“Do a Costanza” with Your Book’s Competition

Few authors want to think about competition. It may feel crass or unspiritual to think of competing with other authors. It may frighten you to think that other books have already been written on your topic. Most authors don’t like the idea of crushing their competition and may even avoid looking to see what other books are available in their genre.

Here’s the good news: It’s great that other books are written on your topic area. It signals that people are interested in the topic and actively seeking information in book format. Rejoice!

Rather than letting the idea of competing books discourage you from writing your masterpiece, use these ideas to engage with your book competition in a positive and helpful manner.

Use competing books as a treasure trove of market research opportunities. Spend some time in a bookstore or online book seller and make a list of the top 10 books selling in your genre. Next…

  1. Review the table of contents for each book. Notice common themes. Decide if you want to include some of those common themes in your book or craft your manuscript to appeal to the more advanced reader.
  2. Look for opportunities. As you review the contents of those 10 books, seek out areas that are missing or underdeveloped. These missing elements are perfect material for your book.
  3. Observe the tone and demographics. If all the top selling books are written to appeal to Baby Boomers, can you write to those in their twenties? If all the books are serious, consider writing your book with a humorous approach.
  4. Read a few of the competing books. If you find books you really enjoy, contact the author and begin a networking relationship. You may wish to include that book as a recommended resource or create a joint marketing venture with the author.
  5. Visit the websites and blogs of selected authors to assess how they market, what types of products and services are offered, if any, and the strengths and weaknesses of the site. Then, look for fresh ways to approach your book marketing which incorporate your personality and background.

In the early 1990’s sitcom, Seinfeld, the character George Costanza had a unique approach to success. He would find out what everyone else was doing and then do the opposite. Other characters on the show would refer to this trait as “Doing a Costanza.”

It’s actually good advice for an author.

Competing books can teach you, inspire you, and perhaps lead to collaboration with like-minded authors.

Instead of fearing competition or jealously regarding their success, embrace competing titles and open up to fresh streams of creativity and significance.

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