Whether you are writing a query or a nonfiction book proposal, you need to know which books are comparable to your own. Note: Comparable does not mean identical or competing.
You do need to know which books would compete with yours. This is vital because you need to know that there is space for your book in the market place. If there are five books on mouse vocalizations for preschoolers, you can’t claim that your book on the same topic for the same audience will have no competition.
But comparable books are a little different. Or, as my grandmother would have said, they are a skootch different.
When you are trying to determine which books are comparable to yours, consider this sentence. The audience for my book is the same as the audience for (insert appropriate titles here).
You can’t give the world another Judy Moody or Stink but the humor in your chapter books might appeal to Megan McDonald’s fans.
You book about a group of princesses who double as secret agents is a bit too stark for Shannon Hale’s reader but might be perfect for those who appreciate Sarah Rees Brennan’s, especially if you include the necessary fantasy element.
If you write nonfiction, the above examples might not seem applicable but maybe you bring the passion to vocal music that Trombone Shorty Andrews brings to New Orleans’ jazz. Or you might have an eye for detail and comparisons like Steve Jenkins. Or a talent with cryptids and the offbeat like Kelly Milner Hall.
Take the time to analyze your work and come up with someone whose work has a similar flavor. Do this and you’ll know there’s a market for your type of writing and you can also take a closer look and make sure there is space in those reader’s lives for your work as well.