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maestrowork
09-18-2007, 06:29 PM
What is your reply if you mention your book, the plot, etc. and someone says, "Oh, it sounds just like XYZ; So-and-so has already written it and it was a bestseller..."? Worse, what if that's an agent saying that?

How would you convince them that your book is a) different, b) better or c) there is room for more books on the same topic with different treatments?

Will Lavender
09-18-2007, 06:38 PM
I get this all the time, mostly from people who haven't read the book.

Just Friday, the agent Daniel Lazar sent my editor an e-mail saying that my book sounded a lot like a plot element on the Showtime comedy Weeds. (I don't have Showtime.)

A relative of mine, when I explained it to her, said, "Oooh, that sounds just like a Bon Jovi movie called Lone Wolf." (Never seen it.)

A person online said, "That sounds like an episode of Veronica Mars." (I'd never heard of it at that time.)

And so on.

What do I say? I don't say anything except, "Wow." There is NO WAY that these things are like what I wrote; perhaps they have elements that are similar, but I believe in the originality of my idea. If a person began to read, then he would lose the original frame of reference within the first five pages.

I guess that's a "Believe in the work, no matter what" kind of response.

sunna
09-18-2007, 06:54 PM
Bon Jovi movie??? I've apparently been in a cave for the past few years.

I've only gotten that once so far, sadly from an agent. "I really enjoyed reading your partial, and I have no doubt your book will find a home. [MC] is a very engaging character. However I have come across several similar plots lately, and I don't feel that this is fresh and original..." :cry::cry:

I suppose if I had the option of rebuttal, I'd say that a) lots of the books I see on the shelves could be classified as variations on a theme, and I don't enjoy them any less for it as long as the variation is well done (which of course mine is :D), and b) keep reading, mine's different, mine's different!

I guess I don't really get that chance with an agent, though.

*sigh*

Celia Cyanide
09-18-2007, 06:55 PM
I think it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with that material, if you haven't already, and then you can have a better idea of the similarities and differences.

KTC
09-18-2007, 06:55 PM
I just say shut up.

Manat
09-18-2007, 07:01 PM
[quote=maestrowork;1646900]What is your reply if you mention your book, the plot, etc. and someone says, "Oh, it sounds just like XYZ; So-and-so has already written it and it was a bestseller..."? Worse, what if that's an agent saying that?

How about "Yeah I know! Isn't that great! Looks like the timing is perfect. I'm thinking we're just catching the crest of what's going to be a long and lovely wave. Of course so and so didn't do this...

BenPanced
09-18-2007, 07:19 PM
I just say shut up.
Especially if they can't say "written" correctly.

maestrowork
09-18-2007, 07:23 PM
Especially if they can't say "written" correctly.

Oh shut up.

KTC
09-18-2007, 07:36 PM
I prefer writed. Ray...that wig is wack.

Sassee
09-18-2007, 07:50 PM
What is your reply if you mention your book, the plot, etc. and someone says, "Oh, it sounds just like XYZ; So-and-so has already written it and it was a bestseller..."? Worse, what if that's an agent saying that?

How would you convince them that your book is a) different, b) better or c) there is room for more books on the same topic with different treatments?

No experience with agents. Can't tell ya what I'd say because I've never been in the situation, though I would probably point out the current success of urban fantasy and mention that werewolves aren't going out of style yet in either fantasy or romance genres (not that I can tell, anyway).

If a non agent person ever says that I'd just say "it's not the same, trust me." Haven't had anyone ask me that yet, though.

Anonymisty
09-18-2007, 07:59 PM
I prefer writed.

Or, as they say here in the Upstate..."done writ."

:D

maestrowork
09-18-2007, 08:03 PM
I prefer writed. Ray...that wig is wack.

Is it a fro or you're just going through a Cher day?

melaniehoo
09-18-2007, 08:07 PM
I'd go with the 'sound like it's a good sell right now' idea. I only started working on my wip two months ago & the first writer-friend I told said "Oh, Nathan Bradsford just got a book published that sounds JUST like your story!" Last time I checked it's the first book posted on his blog. From the description I can tell there are differences, so I'll have to pitch mine that people are interested in this type of story. I do plan to read it just to make sure.

KTC
09-18-2007, 08:08 PM
Is it a fro or you're just going through a Cher day?


a bit of both, I suppose.

PeeDee
09-18-2007, 08:13 PM
No one ever says that to me, a'cuz my ideas are all unique and special. Of course. Silly.

maestrowork
09-18-2007, 08:14 PM
Let me ask this: If someone (especially an agent) tells you "it sounds just like this," would you go out and check out that book, and then tailor your query accordingly? And if so, how?

melaniehoo
09-18-2007, 08:18 PM
Let me ask this: If someone (especially an agent) tells you "it sounds just like this," would you go out and check out that book, and then tailor your query accordingly? And if so, how?

I feel silly answering you since you are published and I am not, but I've read advice stating that you can address that your stories are similar but show how yours stands out, differs, etc. I've looked into this because of the book I referenced in my last post.

If the other book is successful, use that towards explaining why yours will also succeed (but not riding it's coattails), and if not, showing how yours improves upon the idea. This seems particulary true if the person you're querying is familiar with said work.

maestrowork
09-18-2007, 08:20 PM
What I mean is, do we have to read these other books in order to understand how our stories are different, and then make sure we sell those points? Or do we just say, "Who cares? Every book is different anyway -- I don't have the time to research every book that sounds similar to mine"?

melaniehoo
09-18-2007, 08:25 PM
I would only look into the other book if an agent tells you it sounds just like another. You can choose whether or not to address it, but it's probably better to be prepared to defend your case rather than dismissing it altogether. That being said, I wouldn't read EVERY book that might have a similar description.

