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.
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.