6) What other titles are competing with you? Knowing your competitive space is not only important, it’s mandatory. As I mentioned in #1, you want to identify your market and know that there’s an audience for your book. Once you do, however, you’ll want to get to know that market even better. You should read most (if not all) of the top books in your category (to the degree that time allows, of course). You should know the authors who write them and if possible, network with them via email, their blogs or (if you’re lucky) in person. Why is this crucial? Two reasons: The first is that you want to know what other titles are out there because your book needs to somehow align with the market. Also, what happens if you do research and find that there’s another book exactly like yours? Glad you found out now, aren’t you? Now you can change your book slightly to support a similar, but unique, message. Second, networking with other like-minded authors is always a win-win. It’s great if you can get to know them, share information, helpful tips, maybe even some upcoming networking events. Knowing your “neighbors” in publishing is never a wasted effort.
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4) Do you know how to compete with major publishers? If you’re self-publishing your book, or even trying to find a major NY publisher for your book, why would this matter? Because, as much as some folks like to say that NY publishers are doing it wrong, they are still the driving force behind the industry. Knowing when they typically release a majority of their titles and what their strengths and weaknesses are is important. Why? Because you need to understand what the competitive landscape looks like. It’s important to note, for example, that major publishers don’t generally publish to the niches. Why is that? Because they are focused (and must focus) on bigger areas: celebrity titles, trends, etc. Even the things (like the Snooki book) that might turn our stomachs. In an upcoming piece, I will spend some time discussing how NY Publishers work, as well as how you might compete with some of these giants.