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Question about "comparable" stories


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Hello. Looking for advice from more experienced/knowledgeable authors. I've written a novel about a man who loses his faith but recovers it through the intervention of Christ who's returned in the person of a homeless man. The venues through which I'm pitching this work call for references to "comparable" novels. I've looked through works of Jerry Jenkins, Creston Mapes, Alton Gansky, Frank Peretti, etc, but can't find any that I'd say are "similar".

 

So I guess I have 2 questions:

1) Is it really important to reference "comparable" novels (when the query format asks for it)?

2) Anyone read anything along the lines of what I mention above? I'm sure there are stories out there about people who've lost & regained faith but I can't find any.

 

 

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Your premise reminded me of the movie The Perfect Stranger. Which was actually filmed here in town and the main character is a member of our church and local actor Jefferson Moore. The movie is from the book Dinner with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory. Hope this helps.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Dinner-Perfect-Stranger-Invitation-Considering/dp/0307730093/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=dinner+with+the+perfect+stranger&qid=1623342430&s=books&sr=1-1

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     Something comparable would be the former TV Series "Joan of Arcadia", in which a high school girls regularly meets with God, who disguises Himself in the form of different people.

     I've written a fan fiction short story based on the series, titled "Power in the Word".  It's posted here on christianwriters.com, in the Reading Room.  

    Power In The Word - The Reading Room - ChristianWriters.com

    

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2 hours ago, Pete B said:

1) Is it really important to reference "comparable" novels (when the query format asks for it)?

 

If they ask for it, you may start off with a bad impression if you don't provide it. You'll want to do everything they request, to the letter. (If they ask you to wash their cars, that's negotiable... 😀) What's likely going on is their marketing people will be checking the sales of the "comparable" works, to try to get a feel for the story's market, and how many competitors your book currently may have in that market. So comparing to a short story, or a movie or a series won't give them a comparable audience to work with.

 

2 hours ago, Pete B said:

2) Anyone read anything along the lines of what I mention above? I'm sure there are stories out there about people who've lost & regained faith but I can't find any.

 

Sometimes we forget what a powerful research tool Google can be. Coming up with a really good search string is more an art than a science. You might look for a story about restoring lost faith, divine intervention, and so on. You're probably going to want to search for a book that has the same audience, so if your story is about a family man, its audience may not overlap a romance reader audience, or a young adult one, f'rexample...

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My "experience" comes from all the work involved to learn how to write query letters and all the research I took to pick out agents I would have like to help hawk my story. So, don't consider me up there with published writers.

 

But, I skipped the comparison whenever I could. How helpful is it to say my story is like Maniac Magee and Watership Downs? The only time I used it was for the very few agents who insisted.

 

That said, I can give you something like it -- It's a Wonderful Life. 

And don't feel like you can only compare yourself to Christian writers. Fiction writers known for their Christian beliefs have only been around for 30-40 years? Fiction has been around for over 2000. We're just getting started.

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Not read The Shack (seems most reviews have acted like repellent to me), but wasn't it of a different manifestation who came to help? 

 

I like to know comparables so I'm not accused of plagiarism.  Mine has similarities to a blend of My Side of the Mountain, Hatchet and Where the Crawdads Sing, yet different enough it won't suffer such copying claims.

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19 hours ago, Spaulding said:

That said, I can give you something like it -- It's a Wonderful Life. 

This is all that popped into my mind.  The premise is popular with readers and the work you do to get it in their hands is worth your effort!

Yes, we are nice people! Stick around and you might get cookies or a cake! We do that to celebrate around here!

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Let me apologize in advance; please read this as if spoken in a tone that's trying to be realistic, but not harsh. I think we might be missing what the publishers want. We may be thinking of comparable as writers, rather than as a publisher, but we need to speak their language. We're not looking for some story that simply has something similar by way of plot elements.

 

They seem to be looking for a marketing comparison. Not only do they not want movies (unless we're pitching a movie script), and especially not old movies; they don't even want a hardcover if ours is likely to be a paperback. They want a very similar audience, in a very similar format, in a very similar genre that they can compare to estimate sales figures. Here are some guidelines from Penguin Random House, that may help clarify:

 

https://authornews.penguinrandomhouse.com/comp-titles-an-elevator-pitch-for-your-book/

 

Don't forget that we're not just answering random questions to make them stop bothering us with random questions. We're presenting a serious sales pitch, which has to be better than the hundreds (or thousands) of others they've seen lately. They want some very serious marketing information, and the marketing team will probably have a huge say in whether they want to pick up our book or not. If we can't give them sufficient info to make a decision, their decision may just be to pass...

 

I'm absolutely no expert on this; doing this sort of market research is somewhere between drudgery and excruciating for me. But I have spoken over the years to a number of agents and publisher's reps at writers conferences on this, and they expect us to put in some really serious work. They also mentioned that the books should be reasonably recent titles, as some interests can come and go in waves. Making sales estimates from comparable titles is iffy at best; we're absolutely not allowed to add any further variables to the equation...

 

They're making decisions between hundreds (or even thousands), of submissions; we need to be good enough to stand out. If our way of standing out is to resist providing the info they want or to do a sloppy job, well, there may be other authors who can use this as their way to stand out, when they really take the time. (We also get -- or lose -- points by how easy or hard we are to work with...)

 

Again, I apologize profusely if this sounds harsh. I just want to pass along the kind of emphasis I've gotten from people who actually make the decisions. They're in a tough business that I would never want as my "day job."

 

 

Edited by Wes B
Edited for clarity
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