STATUS: I’m feeling a little bummed. Everyone I know is going to be at World Fantasy in Austin this weekend and did I decide to go this year? Nope. Sigh. I went last year and loved it but the November timing just didn’t work for me. Next year…
What’s playing on the iPod right now? HAVE I TOLD YOU LATELY? by Van Morrison
I have to say that, in general, I really like when writers include in their queries what I call author comparables—which means a listing of a maybe two or three already published authors and their comparable books (as in same type of tone, same genre, same audience etc.)
It let’s me know that the writer has contemplated the market and where his or her book is going to sit on the shelves. Readers of these authors will also like what this new writer has to offer. It can be very savvy. It’s an instant context for the agent and hey, that never hurts.
But recently I got a query letter where the writer compared the work being pitched to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. Now it’s fine to say it’s similar in theme or in the same vein but this writer took it a step further wanted to show how the two differ.
Now this in itself isn’t a bad idea but the writer is now moving into risky territory. Why? Because sometimes it’s hard to talk about what is unique about your book without implying that it might be lacking in Neil’s. (And to even imply that your book might be “better” than Neil’s is pretty ballsy.) Not to mention, the agent might be thinking, “Yep, I know how these two will differ in a big way because how many people in the world can write as well as Mr. Gaiman. Don’t even go there.”
It can backfire.
I actually don’t think that was the query writer’s intent so I didn’t “read” it that way but it takes really careful phrasing in the comparison paragraph to not have it come off that way.
Just heads up that if you are using this approach in your query, proceed with a little caution.