Let’s talk about competitive titles as it applies to a book proposal. First off, what is a competitive title? It’s a book that is in the same genre as yours and has a similar storyline. I’m sure you can probably think of a few right off the bat, but here’s the kicker…they have to have been published within the last five years.
Okay, so how do you go about finding books like this? Well, before Amazon, you would spend a good amount of time searching your local Barnes & Noble to find books that are similar to yours. You could also go to the library and hunt books down, but this will take a good bit of time as well.
For my book, I’m trying to find Romances that use the military as a backdrop for their storyline. I’m also looking for love triangles where someone has to choose between one love and another. This has proved to be a bit harder than I thought, but because of Amazon, I can search for certain storylines and narrow down my search by adding in specifics.
This is by no means a shortcut. I read back cover blurbs until my eyes felt like they would roll out of my sockets and melt at my feet. I had to take breaks because of irritation and fatigue, but my perseverance paid off. I finally found four books that are similar to mine, and they’ve been published within the last five years (This last little detail really hung me up. I could find within the last ten years a lot easier than the last five.)
Once you’ve found the books you want to use, you need to find out what format the agency wants you to use for submission. The agency I’m submitting to wants their competitive analysis like this: Identify novels published within the past five years that are similar to your proposed work. Tell us why your book should be published, and explain how your book is superior and/or provides a new slant on your topic.
I’ll give you an example from my proposal:
Just A Kiss (A Summer Harbor Novel), Denise Hunter, Thomas Nelson 2016
Military romances are popular. Similar hero and heroine dynamics, but my heroine thought her husband was dead, and so she moved on. With him coming back disabled, my heroine must decide between to men that she loves.
Finding competitive titles can also be beneficial for those who are self-publishing as well. You need to know the authors and stories you are up against. What does their cover look like? What makes you want to buy this book above others? How does their boon blurb read? How can you make your book stand out above the others? All of these are great questions to help you market your book for yourself. Next week we’ll talk about the market analysis part of the proposal!