If you find more than twenty competing books, the market may be saturated. Fiction is different. Your writing should have a unique voice. 

Research Sources:

Books in Print and Out of Print

Periodicals, newspapers, Internet

Google Book Search

Library of Congress website

Book Publishers websites (often they will show their forthcoming books) -- check Literary Marketplace for complete list

Publishers' Weekly Magazine

Authorities in your field

Libraries and librarians 

Directories, databases

For excellent information on researching the competition, see Chapters 3 and 4 of  NONFICTION BOOK PROPOSALS ANYBODY CAN WRITE by Elizabeth Lyon. ISBN 0-399-52827-X, published by Perigee Books, $14.95.

Copyright 2010 Jan Kardys


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