Choosing Author Comparisons

>> Thursday, March 18, 2010

My agent called a few days ago.

"The edits look good. We're ready to submit. Why don't you put together some author comps and email them to me today?"

My response: "Huh?"

Okay, I didn't really say it; I was thinking it. I actually offered something far more eloquent than that. Something smooth and sophisticated, like, "Uh, er, author comps? I don't know..." I cut myself off before what you're talking about came out of my mouth.

An unprepped speaker on literary topics I am not. At least not yet. But I'm learning fast.

Turns out that in preparation for pitching my book to editors, my agent needed a few things from me.

1) Author comps

Author comps, my agent so patiently explained, are comparisons of my work to other authors. The purpose is so editors know how they will market my work.

If an publishing house represents Tami Hoag and Sandra Brown, for example, and my agent walks in and says, "I've got an author who write romantic suspense with the intensity of Tami Hoag and the passion of Sandra Brown." they're going to know, immediately, how they would market that work. They'll have marketing plans, artists, editors, copy editors and publicists already on that road. They'll have tried and true methods.

My agent also suggested I pick certain parts of my writing to compare: not so much the firefighter heroes, but definitely the kick-ass heroines. She also mentioned heat level and of course genre. So, for example, I wouldn't align myself with erotica writers because my heat level is different. I wouldn't compare myself to an author whose heroines have a steep self-confidence arc because mine are right-off-the-griddle hot.

2) Book blurbs

This was a shocker. Book blurbs? Um, from who? The only people who've read my book are me, you and my crit partner. I'm an unknown. A babe in the woods. A nobody. What NYT or USA Today list author would want to read my book and blurb it even before it sells?

That sure seemed like an insurmountable task. I remained shell-shocked for half the day. When I thawed, I have to admit, I was a touch panicked. But, as she always does, my CP but everything into perspective and gave me the courage to take the right steps. Another writer friend, Kristina McMorris, who had already been down this road gave me some pointers.

Beyond belief, the same day I requested a blurb from a fresh, hot RS author who writes kick-ass heroines and hot, military heroes, she said yes! Thanks Stephanie! You're a gem! Seriously.

With my awe of the romance writing community reignited and hope for a few more generous offers to read my manuscript, I have learned a couple of valuable lessons today:

Lesson 1: cultivate your author friends early and choose wisely. The good ones will come through for you when you really need them.

Lesson 2: be prepared (i.e. hope, pray and work your ass off) so that one day you are in a position to either return the favor or Pay It Forward.


Elisabeth Naughton 9:00 AM  

You are such a rockstar. I can't wait to hold this book in my hands!

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