do and don't · query problems

The authors everyone comps

There are few rules for your comps (comparison novels/authors). The publication must be recent, reflecting the modern market. The author should not be too big of a name and the book should not be a #1 bestseller even your best friend’s husband has read.

That last a bit flexible. You can comp Neil Gaiman if your style or voice really is reminiscent of his, for instance. (Just have your other comp be someone smaller.) You do want someone people will recognize.

But you don’t want to (a) sound like you’re claiming to be a bestseller or (b) show you’ve only read a couple books.

Here are the authors everyone comps and needs to stop comping. In no particular order:

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien – for epic fantasy
  2. J.K. Rowling – for fantasy, YA, commercial…or just about anything
  3. Stephen King – for thrillers and horror
  4. Jim Butcher – for thrillers
  5. Terry Pratchett – for humor
  6. James Patterson – for thrillers
  7. Nora Roberts – for romance
  8. Douglas Adams – for humor and humorous sci-fi

Find something with a similar style or plot to yours. It’s fine if it’s popular. If you must comp one of the names above, make it so original I forget you’re breaking the rules.

One of my friends comps “gay Tolkien.” That’s pretty unique.

(Related: tons of queries say David Baldacci said he’d read an ARC. I assume that’s a form response and none of the authors have a personal relationship. Please stop mentioning this.)

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