Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Research Tip: Are There Other Books Out There Like Mine?

In an earlier post, I told you about virtual libraries that most states have for their citizens. As a matter of fact, I've found online libraries for 44 states now, if you want to check it out at Facts for Fiction.

In Georgia's virtual library (GALILEO), we have a great resource called NoveList. Its main focus is to help readers find books similar to ones they've read and enjoyed, or find other authors that will remind them of their favorites. As a fiction writer, I've found another great use for it.

Have you ever been advised to find houses that publish books similar to yours? Or maybe in a book proposal, you want to refer to successful novels that share certain qualities with yours. Maybe you're just curious what's out there that's like your work in progress. NoveList is a great source for that.

You can, of course, just browse the Author Read-Alikes or its other features. But it also has a really cool feature where you can "describe a plot" and have it pull up a list that fits the bill.

For example, awhile back I had a new story idea involving time travel. Is time travel an acceptable topic in the Christian fiction market, I wondered? Has anyone done it before? So I entered time travel and Christian fiction as my search terms, and quickly found that Randy Ingermanson, Nancy Moser and other Christian novelists had indeed tackled that subject. But mine has a sort of psychological suspense to it. I tried psychological suspense and time travel and came up with Kindred by Octavia Butler.

I've checked for NoveList in some of the other virtual libraries in the Facts for Fiction list. Some seem to have it and some don't. If you're one of the unfortunate ones whose state doesn't offer it, don't despair. I'll bet your public library has some kind of resource for finding "read-alikes" and books that have certain plots or themes. Just ask your local librarian, and she (or he) can probably point you in the right direction.