I spent some time today researching books I’ve read to determine which are somewhat like the manuscript I’m finishing up this weekend. One is supposed to be able to speak intelligently about the market one’s writing falls into and, even better, which books one’s book is like. However, you’re not supposed to sound arrogant about your book. For example, you shouldn’t say your book resembles nothing so much as George Eliot’s Middlemarch, even if that truly is the one work your book most resembles.
I understand that. I come from the other side of the equation, the side where you’re sure your book is not even close to as good as anything out there that has actually sold, never mind the classics that you’re not supposed to compare your work to. (Don’t tell anyone I think that, though. You’re not supposed to lack self-confidence when you’re pitching your book.) And to compound the difficulty of this task I undertook today, I’ve been reading mysteries lately because that was what I was writing before this book sprung up in my mind and said I had to write it. So I had to go back and look through the books I’ve read less recently, mainly because my mind has become a sieve and if you ask me what I’m reading I can never tell you, even if I LOVE the book and can’t put it down.
Anyway, I came up with a couple of names. Joanna Trollope was the first, and the one I didn’t have to work too much to recall. And I recently read I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith, and think there might be some correlation (though this comes uncomfortably close to that “classic” category I’m trying to avoid). I want to mention Villette by Charlotte Brontë, but I know that probably won’t fly, even if what I want to say is that it inspired me, rather than implying that my writing resembles Brontë‘s.
It’s a learning process. I’m putting the pieces together, working to build a package that is cohesive and easy to understand. Writing the book is just the beginning, really.