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selkn.asrai
01-09-2009, 06:29 PM
Sources, of course, clash on this.

Would you recommend comparing your book to published works in a query letter?

I can certainly see the merit in such a thing--foresight, saleability, subject matter--but I can also see the negative aspects, such as inviting the agent or reader to disagree with your assessment, the subjectivity of their preferences, etc.

Thoughts? I greatly appreciate the opinions.

PS No "SYW" invites yet, please. My query's not yet complete. :Shrug:

kathleen_grant
01-09-2009, 06:45 PM
Certainly! It's almost recommended you do. If an idea similar to yours has made it as far as becoming published and even becoming a bestseller, that shows agents/editors that your idea has potential to sell.

As long as you're not totally ripping off the plot line in anyway--I say go for it.

Happy querying! :)

Palmfrond
01-09-2009, 07:07 PM
Authorities here on AW undoubtedly disagree on this point, but I don't think that saying your book is the next "Twilight" is likely to make a good impression. I think you need to give the agent a hook and a clear idea of the genre without sounding arrogant.

Toothpaste
01-09-2009, 07:26 PM
It's a small difference but saying, "My book is as great as Twilight" comes across as hubris. However "My book will appeal to the same audiences who enjoyed Twilight, etc" sounds like you understand your market.

ChaosTitan
01-09-2009, 07:35 PM
A better way to word it is "My book will appeal to fans of Laurel K. Hamilton/Stephen King/Stephanie Meyer/Whomever." If you've done your homework, it gives the agent a specific idea of who your target audience is.

waylander
01-09-2009, 08:01 PM
What Toothpaste and CT said

ORION
01-09-2009, 08:51 PM
I described my novel as "Forrest Gump wins Powerball"
something like that gives an agent an idea and like toothpaste said using a line like "it will appeal to readers of X"
But don't say your book will be the next Harry Potter or DaVinci Code...

Richard White
01-09-2009, 09:28 PM
One of my friends worked up a quick "tag line" he uses for promoting/describing his first book (co-written with a young lady from Singapore).

It's a fantasy where a privateer from the age of Henry the Eighth goes through a portal entering a realm that draws heavily on Malaysian/Southeast Asian cultures. He sums up the book in one line, calling it "Lord of the Rings meets Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon".

The historical novel I'm developing for my MFA program (hopefully - I will find out in about six weeks), is set in Monaco in 1940. My tag line for it was "Casablanca meets Shindler's List".

Neither Tee or I are claiming our stories are "the next" version of those movies. It's just a little shorthand to point out the feel of the story as well as the audience that might enjoy it.

Obviously, I'm taking a bit of a chance because you might hate Casablanca, but anytime you try to condense a story into four to eight words, that's a risk.

Irysangel
01-09-2009, 09:34 PM
I've heard that some agents don't like it when movies are the comparison, since they're two different mediums.

I compared my books to other authors with similar writing styles, not specific books, and it worked well for me. I'd avoid the biggest name authors (Meyer, Dan Brown) because I think there's an automatic knee-jerk reaction to something like that. If you think Meyer's audience will be your audience, I'd probably go with a less well-known but still successful author.

Toothpaste
01-09-2009, 09:50 PM
This is what I wrote into my query letter for what it's worth:

"I am seeking representation for my children’s adventure novel, Alex_and_The_Ironic_Gentleman, complete at 90,000 words, with plans for a sequel. It is aimed at the 8 to 12-year-old market, but, like the Lemony Snicket novels, is also marketable to adults who enjoy children’s literature."

badducky
01-10-2009, 02:50 AM
Most people I've met inside the industry say that the query letter is there to prove you are not crazy. It is the last thing they read, and they only get to it if they liked the writing sample and the larger synopsis.

Thus, your goal is to be clean, simple, professional and clearly not crazy.

Frankly, I doubt this concern actually matters either way.

RJK
01-14-2009, 08:35 PM
I just discussed this in another thread. In Noah Lukeman's How to Write a Great Query Letter he practically insists that you compare your book to one that your prospective agent has represented.

My question was how do you find the matching book. I've been searching for days, and cannot find a match for my Crime/Suspense novel. The agents note that they are interested in this genre, but the books they've repped are anything but.
The obvious ones, the agents for Connelly, Sandford, Kellerman, Patterson, Parker, etc. aren't accepting any unsolicited queries.

