Sunday, April 11, 2021

#Authorlifemonth Day 10 My Comp Titles

 As I said last week, I am doing #authorlifemonth or, as some call it, #authorlifemonth2021 on Twitter. Yesterday's prompt was "My Comp Titles." Since I'm using Saving the Planet & Stuff for any book references for this challenge, my comp titles will relate to it. 

Comp titles, in case anyone is wondering, are titles of books yours can be compared to, especially known, relatively successful books you can compare yours to. Initially, you are trying to show prospective agents and editors that there is an interest in your subject matter out in the buying public. Then you're trying to show buyers that if they liked Book A, they will certainly like yours, as well.

Comp titles are a struggle for me. I have a hard time coming up with any, and I've grown to suspect that that's because my interests, which is what I write about, of course, may not be generally shared. 

For Saving the Planet & Stuff, the comp title situation is particularly interesting. I was working with a editor and publisher at the time, and they didn't require comp titles from me, because we were just interested in the next Gail Gauthier book. Yes, once upon a time there was an interest in the next Gail Gauthier book. You'll have to trust me on that.

Additionally, Saving the Planet & Stuff deals with environmentalism. The plot, the setting, and even the secondary characters are all part of that subset of the American culture that cares about environmental living. I find environmental children's books predicatable and even boring. The middle grade books are very pedantic. Kids are fighting evil corporations. They're saving an endangered species. YA books, when you find them at all, are frequently clifi. Humans have done something to cause climate disaster. If you've read one of those, haven't you read them all?

But I Do Have A Couple Of Comp Titles For STPS! 


Over the years, I have come up with a couple of books I think could be compared to Saving the Planet & Stuff.

  • Right now, I'm reading Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald in which a teenage environmentalist goes out into the Canadian "wild" for the summer where she finds that she's not welcome. (Aside--I can't find much information about Abby McDonald, though she appears to be one of the staff writers for the TV series Bridgerton. I know you want to know that, since I want to know it.)
  • Kissing Frogs by Alisha Sevigny in which a teenage borderline mean girl
    is thrown in for the summer with the school science crowd who are dealing with one of those endangered species I mentioned above.   

These two books, along with Saving the Planet & Stuff, are fish-out-of-water stories. In STP&S and Kissing Frogs, the fish are being thrown in with environmentalists, which they most definitely are not. In Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots, the fish is the environmentalist who is thrown in with people who are not only non-environmentalists, they're a bit hostile to the idea. These books are examples of environmentalism providing the background or character development for the story. 

They are also all examples of mainstream stories integrating environmentalism instead of stories that are excuses for environmental lectures. I don't think environmentalism will be a serious part of our culture until we start seeing this kind of thing happening in books a lot more.


Claire Datnow. said...

Thanks for the focus on environmental themes. I agree there should be something more to the plot that connects readers to the characters in a more compelling way. As the author of eco adventures for middle grades and up I work at applying techniques to avoid information dumping and keep the pace going,

Gail Gauthier said...

The dreaded info dump.

With children's books there's often a struggle for the adults producing them between doing good and creating good fiction. With books dealing with environmentalism, doing good often wins out in a big way that maybe doesn't do environmentalism real service.