I 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.