SteveCordero
01-14-2009, 08:46 PM
It's a small difference but saying, "My book is as great as Twilight" comes across as hubris. However "My book will appeal to the same audiences who enjoyed Twilight, etc" sounds like you understand your market.

Perfectly put. That's the best way to compare.

Kathleen42
01-14-2009, 08:57 PM
I just discussed this in another thread. In Noah Lukeman's How to Write a Great Query Letter he practically insists that you compare your book to one that your prospective agent has represented.

My question was how do you find the matching book. I've been searching for days, and cannot find a match for my Crime/Suspense novel. The agents note that they are interested in this genre, but the books they've repped are anything but.
The obvious ones, the agents for Connelly, Sandford, Kellerman, Patterson, Parker, etc. aren't accepting any unsolicited queries.

To be honest? It's great advice but I don't think it's always possible. Of the agents I currently have on my tier one list, only a third have represented authors or sold books which deal with somewhat similar themes or subjects.

The best thing you can do, imo, is do your homework (Agent Query, Google Books, etc) on the agents you choose to query and personalize your query as much as possible.

Irysangel
01-14-2009, 11:03 PM
To be honest? It's great advice but I don't think it's always possible. Of the agents I currently have on my tier one list, only a third have represented authors or sold books which deal with somewhat similar themes or subjects.


I'm sorry to be blunt, but if they haven't sold anything similar to yours, why are they on your Tier 1?

Kathleen42
01-15-2009, 12:19 AM
I'm sorry to be blunt, but if they haven't sold anything similar to yours, why are they on your Tier 1?

Because there just aren't that many books which center on a fat protagonist and a plot line that deals heavily with weight. I can find agents who have sold chick lit and books targeting a female audience but being able to reference a specific book an agent has sold and say "based on your representation of X I am sending you Y" is pretty difficult.

Irysangel
01-15-2009, 01:06 AM
I think we're talking about apples and oranges. :) Or at least I am, heh.

You want someone that sells a lot of books in your particular market/genre. Yours sounds like women's fiction or chick lit (however dastardly that phrase may be). Look for agents that sell commercial or women's or even mention the dreaded 'chick lit'.

You don't have to look for someone that sold other Vampire YA books to have someone sell your Vampire YA. Sometimes it's not a good idea at all because if the agent has a project extremely similar to yours already out on the market or shopping to editors, they won't take yours on and give the other author competition. The best thing to look for here is similar but different.

I actually went with my agent because she had sold a few books with a similar voice to mine and to editors that I knew represented the same category my book fell into.

YMMV of course. But looking for someone that sold something of a specific fiction topic is a total crapshoot, IMO. Yours could be light and funny and the other book could be dark and emo, and the agent would be totally wrong for you, no matter what the sales showed.

Kathleen42
01-15-2009, 02:53 AM
I think we're talking about apples and oranges. :) Or at least I am, heh.

You want someone that sells a lot of books in your particular market/genre. Yours sounds like women's fiction or chick lit (however dastardly that phrase may be). Look for agents that sell commercial or women's or even mention the dreaded 'chick lit'.



Oh! Completely agree! I thought, from the RJK's post, that he was talking about mentioning a specific book that the agent had represented.

That's something I've found is sometimes impossible to do without it seeming forced and out of place, though I always do try to include information about why I am contacting the agency and why I feel my book would be of interest to them.

ORION
01-15-2009, 07:09 AM
"plot line that deals heavily with weight."
Ha Ha Ha Ha sorry that really made me laugh...deals HEAVILY with weight...

RJK
01-15-2009, 07:47 PM
I'd just like to find a few agents that have sucsessfully repped Crime/Suspense novels (not crime/romance, not crime/paranormal, not crime/vampires, not crime/historical fiction, etc.), and are still accepting unsolicited queries.
Most of the ones I've found, the books have an Amazon rating above 250,000 and the book was released 4 years ago. I can't even be sure the agent is still repping the author.

Sorry for the rant.

ETA: shame on you Orion. That was a low blow:tongue

Kathleen42
01-15-2009, 07:56 PM
ETA: shame on you Orion. That was a low blow:tongue

Nah. I was being cheeky when I wrote it. Glad someone got the joke.