I am getting ready to query a novel that is partially inspired by a true story. I am going to mention this in my query, especially since it occurred in New York City and so most agents may find my query ringing a bell. I am also debating mentioning that a non-fiction book about the true story was a recent New York Times bestseller, to show that there is interest in the topic.
Should I do this? (1) Does it demonstrate that there is interest in the topic, or because it is a non-fiction book is it unrelated to any potential sales for my book?(2) Or worse, am I hurting myself by pointing out that there's competition in the marketplace for books on this topic?(3)
3. Yes...but not for that reason.
Should you do this? No you should not. You don't have enough words in a query to do anything but talk about YOUR story. All the time you waste telling me it's based on true events is time you're not talking about your interpretation.
Interest in your book will have almost no correlation to interest in the non-fiction book.
And you're hurting yourself because you're going to confuse your reader (me.) I can't tell you the number of times a query has opened by talking about some real life event and I thought the query was for non-fiction and my finny fin fin was quite jazzed. Only to find out in paragraph two that this is a novel and the writer thought I'd be interested in the novel cause I was interested in the real life event.
Here's the problem: I read non-fiction to learn things, or to get different takes on things I already know. Varying perspectives on events in history etc. I assume that non-fiction is well-researched and true. I depend on that in fact.
Novels are a whole different ball game. I read those for fun. If I learn things, or gain perspective, I don't assume those things are true. It's a novel. It's FICTION. You get to make it all up.
You'd no more limit yourself to "what's true" in a novel than you'd limit yourself to "what's real" in a paranormal romance.
Let your story stand on its own.