Yes, but did you actually read the book?

kitteh with glassesI love it when queries include books from our own lineup – as in, “my book is reminiscent to Tornado Siren…” (a deliciously good book) I appreciate it because the author has taken her time to know our company and analyze the kinds of books we publish.

Or have they?

The trick is not blow their cover, meaning they didn’t really read the book and are merely using one of our books for suck-up points. They look at our front and backlist and throw a dart.

I had an author do this a couple weeks ago. He insisted that his book had the same kind of theme  as Barry Petersen’s riveting book, Jan’s Story.

That’s nice. Great, even.

Except one thing…

Barry’s book won’t be published until June 2010.

Whoopsie…Mr. Liar Liar Pantsonfire just exposed himself – which tempts the beagle to commence the cocktail hour at noon.

Lying is so unnecessary. Do I care if an author includes one of our books as a comp title? Not at all. If an author happened to read one of our books and discovered they shared some common elements, that’s great because it’s heartfelt and genuine. If you’re busted, though, anyone with a working brain cell will reject out of hand because no one wants to work with someone who would be willing to lie about something so silly.

Why bother reading a publisher’s books?

On the flip side, there was an author who had very obviously read one of our books. She went into detail about the conflict and the similar elements that comprised her book as well. You may not think that’s such a big deal, but it got my little black heart thinking about promotion. If I had two books that drew on the same key elements, I can successfully exploit that into all kinds of nice promotion.

If I’m busy reading, when do I query?

I agree that if authors stopped to read books from every editor they were interested in querying, they’d never achieve their goal. Quite silly, indeed. But for those who do read a few because the books are genuinely interesting to them, they are one step ahead of the author who zooms over editors’ email addresses with a power mower.

There are a ton of small trade presses who publish fabulous books. Because they are small, it’s important to know who you’re dealing with. If they have a book that looks good, read it. From this you’ll be able to tell about their editing and qualities of their stories.

I always say, a smart author is a well-researched author. If you tell an editor you read their book, then you better make sure you really did. Otherwise you could be viewing the world through the egg that’s on your face.

 

4 Responses to Yes, but did you actually read the book?

  1. Sarah says:

    Lynn, you’ve blogged some about Jan’s Story.

    Would it have been bad to say that I think my book might be like a soon to be released book based on how you blogged about it? (Hypothetical situation … I’m no relation to Pantsonfire.)

  2. Sarah: sure, I suppose it would be ok. It gives me a frame of reference.

    Thing about Jan’s Story is that it has some very controversial elements that I haven’t discussed because I’m waiting until we get closer to the release date – and we’re still editing it. And that was why I had to have this book. It has information that no other Early Onset Alzheimer’s book has.

    All people have at this point is whatever general information I’ve leaked out about it. So it isn’t as helpful and won’t make as big an impact to a pitch.

  3. Allen Parker says:

    From an author’s point of view, it isn’t a bad idea to read a book, blurb, or some sort of work from a publisher you wish to query. It tells you a little about the publisher you can’t learn otherwise, like how they edit, what their house rules are, and a few insights into what the company likes.

    AND, it will give you an insight on what is acceptable to the publisher. Reading a book that is substandard would be a clue as to how your book would be handled. it is kind of a win-win situation.

    I’ve come tot he conclusion the hardest part of writing is the choice of who to query. Finding a good fit is more important that finding a Big Eight publisher and a vanilla-covered world, especially if you like to wear chocolate pants.

  4. Chocolate? Did someone say chocolate?

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