by Steve Laube
When I ask a room of writers if they would buy their own book if they saw it on the shelf at a major bookstore I am met with a variety of reactions. Laughter. Pensiveness. Surprise. And even a few scowls. How would you answer that question?
But the question is meant to ask if your book idea is unique. Whether it will stand out among the noise of the competition.
It is not a question of whether your book is important or valuable or even well written. It is ultimately a question of commercial viability.
You may heard it said that piracy is a problem for writers (and it can be). But I would agree with those who say that obscurity is an even greater problem. If no one knows about your book no one will steal it…and no one will buy it either!
This is why that competitive analysis portion of your proposal is so important. Help the agent help the publisher to create space on the physical store shelf but also on the virtual Internet store shelf. Help them position your book so that it rises from obscurity into viability.
This can be as “simple” as a dynamite title. Or it could be a strong platform that stand out in the crowd. Or the skill in the writing is so amazing that the book creates evangelists who will tell the world to read it.
So. Would you buy your own book if it was on the shelf next to an über-famous author on the same topic or in the same genre?