sallyhanan’s blog

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How to find and list comparative fiction/non-fiction October 4, 2009

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A good book proposal includes a comparative fiction/non-fiction search. This is the part of the proposal where you list a number of books that sound as if they might cover the same story line or theme of your book. Here’s how to find those books:

Scour the bookstore shelves
Go to the section where your future book will stand. (Mine would go in the inspirational romantic suspense section. Fortunately, there are only about twelve feet of that genre in our local store.) One by one, look at the book jacket blurbs of all the books there. If a book contains any of the main keywords your book is about, and it seems to cover the same things your book does, jot down the name of the book.

Once back on your computer, go to a large online bookstore like Amazon and do a search for each of the books on your list. Look at the blurbs again, and cut and paste (into a new Word doc) all of the outlines that are closest to yours, along with the name, author, publishing house and pub. date.

Search the main online bookstores
Amazon and Barnes and Noble are probably the most well known. If your book is about how to parent in love, search for groups of keywords like “love, parents, parenting, kids,” etc. Again, find the books that seem to be most like yours and add the descriptions to your Word doc.

Now you are ready to make your list. Narrow it down to just one Word page of similar books and write them like this (without the pictures).

COMPARATIVE CATEGORY FICTION (Romantic suspense, Christian)

Dee Henderson, The Witness, Tyndale (2006). Amanda Griffin witnesses a multiple murder; Deputy Chief of Police Luke Granger befriends her. He fails to convince Amanda to come out of hiding, however. Three years later, Luke finds his interest in Amanda becoming more personal.

And The Guardian, (The O’Malley Series #2), Tyndale House Publishers, (2005). A judge has been gunned down, and someone wants to kill the only woman who saw the murder. Marcus’s heart gets a workout, too, as he finds himself charmed by the lovely speechwriter who witnessed the crime.

Irene Hannon, An Eye for An Eye, (Heroes of Quantico #2), Revell; (September 1, 2009) FBI Hostage Rescue Team member has a chance encounter with an old flame, Emily Lawson. But their reunion is cut short by a sniper. Now Mark must find the shooter before he tries to strike again. Can Mark put the pieces together, keep Emily safe, and rekindle a long-dead relationship at the same time?

Although the closest in story line, We Know the Truth finds the male MC tormented between his choice to run from his wife’s discovery v. protect her life. This is the one relationship his heart will not let him cut the ties to.
As you can see, I have added a comment under the second one to show how my novel is different. This is what the goal of your list is for—to show that you have come up with a new story line or new plot idea that is unlike anything else currently on the market.

When I did my own study, I was able to talk my husband into coming with me to the bookstore. It saved an aching arm and he found more comparative books than I did. I hope you can find some kind-hearted companion for your own search.

Good luck!



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