Yesterday I wrote about marketability and selling points. Another thing that Mary Kate discussed with us was competing titles. Which books are the competition for your work-in-progress? You should show awareness of this in your pitch and/or query letter.
There are two mistakes that writers make when naming the competition:
To think that no competition is a good thing. No competition might mean no market as in “no one can find an audience for this kind of book.”
Naming only the big dogs. Especially if you are a new writer, don’t think that your books will immediately compete with Harry Potter or the Hunger Games and win. Don’t name the most recent block buster. Show that you know the books that haven’t recently been made into movies.
The point of being able to name competing titles is to be able to tap into the audience for these books to help move your sales along. Naming the competition helps the editor and the marketing department pigeon hole your book, and I mean pigeon hole in a good way. Say Rick Riordan and they’ll think, fast plot and myth based. Jane Yolen? Literary and multi-layered. Wilce? Alternate history with a big dose of magic.
This isn’t easy to do but going through the effort will show the editor that you know the field and where your work fits. It gives you a chance to impress them with your manuscript and your knowledge.