Comparative Titles

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    Zachary Holbrook

    Recently, I listened to an episode the Writing Excuses podcast on the use of describing your book in terms of other stories. Normally, when I see books advertised this way, I think of them as cheap knock-offs, so I was intrigued to hear that comparative titles are most valuable in pitching your book to publishers instead of readers. A publisher wants to know what the audience for your book is; if you introduce it as ‘such-and-such a story meets this other story’, you’re saying that your potential fanbase lies where the fanbases for both those stories overlap.

    I tried coming up with comparative titles for my stories. None of the ones I thought of for individual books sounded right, but I think ‘Brandon Sanderson’s cosmere meets Narnia’ is a good fit for my fictional universe, the Domidium. Sanderson and Lewis were the two biggest influences on me when I started outlining the Domidium, so that makes sense.

    I’m interested as to what others on Story Embers think. When you hear a book advertised in terms of other books, does that intrigue you or make you write it off as copycat storytelling? What kind of works would you compare your stories to?

    おはいよう. 日本語は好きです .

    Sarah Inkdragon


    To be honest, it very much depends on what books it’s being compared too. For example, ‘Divergent meets Twilight” would probably be a huge turn off for me because neither of those two books were something that every intrigued me or that I enjoyed.

    I write fantasy, and I’ve found that usually it’s pretty hard to find a good novel among those that are compared to other famous works/popular authors, mainly because a lot of them are literally crosses of the two novels or draw waaay to heavily from the inspiration those books offered them. I’m not saying using certain elements from other books is wrong, or being inspired by other books, but there’s a line between transferring an element or being inspired and actually stealing from those books.

    Also, in a good fantasy novel, there’s usually an amount of uniqueness that can’t be compared to other novels. I for one can say that if you like Narnia, you may like Lord of the Rings, and if you like Lord of the Rings, you may like Eragon, but that doesn’t mean any of those books are actually really similar to each other. They all deal with pretty unique ideas and are built up in different ways.

    So yes, to some degree I write these books off as copycat stories, but there’s also a few books that I’ve enjoyed a lot. One thing I’m careful to do now is to always read the summary/sample pages before writing off any novel that originally interested me, because I may be surprised.

    As for what I’d compare my own WIP to…. I’m not sure, honestly. Lord of the Rings…. meets Avatar: The Last Airbender? (We’ll ignore that Avatar isn’t a novel. XD)

    "A hard heart is no infallible protection against a soft head."

    - C. S. Lewis

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