Mistake 56: Comparing Your Book to a Best-Selling Work

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit

Why this is a mistake: Some how-to-sell books and articles suggest that you compare your work to something that is easily recognizable and best-selling. I’m not saying that doing so is absolutely wrong, but I am suggesting that it’s dangerous and potentially self-defeating. Agents and editors may have an immediate gut reaction and think, “No, your book isn’t as good.” They are also going look for ways your work doesn’t measure up to the work you’re comparing it to. And they will find them, because, frankly, your work most likely isn’t going to be as good as the best-selling work. In addition, the best-selling book or author is already out there selling, so why do they need your book, which is supposedly just like it?

The solution:
Don’t directly compare your work. If you’re going to do this, perhaps say your work is in the vein of another book, and then explain how it is different. If you know that a particular agent or editor works with a particular author, and you can mention this, you will show you’ve done your homework. But compare in a way that shows how your work is different, not how your work is the same.

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