|Mirror, mirror, what do you see?|
I think I look like Harry P.
The notion of "comparables," in pub biz parlance -- those (preferably bestselling, famous) books that are enough like yours, but not too much like, has been occupying me lately, and also occupying both of my crit partners. One partner's agent asked her for a list of comparables, and she had a hard time thinking of any. The other, who is in the process of querying, is worried that her novel is too much like another (bestselling, famous) one with a similar subject -- so her job is to set it apart. In literature, of course, there's nothing new under the sun, and there's not a thing wrong with that. But the notion of comparables when it comes to marketing is particularly slippery -- because what, precisely, are we comparing?
|Could be like my book?|
Should be like my book?
When I was helping one of my crit partners look for comparables, I found stories that shared some of her themes, but not her settings or storyline. And researching comparables for my own book (science fantasy), I found lots of books that had ecological themes, or super bright kids, but few of them were in my genre.
And it's an important subject to think about, because you may want to include comparables in your query (some agents like to see this, some don't care), and you'll probably want to mention comps if you're pitching verbally at a conference. So, fellow novelists and aspiring novelists -- how much do you think your WIP shares with other books out there? Is it something you're conscious of, or something you've put off thinking about? Asked to come up with "three books off the top of your head," like Amy Boggs, could you do it?