- Use Wild by Cheryl Strayed as one of your book comps.
- Tell an editor that your book will “sell itself.”
- Insist that “My perspective is unique.”
These statements want to make me mainline Drano.
“It’s just like Wild!”
No it isn’t, so please don’t say this or use huge bestsellers.The reason we ask for title comparisons is so we know how to position your book. Wild is an international bestseller that has sold a gajillion copies. It would be lovely if your book enjoys equal success, but it’s unlikely. Title comps are meant to be realistic representations of your book and how your particular subject matter would sell in the marketplace – not stand-outs like Wild. This means you would choose a title that is closely aligned with your story in subject matter.
The more insightful stuff you send, the clearer the picture is for us. And we love clear.
“My book will sell itself!”
No it won’t. There are countless hours and bundles of money that go into selling a book, so this kind of statement makes my teeth itch. Endless promotion is done by your publisher and their marketing / sales teams in order to make readers aware that your book exists. This is not a case of “If you write it, they will come.” They won’t. We have to do a buttload of work to get readers to come to the trough.
Never, never, never say this…unless the intent is to watch an editor spontaneously combust – which could have its own amusement factor…
“My perspective is unique!”
This sentence usually sends me running for my vapors because it’s such a generalized piece of fluff. It doesn’t say anything of value. If your perspective is truly unique, then you better be prepared to defend that in a manner that won’t make me throw good glassware. And you defend this by being extremely well-read in your subject matter.
For example, if you’re writing about a loved one having bipolar disorder, then your viewpoint won’t be unique because there are a million books on bipolar disorder whose perspectives are from a family member – usually a parent. However, if you’ve noticed that nearly all biopolar books have a “grit your teeth” mentality, then a unique perspective would be to highlight how your story sheds a positive light that allows for grace and humility and gratitude…such as Mommy, I’m Still In Here by Kate McLaughlin.
In order to differentiate yourself from books that are already in the marketplace, there has to be some unique element that’s big enough to where we can capitalize on it and make it a selling point…and for that we need specifics from you…which means you need to be well-versed in your competition.
So there you have it; yet another easy way to send an editor off to the Funny Farm for a month-long stay.