Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday

Comps (market comparisons). To use or not to use, that is the question. Well, not really. The YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday question this week is: What are your comp books?

Overall, I'd love to say my books have a similar tone to Ally Carter, HEIST SOCIETY style, and Lauren Myracle in PEACE, LOVE AND BABY DUCKS.  
                                                                            Heist Society                Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks

In plots, I love to write about dating issues in general instead of romance as a means to an end (the protag getting the perfect guy/finding true love). In this, I aim toward Deb Caletti's work, like SECRET LIFE OF PRINCE CHARMING and Pamela Wells with THE HEARTBREAKERS.

                                                                            The Secret Life of Prince Charming                 The Heartbreakers

But the more important questions (IMO) are: Is it important to think about these things? And, should market comparisons be included in agent queries?

The first question is linked to the most important rule of writing, READ, READ, READ. Knowing what books are out there, especially in your genre, and knowing where/how your book does and doesn't fit will help you pitch it to others.  It can also help you avoid character/plot situations that are cliche already or quickly heading that way.

As for the query, I think the strongest thing market comparisons give you is a sense of professionalism. You're letting the potential agent know that you're aware the market is part of bookselling, and you know where your book could fit in that market.

Here are my market comparison lines (some of the books will date how long ago I started querying). I also like to use the market line to throw in something about the broad themes of the book.


               Similar to What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones and The Dating Diaries by Kristen Kemp, FROG KISSES AND NEAR MISSES delves into the dating jungle, where a girl may or may not get the guy, but she can still find herself.

Like Reality Chick by Lauren Barnholt and Thirty Guys in Thirty Days by Micol Ostow, ONE HUNDRED TO-DOS puts another new twist on being a freshman in college, but the list, combined with Liz’s vulnerability, gives the reader a broader view of campus life today.

Like How to be Popular, by Meg Cabot and Dairy Queen, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, SOCIAL DISORDER shows that you shouldn’t let a little thing like fitting in keep you from finding yourself.

               Combining the detective work of I’d Tell You I Love You, But then I’d Have to Kill You, by Ally Carter with the relationship insights of The Heartbreakers, by Pamela Wells, CHEATER BEATERS shows that solving the little mysteries in life can sometimes help you with the big ones.

Okay, in retrospect, some of these are a little cheesy (especially the repeated "finding yourself" thing), but I hope, in sharing them, you can get some ideas. 

Notice, ONE HUNDRED TO-DOS is the only one that implies that my book might be better than the others, and that is only in the breadth of the subject matter. I think bringing the theme into it keeps you from implying that your writing is better or even the same as the books mentioned.

What about you? To comp or not to comp? 

BTW, there's still time to enter a comment for the signed Mp3 CD audiobook of THE RED PYRAMID, by Rick Riordan (see previous post).


  1. I don't know about the comparing thing. Maybe I just like to think my story is different from everyone else's;-)

  2. Cinette- Every story is different, and every story has some familiar elements. Comps just help you explain where your story is coming from.

  3. It's amazing when I look at all these well-thought comp titles across the YA Highway spectrum today. Looks like I need to step up my game! :-O

  4. I like how you've written your comps. They give a good sense of how the novels you're talking about compare to your own without coming across as showing off. I'm learning a lot from this RTW :-)

  5. Comps can be good. As far as putting them in the query, it's hard to know. I've heard for and against. With yours, it seems like you have a very clear idea of where yours fit. I'd say if someone is as clear, go for it.

  6. RaShelle- You do have a good point about whether or not you have a clear fit. I'm writing a YA sci-fi now. Across the Universe will be out soon, but if I were having to query right now, I don't know what I'd compare it to.

  7. I don't usually use comp titles b/c I'm afraid of coming across presumptious or misleading. But I usually know in my head where my book would fit and how it's different.

  8. Laura- Yeah, I've been hearing a lot of people say that about not wanting to coming off as presumptuous. And in queries, it's probably safer to say nothing than to risk coming off that way.

    That's why I like to link my comps to the themes, which serves as an excuse to mention the themes of my book and makes me feel less presumptuous at the same time.