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October 20, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday: Who's In The Passenger Seat?

Kate Hart
I liked the idea of using comp titles in my queries, because I wanted to show that I had done my research. But finding the right titles is tricky. You can't claim to be the next mega-bestseller, and you don't want to choose something obscure. Instead, agent Kristin Nelson says not to compare yourself to other authors- just mention that your work will appeal to their fans.

But I was still stuck, so I asked for help. Kirsten read my first query draft for Refuge and immediately said, "What sets this apart from Beautiful Creatures?" To which I immediately said, "....Crap, there's another southern witches YA already?" and rushed out to buy it.

Eventually I ended up with this highly refined *cough* recipe for Refuge: Toss Beautiful Creatures (for the hook) into a blender with Shiver (for the style) and mix with Friday Night Lights and/or the movie "Varsity Blues" (for the good 'ole boy factor). Add "y'alls" to taste.

Photobucket My contemporary was a little easier. Once I finished After The Fall, I made a point of seeking out books I thought might be comps, and settled on Story of a Girl and Jumping Off Swings. But then Michelle S. read it and suggested Some Girls Are, both for style and because the main characters have a certain... shall we say, similarity in likeability or lack thereof.

Later, as I talked to agents, John Green's Looking For Alaska was also mentioned a lot, probably because they share a "before and after" format. And now my agent has added Sarah Dessen and Elizabeth Scott to the mix! *insert heart attack here*

Picking comp titles is hard, but it helped me focus my pitch... and it's a great excuse to buy new books. Come play along with Road Trip Wednesday at YA Highway, tell us the comp titles for your works in progress, and get suggestions for other great books to read!


  1. I must say, those picks make me want to read Refuge even more.

    SGA and LFA are dead-on for ATF (if I do say so myself!). And now I want to read SoaG and JoS.

    Also, I <3 acronyms.

  2. I want to read Refuge. Like, now. Please?

    I have no idea what mine would be. Maybe Cracked Up To Be and The Sky Is Everywhere and..oh, I dunno.

  3. Great post, thank you! I follow Kristin Nelson's blog, but had somehow missed that post. This is something I'd been struggling with. It felt completely conceited to conpare my work to the books I'd like to, but actually, what I really mean is 'this would appeal to fans of'. Perfect phrase, thank you! And now I'm off on my weekly road trip.

  4. I hadn't heard about JUMPING OFF SWINGS. Must get my hands on it!

  5. Based on your comparisons, your stories sound AWESOME! :) Now if I can only get my hands on them...

  6. nicely done.
    Looking forward to reading lots of y'alls.

  7. I agree that comps help you wrap your head around pitching a book.

  8. Ooh, love the comparisons. I have not heard of JUMPING OFF SWINGS either! Must read.

    And being compared to John Green and Courtney Summers? Yeah, no biggie. *eee!*

  9. Alicia, I've been reading some of your comments on these YA Highway posts, and I agree completely! I WISH I had my book figured out that well. Maybe I'll have to ask my betas for suggestions, too... And yes, Kate, it IS a great excuse for buying books!

  10. Awesome! It sounds like you really have yours figured out. I'd love to read REFUGE :-)

  11. Man. I was already dying to read Refuge, and then you have to compare it to Beautiful Creatures AND Shiver. And John Green and Sarah Dessen for After the Fall.

    I am kind of ridiculously excited about your novels right now.

  12. THAT'S why you told me to read BEAUTIFUL CREATURES! ;)


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