I requested a full proposal last week and noticed that it lacked the requisite title comps. Since this was a potentially impacted category, I wrote back to the author and told her I needed to see the title comps. Her reply?
“I have avoided reading competing titles, so I can’t give you any title comps.”
This writer has been living on Writer’s Island. She’s isolated herself in order to write her book – in the name of remaining “pure” and “untouched” by other books.
What this conveys to me
Right or wrong, this reason forces several thoughts to come to mind.
Confidence: she lacks confidence in her ability to write something fresh and new – and is afraid of being tainted by reading someone else’s work. This tells me I’m working with a new writer who hasn’t yet found her voice or her footing.
Lazy?: As much as I hate to even consider it, I’ve seen too many authors who didn’t bother reading their competition because they were simply too lazy to see what was currently on the marketplace. They believed their idea transcended everything else that’s already been written. My question is – how do they know?
Didn’t know any better: The author may not have any idea what a title comp is. This, of course, falls into the Clueless Category, which I’ve bleated about to ad nauseum.
I don’t read: Eeep. A non-reading author? And yes, I’ve heard it numerous times. I’m not sure if it’s hubris or inbreeding, but for the life of me, I can’t abide by anyone who thinks they can write, yet they don’t read.
This group scares me most of all because they are unaware that there actually IS competition. All I know is that they’re in for a startling education as they dip their toes into the query pond.
Many of us are big readers, and we’re drawn to write in the genre that we tend to read, right? Well, except for the beagle. She reads doggie porn, yet thinks her mystery/fantasy/romance novel about Glenda, the magic poodle will be a big hit. I’ve chosen not to delude her since she has a lot of filing to do. But I digress…
It’s not my job
Lastly, it’s not my job to do your job for you, and I get very cranky when someone can’t provide me with title comps. I don’t care about your reasons why you don’t have them – only that you don’t have them.
This is a business where sales happen because we understand the competition. If the author can’t explain how their writing compares and contrasts to that of their competition, then how can I possibly take them seriously?
A word to the wise: If an editor asks you for something, YOU SHOULD DO IT.
There are hundreds of authors who are prepared, and you don’t want to get left behind, do you?