Competitive Analysis, you say? I don’t have an MBA…
…You don’t need an advanced degree to do a competitive analysis and understand your competition. Use the steps I outline below and discover how to make your book stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Who are your rivals, and what do they do?
Try to pinpoint the genre you want to apply your work. I know, I know, your writing can’t be categorized in a little box. That’s why Amazon lets you use up to seven keywords and two main categories. Use them all! However, don’t just make up a genre off the top of your head. If you want to be found in the categories Amazon actually uses, look up Kindle ebooks on their website. On the left sidebar (Shown at left for your convenience). Drill down into the various categories until you find several that have less than 5,000 or 10,000 books. This will make it easier to stand out and reach the top 100 lists (something critical for organic sales).
Once you’ve narrowed down the field, seek out books that are similar to your own. Research the authors, including their Kindle ranks in various categories, social media followings, website presence, number of reviews, and anything else you think might be appropriate. Do this for three to five competitors to get a good idea of the current market and what you’re up against. Based on these real-life numbers, set goals for yourself. If you want to stand out, you’ll need to best these other authors in at least one or two of the areas I just mentioned.
As I said before, research the author’s platform (their website, social media presences, and more). Find out if they have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, or Pinterest accounts. If so, how much do they post? What do they post? How many followers do they have? How long have they had the account? These are all good things to know.
Something else you’ll want to look at is your competition’s covers. Do they use real photos or illustrations? Stock photography (Istock Photo) or a professional designer? What kind of fonts do they use? What kind of color schemes? I hate to say that the cover is the most important thing you can do to stand out in a crowded market, but the reality is that statement isn’t far off. I made a mockup of a nonfiction cover for my recent book Your Time and the initial design was way off base. I did more research and found that using illustrations with cartoony people for Time Management books was far more common. I redesigned the cover and now it looks like the book really belongs in the same field. Whatever genre you’re writing has similar standards that will help guide you to a more successful cover. If you have already published a book and aren’t receiving many sales, compare your cover to your competition’s and see if you need to make a change.
Sometimes doing a competitive analysis of the current marketplace can give you a better idea of yourself and where you want to go. In between novels or stories, it’s good to reevaluate where you’re at see if you need to make a change. I hope this blog helps you discover your place in a crowded market.
Tell me your thoughts in the comments below. What else do you do when conducting a competitive analysis?