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Comparisons in Queries

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#1 Mckayla

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Posted 04 February 2018 - 03:47 PM

Hi,

 

I'm writing my first query letter and wonder how to go about comparing it to other books. I read in that genre and have books I could compare mine to, but I read a lot of more obscure titles and authors. For example, my book is YA Fantasy and my protagonist has a very similar voice to that of the protagonist in Brandon Sanderson's YA series. Sanderson is a big author but not well known for his YA fiction. SHould I use the comparison anyway or should I try and find something more mainstream? Only I fear something more mainstream will come off as an insincere comparison as those aren't the books that tend to influence my own writing. 

 

Any and all advice on choosing proper comparison titles will be very much appreciated.

 

Cheers,

Mckayla



#2 lnloft

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Posted 04 February 2018 - 05:54 PM

Brandon Sanderson is mainstream, YA or not. You have to remember that you are querying to people who know the genre, so obscure is a relative term. If you are querying an agent who does fantasy YA, they should at least be aware of Brandon Sanderson's YA material, whether or not they've actually read it.

 

The general guidelines for comps I've put together from being on this site is that you want something relatively recent (think last three years or so), which shows that you are up-to-date on what is in NOW, and you want to avoid things that are super successful, because that indicates that you might have unreasonable expectations about how your book will do. So don't write that your story "has the epic scope of Lord of the Rings with the tone of Harry Potter".

 

The other important thing to remember is that comps are generally not a requirement. I have not included a comp in any of my queries, because I honestly can't think of anything appropriate, so I don't want to mislead an agent. If nothing truly feels right, then leave it out.

 

My final advice right now is to write your query draft with the comps that you think are best, and if they're inappropriate in some way, when you post your query for feedback on this site, people will let you know why they don't work. Comps can be a nice way of guiding agents a little at the end as to the nature of your story, but they're not likely to make or break you, so I say don't sweat too much on them right now, instead focusing on the core of the query.


Nothing to reciprocate on right now; I'm off in the query trenches.


#3 Mckayla

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Posted 04 February 2018 - 06:28 PM

Brandon Sanderson is mainstream, YA or not. You have to remember that you are querying to people who know the genre, so obscure is a relative term. If you are querying an agent who does fantasy YA, they should at least be aware of Brandon Sanderson's YA material, whether or not they've actually read it.

 

The general guidelines for comps I've put together from being on this site is that you want something relatively recent (think last three years or so), which shows that you are up-to-date on what is in NOW, and you want to avoid things that are super successful, because that indicates that you might have unreasonable expectations about how your book will do. So don't write that your story "has the epic scope of Lord of the Rings with the tone of Harry Potter".

 

The other important thing to remember is that comps are generally not a requirement. I have not included a comp in any of my queries, because I honestly can't think of anything appropriate, so I don't want to mislead an agent. If nothing truly feels right, then leave it out.

 

My final advice right now is to write your query draft with the comps that you think are best, and if they're inappropriate in some way, when you post your query for feedback on this site, people will let you know why they don't work. Comps can be a nice way of guiding agents a little at the end as to the nature of your story, but they're not likely to make or break you, so I say don't sweat too much on them right now, instead focusing on the core of the query.

Thank you for your advice. I originally didn't have any comparisons in my query but when I posted it here I was told it ought to have some so then I got worried about it. So comparisons in queries are not mandatory?



#4 NCruz

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Posted 04 February 2018 - 07:54 PM

Thank you for your advice. I originally didn't have any comparisons in my query but when I posted it here I was told it ought to have some so then I got worried about it. So comparisons in queries are not mandatory?

 

Comps aren't mandatory unless an agent requires them in a form.

 

General rules for a comp:

 

1) Published within last three years

2) No viewable adaptations (TV/movie); if the author has another book that has a viewable adaptation, all books are outliers

3) Nothing outrageously popular

 

There's a Twitter thread about comps, with different agents weighing in. I can't find it, but the gist is that agents have different tastes. Several agents said they really prefer comps. A few said they'd rather have no comps than mediocre comps. Someone said they only want book titles for comps, then another agent pitched in and said she likes video game comps. Someone said comps should be pub'd within the past five years. Another said the past three years. It really depends on the agent.

 

​highly â€‹recommend you make a Twitter and follow agents (if you haven't already). There is an abundance of agenting information, including critique giveaways (I won a spot in a workshop with an agent through a Twitter raffle!), #askagent sessions, #querytips, #MSWL, and so much more.







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