There’s nothing worse than completing an entire manuscript only to discover that someone else has already released a book just like or quite similar to the one you planned to publish. That’s one of the reasons why I have my blog-to-book coaching clients complete a competitive analysis of both published books in their category and blogs on their topic right after they analyze their market and before they begin blogging a book. By studying both similar books and blogs, these book bloggers can not only be sure to write a book different from those already on the market but also one that provides unique content not provided by other authors. This means their blogged book will be unique and necessary and of high value to readers.
When you consider how to target you market with a book, you want to provide value to your readers. The way to do this is with information or a story no one else has offered previously. To ensure you accomplish this goal, you must study and analyze other books and blogs before you write a word of your blogged book. Once you have this information, you can create a table of contents for your book and break your content down into post-sized bits. Then you are ready to write.
Do You Have Competition?
Traditional publishers require a “Competition” or “Competing Titles” section in a book proposal. It consists of a list of about five other books. Typically, this section is required so they can do an analysis of how many copies these titles have sold. This gives the publisher some idea of how many copies your book might sell if published.
For the purposes of writing a better blogged book, you want to do a competitive analysis as well, but you are only concerned with what the author wrote about, not with how many books he or she sold. That said, you do want to look at the top selling books in your category that have been published in the last five years.
To do a competitive analysis, start by taking a virtual sleuthing trip to an online book store. Search out the most relevant and the bestselling books on your topic or in your category. Then “Search Inside.” Examine:
- The Table of Contents
- The back cover copy
- As much chapter content as possible
- The introduction or foreword (if possible)
- The length of the book in pages
When you have 10-15 books, take a trip to your local bookstore and do some sleuthing there. Take a look at what you find in your category. If you find new titles, explore these. Also take a closer look at the titles already on your list; here you can actually read a few chapters.
As you look at the books in the online and brick-and-mortar stores take notes about how each book is different or similar to the book you want to write. For nonfiction, consider if the author has forgotten content you know readers desire or left certain questions unanswered or essential problems unsolved. Note if they have included special features, like meditations, tips, or questions at the end of each chapter. Pay attention to any gaps in their information.
For fiction, notice similarities and differences in plot, theme and location. Note if these authors all choose to tackle similar issues or types of character development.
Also take some time to look at the other blogs on your topic. Go to www.technorati.com and www.blogcatolog.com and search for similar blogs. You can also do a Google search for your primary keyword or keyword phrase plus “blog” and see what comes up. Then go read these blogs. Most of the bloggers will not be blogging books, but it is important to take note of how the most successful bloggers address your topic. Notice the style and voice with which they write as well. You want your blog and blogged book to address the topic in a different manner.
You can also look at the blogs of authors who write books similar to the one you plan to write. See what they blog about. Their blogs may be similar to your blogged, although they likely won’t be blogging books.
Just as your blogged book should be different from other books on the market, your blog should be different from other blogs. Take notes about all the blogs you visit.
Write a Unique, Necessary and Valuable Book
As you scrutinize these other books and blogs, you might find yourself coming up with new ideas for your own book. You might have epiphanies about how to write a more unique book, one that will fill the proverbial “hole on the bookstore shelf.” You might have insights into how to tell a totally different story than the other authors in your category. You might also discover ways to meet your readers’ needs by providing more benefit. (Remember those unsolved problems and unanswered questions in the other books? Those are opportunities for you to create a more valuable book.) You might even see something interesting done by another blogger that sparks an idea for your book.
Armed with the intel from your sleuthing and your new ideas, you now can mind map or outline your book, assuming if you haven’t done it at some earlier point. If you’ve already created a table of contents or an outline for your book, you can improve your earlier work, thus creating a book that is the most unique, necessary and valuable.
With this task done, you can blog a unique, necessary and valuable book. If you keep your market in mind, you will have a highly saleable book that gives you the competitive advantage in your category.
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