Dear Ms. Snark,
Let's say you're writing a novel (literary suspense) about, oh, let's say a professor of English who discovers a lost novel by Jane Austen. After writing about half of your first draft, you see an ad for a forthcoming literary suspense novel about...a professor of English who discovers a lost novel by Jane Austen. Your first instinct, of course, is to jump in front of a truck. After you settle down, though, you realize (please choose one):
a. It's not the end of the world--you scrap the thing and start a different novel the next day.
b. Plow ahead with your novel--chances are the guy who got there first won't have written a bestseller, and a year from now, when you're querying, most agents won't have heard of the thing. Besides, if one sold, another can sell!
c. Keep writing your novel, but make damn sure you can talk intelligently when you query about why it's different from that piece of Austen crap that came out last year.
d. Go ahead with that truck idea.
Well, as enchanting as the idea of watching you pancake yourself is, here are the options in order-first choice to last- c, b, a, d.