Friday, August 28, 2009

We're Off and Running

And we’re off and running. Fair warning, we will post a little more regularly at first until the blog is established and the search engines have picked us up. Then we’ll decide on a schedule that works best but still gives good, regular content. Let’s start by answering some questions:

Donn Taylor asked: The most difficult part of a proposal (for ms submission, not marriage) is the competitive analysis. What is the most time-efficient way to identify novels that might be competitive?

This is often confused with identifying comparables. Identifying comparables has little to do with the book or the writing but instead is a means of defining a reader base by answering the question, “If these readers like this book they’ll like mine.” Competitive analysis does deal with the book and the writer and looks to identify the actual books your title will be competing against in the marketplace.

The best way to do this is to be reading in your genre and be familiar with your competition. As agents we just can’t do enough reading to read all the competitive books all of the projects we’re handling will be up against. Both of these areas are places where a client can really help and can strengthen their proposal. We’ve always heard a writer should be reading in the genre they are writing in and this on a major reason why. As to a time efficient way to identify them, Amazon can be a big help here. If your title is out the Amazon listing will say what other books people who are buying your book are looking at or purchasing. If it isn’t out the same mechanism once you find a title that is a clear competitor can help you find others.

Another very quick way is simply to walk into a bookstore and see what else is shelved where your book is shelved or would be shelved. Ask the store personnel how they are selling. Your competition will show right up. Another such resource is your friendly librarian, they can tell you what in your genre is getting checked out a lot. In any endeavor in life knowing your competition can be the difference in success and failure.

Terri Dawn Smith asked: “I'd like to know if its helpful to send along a "sell sheet" or "one sheet" along with the proposal.”

I believe it is, and our submission guidelines request it as part of the proposal. It’s not only a good pitch to us, but we like to provide it in a package going to editors to give them something quick and easy to carry into a committee meeting to pitch the book.

To all of those who visited the blog and especially those who subscribed or became followers, thank you and we'll try to make it worth your while. The follower function is new, and actually shows who some of our delightful supporters are. The subscribe function does not show and we have no idea how many of those there might be, but I know there are some. Help us spread the news and above all, click on comment and ask questions. Now that I've handled these another agent will probably be in the box next time so I'm sure you will make them challenging.


Grace said...

You have been nominated for the Kreativ Blogger Award. View details at

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. This is helpful to know. Never thought of asking the librarian what's getting checked out a lot. That's great.

The Book Doctor said...

Terry, I didn't recognize you without your cowboy hat. :-) Thanks for all that great information.

Sandi Rog said...

Here's a question:

If an editor has seen your proposal and wishes to meet with you in person at a conference, what are some of the things a writer can expect? What types of questions might be asked of the writer? What should the writer bring, if anything?

max said...

I like the concept behind this blog. Congratulations to all involved.


T. Anne said...

Great information. I was wondering about the competitive analysis myself. Thank you! I'm thrilled with the blog.

Angela Breidenbach said...

Very helpful, Terry.

I gave a sell/one sheet to Tamela to help sell my book. I know it really did interest the editors. So it makes sense to included one in the submission.


Pam Meyers said...

I echo the comment made earlier. I had to look twice. Without the Stetson I didn't recognize you!

Looking forward to the blog entries from Hartline!

Terry Burns said...

Thanks, gang, you know I try not to work on Sunday and we probably won't be posting on Saturday either. We'll see. Like I say, the actual schedule is yet to be determined.