Following on from all the wonderful advice I've received here, I've had another crack at my query letter and synopsis, and feel a lot happier about both. However, I am really struggling with comp titles. Is it unwise to leave them out, would it be greatly detrimental to my submission? I note that in the Jericho submission pack, it doesn't really mention them, unless I've just completely missed that.
Honestly, a few beta readers have been really very kind and thrown about a few names like Jasper Fford, Tom Holt and Jodi Taylor, in terms of style. I am deeply flattered, but extremely reluctant to compare my work to such accomplished and popular writers, however I'd be even more reluctant to say my influences are largely Terry Pratchett and Ben Aaronovitch (even MORE prominent and hugely successful writers, and only in my wildest dreams would I hope to be mentioned in the same breath as them!).
My other concern is recency of the comp titles. I know ideally a comp title should be within the last 3-5 years, however what if they are a series? For example, the tone of my novel is quite similar to Jodi Taylor's Chronicles of St Mary's. Her first book in the series came out well over 5 years ago, so would I just go with the most recent one? Or just reference the series. Same with Tom Holt. My MS is most similar in tone to his earlier work (less surreal, perhaps), therefore using a more recent title may not be entirely useful.
The closest I've got to anything even remotely approaching useful is: 'This novel will appeal to readers who enjoy humorous fantasy, falling somewhere between Tom Holt and Jodi Taylor.' And it makes me cringe.
Can I ask how you have approached this? Have you gone down the Comp title route? If so, what genre are you in, have you used just books, or films/TV shows too?
Have you decided 'To hell with comp titles!' and not bothered? How has it worked out for you?
Bonus points if you can give examples. I'd love to hear other views, and hopefully it will be a good learning opportunity for a lot of us.
Thanks for reading.