Compiling a list of comparative titles is no doubt a tiring aspect of the life of an agent or editor. I imagine they get tired of all the writers whose work is a complete mis-read for the list they compare it to. And I'm sure they get sick of hearing that every title is the next DaVinci Code or Harry Potter.
But if done with objectivity and sincerity, I think the comparative titles (listed in the conclusion of the pitch to editors) list is an essential aspect of getting your work published. It illustrates that you, as a writer (read insulated and sometimes considered, well, less than savvy about the marketplace), are thinking about your career and how to carve out a place for yourself on those crowded bookshelves.
- Choose some pretty current, recognizable titles. I've compared Wendigo to a pair of my favorite stories, but I'm not sure how many editors have read Boy's Life and/or Bubba Ho-Tep. Hopefully they've at least seen the film version of the latter. The third title was King's Dreamcatcher.
- Think about other forms of media. Movies. Television. The cultural spirit of the country at the time you are writing. My WIP is a cross of Meet Joe Black and King's Bag of Bones. Think about the demographic groups that will read your novel and try to target your pitch materials to creative titles they will respond well to.
- Try a little flattery. If you work closely with your agent and he/she is willing, try to individualize the pitch to include a title or two that the editor has acquired. It shows you know what's out there and doesn't hurt that you admire his or her taste.
- Be realistic.
- Be realistic.
I'm working on my synopsis of #2 at the same time that I'm polishing it. B and I have had cursory discussions about maybe dropping into NYC to visit with a couple of editors, but we'll have to see where the work is to make that happen.
I'm off to the word well for the day, but if you're getting close to finishing up your novel, take my advice and start thinking about the marketing. I know the temptation is to take a deep breath and be happy that you finished it, but that's only part of it. Now you need to think about the query, synopsis, comparative titles list, pitch and author press kit.