How to Prove to a Literary Agent and Publisher there is a Viable Market for Your Self-Help, How-To or Business Book


To land a literary agent and traditional publishing deal, there must be a large, identifiable market for your nonfiction book. It is essential that your book’s market be specific, targeted and large enough to warrant publication. Here is how to reveal market viability in your book proposal:

  • Mention the popularity of similar books.
  • Include statistics on the topic to support your claims (for example, “In 2019, the oldest of the baby boomer generation, those born in 1946, will turn 73 years-old. 51% of them are women, and an estimated 4.6 million of those women are African-American…”).
  • Cite studies and reports.
  • Use media and articles that indicate an increased trend toward your subject (for instance, “According to an article in The New York Times in January 2018, green construction is on the rise…”).
  • Note the number of members belonging to associations, trade groups and organizations who would be interested in your topic.

There are many resources available to help you determine how many potential readers there are for your subject matter: 

  • Browse the bestseller lists for similar titles.
  • Use internet search-engines to find articles and interesting facts.
  • For statistical information, peruse the American Statistics Index. (Check with your local research library for access to this publication.)
  • For statistics on the number of books sold annually in a specific genre, review the annual publication The Library and Book Trade Almanac. (Check with your local research library for access to this publication.)
  • Read the Encyclopedia of Associations to find membership information on just about any type of organization. This book provides an extensive list of thousands of associations on almost any topic. (Check with your local research library for access to this publication.)
  • Directories in Print provides a comprehensive, annotated listing of more than 10,000 business and industrial directories and guides published in the United States. (Check with your local research library for access to this publication.)

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