One Writer’s Journey

March 10, 2017

Query Letters: Comparing Your Book to Another Title

One of the things that you need to do in your query letter is show the agent that you know something about the market.  Many writers do this by comparing their work to a book that is already in print.

As with everything, there is a right way to do this and a wrong way to do this.  Do not state that your book will be the next Harry Potter/Nancy Drew/Little House on the Prairie.  While everyone wants to be wildly successful, you don’t want the agent to just roll his eyes and then delete your query or send you the dreaded “good luck in finding representation elsewhere.”

The book that you chose to compare to your own should also be current.  That’s part of the problem with Nancy Drew and Little House.  Yes, I loved them.  Yes, I read them all.  But they were published then and this is now.  You want to show the agent that you’ve read something recent and that you know the market.  

These comparisons wouldn’t tell your target agent anything about your book.  They would just tell her something not altogether positive about you.

Instead, make a comparison, using a contemporary title, that hints at your book.  “My book has the same fantasy meets the Wild West feel as Rebel of the Sands.”  “Like Ronan in the Raven Boys, Jed is abrasive but compelling.”  This doesn’t say that my book will be an international seller like Rebel of the Sands.  I’m not claiming to have the same series potential as The Raven Boys.  But I am telling the agent something about the feel of the book.  In doing so, I’m also making her aware that fans of the popular book may also like mine.

Comparing your book to a successful, current title isn’t an easy task to do well but it is something that will tell the agent about both you and the manuscript.  Just make sure that it sends the message you intend.

–SueBE

 

February 3, 2016

Comparable Books vs Competing Books

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:34 am
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comparableWhether 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.

–SueBE

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