So I have two fulls out with agents right now and a handful of query letters. I've been really excited and hopeful about the process, but I recently saw that a new ARC had been released in my same genre. It has a pretty different plot line than mine, but I thought up a snappy name for a potion in mine that's pivotal to the plot, and it turns out they have the same exact name for their own potion that's pivotal to the plot. Now I'm worried that the agents reading my manuscript will see this and assume I somehow either copied it or that my story is too similar to this ARC for it to sell, even though the plots are different. I'm also pretty upset that I'll now have to go into my own story and find a new name for my potion when I was so happy with what I'd come up with. I know this seems like such a small thing, but can it have a big impact on the agents reading my work? Do I contact those two agents, or just leave them alone and hope they don't get turned off by it?
Because this is the first time this has happened to you, you think it's a big deal.
This happens a LOT. It's NOT a big deal.
Example: this past weekend I was at ThrillerFest. A lovely writer asked for help on a query. Her query included a phrase that I thought meant one thing; in fact the usage is now for something else, a site on the Dark Web. I'd never heard of it before and I was positive agents would confuse this new usage with the historical usage. With that in mind, I advised her to change her phrase.
Within a day, two OTHER writers, in two separate conversations, referenced the new usage as a plot point.
I'd have laughed if I wasn't quite so mortified about my confident insistence that people would not recognize the new usage.
Agents will not think you copied this other writer. For starters, the book isn't published.
And the reason I know you didn't steal this idea is cause you're worried about people thinking you did. The blatant plagiarists never think anyone will notice. Meticulous writers are sure everyone will...and assume the worst.
You didn't steal this idea, or this nomenclature. People come up with similar ideas and phrases more often than you'd think.
Bottom line: you're fine.