My Work is JUST like .....that novel you liked so much

Miss Snark,

Is it really a treacherous thing to compare your work to that of others? I've talked to a few heads of publishing companies, and a few published writers and have been told that you SHOULD compare your work to that of others.

If someone compares their work to another's, is that as grevious as, say, NOT sending an SASE?

Because I'm torn. If comparing myself to others, as I've been told to do, won't HURT my query's chances, then I'd rather hedge my bets and compare the voice of my work to The Rules of Attraction with a twist of I Know This Much Is True..

It's not as bad as failing to send an SASE cause I'll read it.

However, you run the risk of shooting yourself in the foot by saying "my work is like The Rules of Attraction" if the agent you're querying doesn't like that book at all.

I always suggest you say "readers who liked The Rules of Attraction" will like this because it's not a comparison. It's a signpost.

See the difference?

And mostly people who say "my book is like this other book" either didn't read the same edition I did, or aren't objective enoug about their writing to see why the comparison is ludicrous.

Avoid shooting yourself in the foot inadvertently if you possible can.


Karenee said...

My book is a great book, and I'll tell you why. You remember that book you read? That one you really liked?... the one you stayed up too late in order to finish the last chapter and kept looking at the last page wishing you knew what happened next? Well, my book is just like it!

Oh, it's different enough so it'll be publishable. I didn't rip off another author or anything, but well, it's JUST like it! It'll be easy to find an editor to publish it and you'll see. I'll make you millions!

What was the title of that book you liked, by the way? I need to make sure I have something like it under the bed, just in case you accept this idea via the email address I typed in italicized, bold script just so you'd notice it.

Oh, and my dwarf hamster ate the sample pages, so just email me when you get this and I'll send you the whole book once the other agent I sent it to returns it like I told them too.

Dhewco said...

I queried with the phrase...a cross between Ender's Game and Star Wars, with a little palace intrique to go with it.

That's not a comparison, is it?

Maybe it is, but at least I don't say it is 'like' them.