To compare or not to compare?

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
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otherside89girl
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To compare or not to compare?

Post by otherside89girl » June 30th, 2010, 9:13 pm

First off, sorry if this is repetitive - I'm sure I saw a post about this somewhere but I couldn't find it.

Should I compare my novel to those of well-known authors in my query? Is it good to show I know my book's place in the market, or is that just extra stuff I could chop out of the letter?

Thanks!

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Quill
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Re: To compare or not to compare?

Post by Quill » June 30th, 2010, 10:42 pm

Per Nathan recently:
Another helpful thing to have is a list of comparison titles in your genre, even if it's fiction. It's something I like to discuss with an author before going on submission, and it's helpful if you know the other successful books in your genre that have similar worlds/themes.
Now, he doesn't specifically say to put this in the query, but to have it handy.

Personally I will put a couple of comparisons in my query near the end if I can find good ones. But I wouldn't use books/authors that are too big, like Harry Potter or Twilight. Or classics like Hemingway ("This is the next Old Man and the Sea, I tell ya").

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maybegenius
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Re: To compare or not to compare?

Post by maybegenius » June 30th, 2010, 10:49 pm

The answer to this, like so many other questions about the querying world, is an ambiguous "it depends." Heh :)

Based on what I've read, if you're going to compare titles, you need to 1.) compare to titles that are similar to your work, but not so close that it seems derivative, and 2.) compare works that sold well, but aren't insane mega pop-culture phenomenons (Twilight, Harry Potter, etc.).

As for whether or not agents WANT to see comparisons, it varies by agent. Some seem to think it's silly to compare, others feel it shows that you understand your target audience and can show that you've done your homework. Ultimately, it seems to me that if you're going to compare, you should be doing so because you want to show that you understand the market you're aiming for. Don't toss them in because it's something that "should" be there. I think you can probably skip it and it won't hurt you too badly - if an agent wants to see your work, they want to see it. It doesn't hurt for you to be up to date on what's selling in your genre, though.
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HillaryJ
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Re: To compare or not to compare?

Post by HillaryJ » July 1st, 2010, 12:21 pm

I include two comparisons in my queries, stating: [name of ms being queried] will appeal to readers of __ and __. With the manuscript I'm querying, I use one NYT bestseller and one debut author who has sold 6 books in a series but whose sales numbers are probably mid-list. I use them because I do believe my story will appeal to their readers, but purposely chose an established and a well-received debut author whose style is similar to mine though the characters/stories are quite different.
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Nathan Bransford
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Re: To compare or not to compare?

Post by Nathan Bransford » July 4th, 2010, 2:18 pm

The advice in this thread is spot-on. It's up to you whether to compare or not, but if you do I'd stick to successful-but-not-mega-bestselling books.

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Re: To compare or not to compare?

Post by CraftyCreations » July 15th, 2010, 12:10 am

What if there are no books like yours? There are two books that I have found that barely come close but they are actually compilations. Neither book is a first person, up close and personal account? One book was written by a journalist and the other by a doctor.

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PaulWoodlin
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Re: To compare or not to compare?

Post by PaulWoodlin » July 16th, 2010, 1:32 pm

I think it would be a mighty rare thing if there was no book like any other.

I think comparing your book to other authors' helps orient the agent or editor, but I've read on another agent's blog that saying you are better than another author makes one look egoistical (even if it might be true), so the form of comparison should be cautious.

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Re: To compare or not to compare?

Post by CraftyCreations » July 18th, 2010, 11:52 am

PaulWoodlin wrote:I think it would be a mighty rare thing if there was no book like any other.

I think comparing your book to other authors' helps orient the agent or editor, but I've read on another agent's blog that saying you are better than another author makes one look egoistical (even if it might be true), so the form of comparison should be cautious.

I agree. My subject is just starting to come to light. The first statistics weren't published until about 2004.

There's no way that I could tell an agent or and editor - or anyone else for that matter - that I'm better than anyone else. My ms is strictly a first person account. Although there aren't books published like mine 100%, I have noticed that there are many blogs out there on the subject. According to my mentor, when I go to do the proposal, I should include the websites for some. Blogs are the ONLY thing that I have been able to find that are 99.99% like mine.

Candy
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