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In searching for comparables, I found a book that has essentially the same story as the one I've written, only the 'comparable' is in rhyme, mine is not, and the main character is a female as opposed to a male. This other story is about 8 years old. What do I do? Do I mention it in my query? If so, how? Do I not bother querying my story?
#1 - October 24, 2022, 05:23 PM

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Eight years is a long time. It's possible this book isn't still in print. Google it to see who published it and see if you can find out how it's selling. They suggest using comps published within the past five years, so it would be old as a comp. You need a second comp that's newer to make it work.  If it is in print, I wouldn't sub to this agent, if there is one, or publisher. If this book isn't popular, it may not be a good comp. But if it's too popular, it's not  good comp either.

Now, think about the actual story. Do the same events happen or is it just the same type of story. There are plenty of stories about an ugly duckling or other misfit that doesn't seem to fit in until everyone sees something special about them. Other themes are pretty common too. As long as you have a unique spin on the tried and true, that's fine. But if you have the same actions, you may not be able to market this book both because of copyright and because the tried and true need freshening to sell. See if you can make your spin more unique.

Everything depends on how close this really is to your work. It's sales are less of a consideration though they can indicate the market for similar books. I hope this makes sense. 

#2 - October 24, 2022, 06:31 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

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Thanks Debbie. It is almost exactly the same story.
#3 - October 24, 2022, 07:27 PM

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Do query your ms! The other book is a comp book though, so I think it's good to name it in your query letter to give them a better idea of how your story fits into the market. Also state how your story is similar and different as you have done here. The comp book is very old, so naming it won't do your manuscript any harm.
#4 - October 24, 2022, 10:40 PM
Odd Bods: The World's Unusual Animals - Millbrook Press 2021
Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moths - CSIRO Pub. 2021

www.juliemurphybooks.com

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When listing comp books in a query I list successful books that are similar in theme, mood, genre, and target audience. For books that are about the same topic (very similar to mine) I give them a very short line discounting them--stating how mine is better. For example, if I'm querying a manuscript about a little known historical female from WWII, I'd list successful recent comp titles about historical women. If there's another book out there about the same person I'd say something like, "while another book on the subject was published in 2010, it was targeted for another age group and is now out of print." 
The point of comps isn't to list books exactly like yours to put you out of the running, but to show how yours could be successful just like a few other select titles that your target reader might read. I like to think of it as--if they like book A, they'd like my book too.
#5 - October 25, 2022, 06:28 AM
Rebecca Langston-George
www.rebeccalangston-george.com

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Thank you all for your comments. I'm just going to go ahead with my query, mentioning the similar book, and see what happens.
#6 - October 25, 2022, 12:29 PM

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For books that are about the same topic (very similar to mine) I give them a very short line discounting them--stating how mine is better.

This is a great strategy.
#7 - October 25, 2022, 06:44 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

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