WordGypsy
09-18-2007, 08:45 PM
Answer: "Wow really?! I hadn't heard that before. None of my beta readers brought it up. Let me know what you think at the end of it..." *hands over manuscript :)

donroc
09-18-2007, 08:49 PM
Someone wrote Moby Dick and then Jaws and then ......

www.donaldmichaelplatt.com

Monkey
09-18-2007, 09:01 PM
I haven't had this happen, yet, but I think that it would be wise to read the other book so that you could alter your pitch.

On the other hand, I've had something sort of similar happen, and I chose the path of least resistance. I wrote a short story about a young girl and her demon, and named it "Personal Demons". I figured such a snappy name would be already taken, and go figure, it was. But I didn't change it. I liked it too much. Besides, I submitted it with "Personal Demons" as the working title, and it was accepted without change.

So on one hand, I would think it best to do some research and alter the pitch.
On the other, it's easier not to.

:D

KTC
09-18-2007, 09:11 PM
Someone wrote Moby Dick and then Jaws and then ...... GI Joe is swimmin' in the water...

Siddow
09-18-2007, 09:15 PM
I want a fro.

maestrowork
09-18-2007, 09:16 PM
Kevin is the fro king yo shizzle.

Irysangel
09-18-2007, 09:16 PM
I'd retailor my queries to reflect that you already know there is a market for XYZ, as shown by the strong sales of the other books and give examples. Also, I'd do a bit of cursory reading just to find out how my book was different and point that out.

Everyone keeps telling me that my book sounds just like Jackie Kessler's (or alternately, Richelle Mead's). I point out that while both books feature a succubus, mine is more like the polar opposite of Jackie's, and go into detail as to why. It usually stops the argument. :)

Foinah
09-18-2007, 09:22 PM
I'm waiting on an answer right now for my submission.
In the last couple of weeks I have been reading a lot...book after to book to numb my brain ;)

I read a bunch of Graham Masterson's stuff and my heart was in my throat! I had never read his stuff before and was horrified that there were similar elements in his books. I panicked -- what if the publisher thought it was too similar? what if? WHAT IF??? Nothing is exactly the same, really not even close but in my delirium I thought it might be.

But see, I'd never read him before I wrote the novel.

What you are positing has happened to a lot of writers. It's frustrating to hear "oh...that sounds just like..." from someone's mouth who might not know their arse from the elbow.

Will Lavender
09-18-2007, 09:26 PM
I'd retailor my queries to reflect that you already know there is a market for XYZ, as shown by the strong sales of the other books and give examples. Also, I'd do a bit of cursory reading just to find out how my book was different and point that out.

I'd tailor the queries, yes, but I'd be very careful. Publishers are looking for a kind of new sameness. They want your book, I think, to be similar to something that's on the market -- but not too similar.

This is why the "It's the next Da Vinci code!"-type pitches don't work. That wave has been over for quite some time. If I were going to compare my work to something, I'd look at a book that's big but not colossal. In this way, a publisher/agent might be able to see that you've got a commercial aim for your book but aren't aping anyone.

I compared my book not to a book, but a film: David Fincher's The Game. This seemed to work well, because the film was not such an obvious comparison and because everyone seemed to go, "Oh yeah, I loved that movie," when I pitched it that way.

So: perhaps an innovative, off-beat comparison might work, Ray?

Oberon
09-18-2007, 09:34 PM
I have a novel on the rejection circuit about a woman trying to deal with multiple personalities. My wife says, "It's Three Faces of Eve all over again, they won't want it. Well, it's not Three Faces of Eve, if any agent ever wants to read it. And isn't Three Faces long gone into antiquity?

Sassee
09-18-2007, 09:34 PM
I haven't had anyone point it out for me, but I discovered it for myself - my "original" premise was already done by Kelley Armstrong. Panicked at the thought that my story was already written by someone else, I rushed out and bought "Bitten."

And I'm very proud to say that our two stories are nothing alike. In fact, the only thing that's similar is that both of our main characters are lone female werewolves (and by lone, I mean there are no other female werewolves). Even the cause for this uniqueness is completely different between our two stories. So, I feel comfortable enough to keep writing it, and if anyone asks, I'll probably tell them to market it to Kelley's audience as a similar story with a different twist. Hell, I might even hunt down Kelley for a recommendation!

Of course, that's all assuming I ever finish this damned thing, and then muster up the courage to query it.

BenPanced
09-18-2007, 10:14 PM
Kevin is the fro king yo shizzle.
I thought that sort of language wasn't permitted! (rulemongerrulemongerrulemongerrulemonger...)

ccarver30
09-21-2007, 12:33 AM
I write historical romance and guess what: THEY END UP TOGETHER! http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u117/moontower07/yippee.gif

Marlys
09-21-2007, 01:35 AM
I write historical romance and guess what: THEY END UP TOGETHER! http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u117/moontower07/yippee.gif
Dangit--me too! One of us obviously has to quit.

Plus, you've just goaded me into giving away the end of my WIP.

Pamster
09-21-2007, 09:06 PM
I would probably do as others mentioned and read a little of the book claimed to be like mine just so I could despite it and have a stronger case for why mine is not like that said book. Good topic Ray. :) :D

Karen Junker
09-21-2007, 10:42 PM
I have a novel on the rejection circuit about a woman trying to deal with multiple personalities. My wife says, "It's Three Faces of Eve all over again, they won't want it. Well, it's not Three Faces of Eve, if any agent ever wants to read it. And isn't Three Faces long gone into antiquity?

Hee! There are a few novels out there with this premise. Try reading Set This House in Order by Matt Ruff. He's being called the new Thomas Pynchon...