Apples to Apples



YA Highway and friends are at it again for Road Trip Wednesday.

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: what are your comp titles/authors?

This question is bound to come up at some point in the submission process, so it's well worth some thought. But, like queries and pitches, it can be frustrating because comparisons often don't feel like they capture the uniqueness of your book. Makes sense, though--if your book is exactly like another (published) one, why write it? Why would anyone buy it, for that matter?

For YA books, I think mine is most similar to the Blossom Culp books by Richard Peck. Different time period and the protag is younger than mine, but otherwise similar in that Blossom and my Isabelle both communicate with spirits. And those around them react with varying levels of acceptance.

I also think The Historian would be a good comp--except that my book is only about 93,000 words, only a fraction of Kostova's 241,000 word tome. And I'm less likely to use that as a comp anyway because it seems like an overly ambitious choice--sort of like saying "I guarantee this book will be a multi-million copy bestseller" in my query. I've heard not to do that. Or was it that you should do that, I can't remember?

9 comments:

Mike Maier said...

i think it's wise to steer clear of the gigantic book as a comp... but then again, you never know. As long as your word count is reasonable, they may assume your book is comparable to The Historian in other ways.

Mike Maier said...

oh- and I'm on my husband's computer. d'oh
this is KO-
http://katharineowens.blogspot.com/
who appreciates the recommendation you left on my blog
:0)

lmoh said...

My understanding about using bestsellers as comps is that you shouldn't go saying "My book is the next Harry Potter/Twilight/Da Vinci Code/Stephen King" (yes, Stephen King is a book ;P)... basically, saying you're going to be legendary. I don't know that The Historian is big enough that you need to avoid it, but maybe be specific about why you think it's comparable, or why it will appeal to the same readers.

Good luck! :)

Shayda Bakhshi said...

Ack, it's annoying--some query advice tells authors to give the agent a brief overview what kind of reader will enjoy their novel--via published novels.

Others say don't.

And for safety's sake, I'm in the DON'T camp. No matter how it's worded, when I read that kind of thing in a query (like on the Query Hell forum at AW), it comes off as cocky and too-big-for-your-britches. Even though I KNOW the author isn't trying to sound like that. It just does, to me.

So yeah. I don't.

Although SPITFIRE's basically the next HUNGER GAMES.

Lawl. ;)

Jen Daiker said...

I'm not one to compare my novels to things, though for certain ones I can relate it to a certain situation, the problem is that you want to stay unique but when you add a name of a novel, you take it away and give the agent/publisher something odd to look at, they now are trying to compare it to The Princess Diaries, when the only correalation of the two was that there was a cat named Fat Louie.

Bri said...

Though I also did this post, I don't think I'll compare my novel to others when I query. I do realize that some agents like it, but I can't shake the feeling that I'm being cocky if I do it. Plus, I'm not sure if the books I compare mine to are similar enough - or similar in the right ways, I should say - to warrant a comparison in a query.

Angelica R. Jackson said...

I know to have the comps ready in case I'm asked, but I also do believe they don't belong in the query (I was being a little sarcastic at the end of my post; thinking of some of Querypolitan's "advice" at the time).

Ghosts I Have Been is still the one I'd mostly likely use because I think it captures the spirit (sorry, couldn't resist) of my MC the best. The Historian is closer in time period, and therefore closer in some of the social mores and sensibilities. But since it's adult and on a different scale, it's definitely not an apples to apples. More like apple to watermelon.

Angelica R. Jackson said...

Had to go back and find an example of Querypolitan in case you're not familiar
http://querypolitan.blogspot.com/2010/06/50-query-tricks-are-you-brave-enough-to.html

Shayda Bakhshi said...

Haha, I figured you were. But I have very strong feelings about it--AND about the mixed messages, because you've got people who say one thing and then people who say the exact opposite. It's irksome.

*commiserates*

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