How to Understand the Competition for Your Book

how to find competing books or your competition

I’ve written numerous posts about a book’s competition. I’ve also included this information in my books on business plans and book proposals. (Check out  This information is so critical to crafting a book that will sell—and getting it sold to a traditional publisher, that I asked another expert to give you his take on the subject. In this guest post, W. Terry Whalin (@TerryWhalin) not only explains the need for a competitive analysis for you book but provides the necessary steps to create one.

When I have asked authors about the competition for their book, some authors say, “I don’t have any competition. My book is unique.”

Another author answers, “Everyone. My book competes with every other book.”

From my years in publishing, neither answer works. Every author needs to understand the competition.

Discover the Competition

Take a few minutes and imagine your book concept as a real book. If you have one it’s easy but if you just have an idea, imagine the cover, title and your name on it. Got that image?

What section of the bookstore will your book appear? With this information, think about the current titles in this section? What books are facing out on the shelf? These books are your competition. The reader could reach for your book to take to the cash register (purchase), or they could reach for the bestselling title.

Study the Competition

Next write down these titles and investigate them using tools like Google. Can you get any sales numbers or information about them? This information is important for your pitch to literary agents and editors. You also need to include these insights about your competition in your proposal. Your careful consideration of these details will differentiate your pitch from others—and increase the chances of a traditional publisher contracting your book.

Even if you self-publish, you need to have this ammunition for your approach to the marketplace. If your book has been in print, you still need this information about the competition. Your literary agent and editor need this information to target your book. Needed it to get even issue a contract when I worked at another publishing house.

The Abundance Mindset You Need

Now with this understanding about your book and target market, what steps can you take to reach out and befriend that author and do something for that book? Take for example, my Book Proposals That $ell. While this book has helped many people, I’ve also reviewed other competitive books which are similar to mine. Just check out this article for more detail.


A key concept to understand your competition is a matter of attitude and perspective. Instead of the scarcity mentality where you have to protect your turf, I encourage you have the opposite attitude of abundance and cooperation. There are many potential readers and buyers for every book and every author. You can build bridges instead of competition. You can work with these other authors to cross-promote and much more if you have the right perspective.

Do you need more ideas about how to understand and take advantage of your competition? Whether you self-publish or work with a traditional publisher, every author needs to understand this critical concept. I have more information in Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success. This bestselling book has over 130 five Star reviews, but don’t get it from Amazon. I’ve reduced the price from $15 to $8 and included unique bonuses if you get it directly from me by clicking on the link above. This book is a tested product which has never been this affordable or accessible.

Take steps today to understand and know your competition. It will make your proposal stand apart from the others.

About the Author

W Terry Whalin headshot x160W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing, lives in Colorado. A former magazine editor, Whalin has written for more than 50 publications including Christianity Today and Writer’s Digest. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams. His website is located at: Follow him on Twitter at:


Photo courtesy of 134213 / Pixabay

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