Comparables: Where Does Your Book Fit In?

Not too long ago dgkayewriter  posted on her noteworthy blog a link to the app (I Write Like) which, when you paste a paragraph of your writing, the app compares you to famous writers by analyzing your word choice and writing style.

That amusing exercise got me thinking of comparables. Whether you are writing non-fiction or fiction, self-publishing or going the tradition route, comparables (comps) help the reader and book seller know where your book fits in. Knowing your comps will help you know where your niche is in the marketplace.

Where would your book be placed in a book store or library and within that category whose books would you compare yours to?

Michael Dellert, an award winning writer, editor, publishing consultant, and writing coach with a publishing career spanning 18 years posted an interesting article on comparables.

What makes YOUR book stand out?

Publishers and agents generally want to see “comparables”: other fiction books on the market today that have an audience comparable to yours, that have themes, settings, and characters comparable to yours, that have a market niche comparable to yours, and then they want to know what sets your book apart from those.

Editor Rachelle Gardner in a post titled Know Your Competition adresses the question of comps:

Search for possible competitive or comparable books using a variety of means; don’t limit yourself to one particular search term or one method. Go deeper than the titles to make sure you’re not missing anything. Search on various websites besides Amazon. If you’re writing a Christian book, use Christianbook.com.

And in another article on comps Rachel Gardener offers this advice:

Ask yourself, “Who are my readers? What are they reading right now?” Those are your comparable books.

Keep this line in mind:
“People who enjoy the following books are likely to enjoy my book.”

You can use that line in a proposal, then follow it with the comparable books, and for each one, a brief explanation of why your book would appeal to those same readers. This approach frees you from trying to decipher what an agent is looking for, and instead, use those comps to identify your audience.

It’s tricky finding comparables. For example, in my crime novel Warning Signs the protagonist finds herself in a relationship with a serial killer. The detective investigating the serial killer’s crimes has a romance going with a suspect. Taking those two important elements of the novel do I compare my novel with those which have serial killers in them or do I compare it to stories about romance? Warning Signs also deals with mental illness so should I compare the novel with other novels dealing with mental illness? Or do I compare it to a noir novel?

Here are some comps I found for Warning Signs. People who enjoyed these books are likely to enjoy Warning Signs.

The Perfect Husband by Lisa Gardner (What would you do if the man of your dreams hides the soul of a killer?).

The Last Victim by Karen Robards ( Obsessed with learning what makes human monsters commit terrible crimes).

A Good Marriage by Stephen King (a wife who discovers that her husband is a serial killer). Incidentally, when I took the I Write like Who the result was Stephen King.

The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thomson (a pitch-black glimpse into the mind of the American Serial Killer).

The Lies He Told Me by Sylvie Greyson (a police detective falls in love with his main suspect).

The Fix by Sharon Leder (Living with a Heroin Addicted Parent).

 

Warning Signs is now available in paperback as well as e-book.

Blogger Recognition Award

 

Blogger recognition award

Award Plaque by Sally Cronin

Thank you to D.G. Kaye at dgkayewriter  for nominating me for the Blogger Recognition Award.

With each award there are rules of courtesy to follow. Here are the rules:

Rules:

1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
2. Write a post to show your award.
3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
5. Select up to fifteen bloggers you want to give this award to.
6. Comment (or pingback) on each blog to let them know that you’ve nominated them and provide a link to the post you’ve created.

How my blog got started

This was one of my first posts on a blog I named A Girl Called Brenda.

Posted on July 24, 2010

Writer: A Profession Like No Other

Brenda had just completed all the revisions on her novel. She’d been working steadily on it for three and a half years and now it was finished. She had sent her synopsis to a publishing house and the editor now asked to see her manuscript. She felt elated.
The next morning her sister called. “I’m having a bar-b-q for the family,” she said. “Do you want to come?”
“Guess what?” Brenda said, “I’ve finished my novel.”

“That’s nice,” her sister said. “What do you want to bring?”
“I’ve got a publisher and I’m sending it this morning to the editor.”
“Bring potato salad. Our mother’s recipe.”
At the bar-b-q Brenda placed her potato salad on the table and took off the plastic wrap over it. Her aunt who was standing next to her said, “How have you been, dear?’
“I’ve just sent out a manuscript to a publisher.”
“It’s nice to have a hobby,” her aunt said. “Your potato salad looks good. Is that your mother’s recipe?”
Then a cousin whom she hadn’t seen in a long time spotted her. “Hey,” he said, “How it do, Brendy? Long time no see.”
There were reasons for that, Brenda thought but was keeping them to herself. No sense ruining her sister’s bar-b-q. “Yeah, well, I’ve been busy writing my crime novel. I sent it out yesterday.”
“No shit, Sherlock. I always thought I could write a novel. Can’t be too difficult. I’ve got a few crazy tales up here myself,” he said pointing to his head.
“I bet,” Brenda said. “Excuse me,” she told her cousin, “I have to talk to grandma.”
“I heard you say that you finished your manuscript,” her grandmother told her.
At last, someone in her family was taking an interest in her writing.
“I did, grandma,” Brenda said glowing. “Three and a half years and I finally sent it out.”
“Oh my, how many pages is it?” her grandmother asked her.
“Five hundred and thirty,” Brenda said. “Double spaced.”
Her grandmother’s face lit up. “Do you have any ruined sheets?”
“What do you mean?”
“I just thought that maybe if you had any extra pages that didn’t come out you can give them to me to line my budgie’s cage. Newspaper is so messy.”

It was also on this blog that I posted my Ten Great First Dates series which I eventually migrated to my current blog and shut down A Girl Called Brenda.

Two pieces of advice for new bloggers:

  1. Check out all the WordPress Tutorials for beginners on YouTube. There’s lots of easy to follow advice.
  2.  Remember that you are not the only one who bloggers are reading so be efficient. Avoid Anna Karenina length posts on your blog. Short and sweet is better than seemingly endless.

I’ve chosen to nominate some new bloggers I’ve discovered whose blogs are inspiring, positive and beautiful.

Lost in Nowhere  

Pups&Prose

Site Title: Pictures

Show Pictures  

Ideal Inspiration

Aria-Bela Rises  

Debby

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/signote/