First off, it’s important to strike a balance between identifying books that are similar to yours and highlighting the unique aspects of your manuscript that set it apart from those books.
One way to identify similar books is to do some research into the types of books that are currently popular in the market. Whether that’s looking up the top 100 in your genre on a particular online retailer, or going to your local bookshops and seeing what’s popular. This can give you a better understanding of where your book fits in the market and the genre.
Another way to find similar books is to read reviews of books that are similar to yours and see if any other books are mentioned. Although this could take a while and should be a last resort!
When you mention similar books, it’s important to be specific about what it is those books have that’s similar to yours. For example, if your book is a mystery novel, you might mention that it has a similar plot structure to the other book or that it features a detective with a unique investigative style. If your book is a romance novel, you might mention that it has a similar tone or that it explores similar themes in the relationships in the book.
At the same time, it’s important to highlight the unique aspects of your book that set it apart from the other titles. This might include the setting, the characters, or your writing style. For example, if your book is a mystery novel you might mention that it is set in a unique location, with its own unique challenges, or that it features a protagonist with a distinctive personality. If your book is a romance novel, you might mention that it explores a particular subgenre of romance that is not currently well-represented in the market.
When providing specific examples of similar books and highlighting the unique aspects of your own book, it’s a good idea to be clear and concise in your response. Agents and publishers receive a lot of submissions and they don’t have much time to read through lengthy responses. Therefore, you should aim to provide a brief but informative answer that gives them a good sense of what your book is about and where it fits in the market.
You should always include a short summary or synopsis of your book with your submission and this is the perfect place to highlight those things that set the book apart. That way, the agent or publisher can have a better idea of the overall plot, characters, setting and tone of your manuscript and how it differs from what’s currently available.
Finally, it’s important to remember that “What books are your manuscript similar to?” is not a trick question.
The agent or publisher is simply trying to get a sense of the type of book you’ve written and where it fits in the market. That’s why it’s important to be honest and thoughtful in your response, and to focus on providing a clear and informative answer that will help them understand the potential market for your book.