Newer but less fitting comp or older but perfect comp

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LStein

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I'm putting the finishing touches on my submission package and I'm thinking of changing one comp.

Right now I have a 2021 comp that is perfect but my other comp (a 2020 novel) I'm realizing might not be the best comp. I found another book that's a better comp but it was published in 2016.

So, newer less perfect comp or older more perfect comp?

Thanks!
 
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lizmonster

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Given that the purpose of comps is nebulous at best, I'd go with your gut, whatever that says.

FWIW when I queried in 2019 I comped one from 2015 an one from 2014, with a bonus comp from 2011 on a Query Manager form. The query got me a 54% request rate.

(ETA some of those queries went out with pages, so I can't say the requests were purely from the query. Point is the comps I chose didn't hurt me.)

(ETA2: Query Manager, not QueryTracker!)
 
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Meg Wilson

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Can you share with us how you describe the comps? My impression is that comps that seem less than perfect can be fine if you spin them right, showing how it's similar but different.
 
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LStein

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Given that the purpose of comps is nebulous at best, I'd go with your gut, whatever that says.

FWIW when I queried in 2019 I comped one from 2015 an one from 2014, with a bonus comp from 2011 on a Query Manager form. The query got me a 54% request rate.

(ETA some of those queries went out with pages, so I can't say the requests were purely from the query. Point is the comps I chose didn't hurt me.)

(ETA2: Query Manager, not QueryTracker!)
Thanks! This doesn't help me decide but maybe implies that the recommendation that comps not be older than 3 years is more of a suggestion, rather than a hard and fast rule.
 
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LStein

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Can you share with us how you describe the comps? My impression is that comps that seem less than perfect can be fine if you spin them right, showing how it's similar but different.
Here's the relevant part of my query letter: similar in theme to “The Push” by Ashley Audrain with the complex friendship dynamics of Rufi Thorpe’s “The Knockout Queen.”

The Push is a great comp I think because, while the story differs, the underlying question in the novel is essentially the same. I'm reading the Knockout Queen right now (it's really really good) and while the novel does center a complex friendship, as mine does, the friendship itself is quite different, as is the tone. (The tone of my book is darker and a bit more cynical.)

I don't know if you can give advice based on this, but I'd love to hear any thoughts!

Eta: the book I'm thinking about comping instead is "Girls on Fire". I haven't read it yet but based on descriptions online, the friendship dynamics in it are more similar to my book. Though it is older and more commercial than The Knockout Queen. I liked pairing The Push with the latter because one is very commerical and the other is literary and I think my book falls in between.
 

Meg Wilson

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Here's the relevant part of my query letter: similar in theme to “The Push” by Ashley Audrain with the complex friendship dynamics of Rufi Thorpe’s “The Knockout Queen.”
I'm not an expert, but here are my thoughts:

Will the similarity of theme to The Push be clear to the agent? If so, you can just say "will appeal to readers of The Push" without mentioning the word "theme," which sounds vague. If you would have to say more, like [I am making this up] "deals with ambition and betrayal, like The Push," then maybe edit the body of your query so it's clearer? I don't know, maybe others have thoughts on whether to state your theme outright in a query letter.

As for the second comp, one approach is to compare your book to two books to highlight the differences as well as similarities. "It will appeal to readers who enjoy the complex friendship of The Knockout Queen, but with the darker tone of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies."
 
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LStein

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I'm not an expert, but here are my thoughts:

Will the similarity of theme to The Push be clear to the agent? If so, you can just say "will appeal to readers of The Push" without mentioning the word "theme," which sounds vague. If you would have to say more, like [I am making this up] "deals with ambition and betrayal, like The Push," then maybe edit the body of your query so it's clearer? I don't know, maybe others have thoughts on whether to state your theme outright in a query letter.

As for the second comp, one approach is to compare your book to two books to highlight the differences as well as similarities. "It will appeal to readers who enjoy the complex friendship of The Knockout Queen, but with the darker tone of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies."
Interesting ideas! Thank you!