I have read your many posts on comps, and I am reading (even more) books in my genre like a crazy person right now. But, I have found that the best comps for my book would be Dennis Lehane's GONE BABY, GONE and Delia Owens's WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING.
Now, I'm an unpublished writer and this is my first novel, so it would be arrogant of me to compare myself to two best sellers (and I know one of these books is too old to use as a comp anyway). I'm in no way saying that I think my writing is on par with these two authors, but the themes, subject matter and structure of my novel really is a loose hybrid of both (accidentally).
I guess what I'm trying to ask, in a not-so-articulate way, is—is there a way that a querying author could mention this without sounding like a delusional nutbag? Is there a way, after mentioning more recent comps (that are as close as possible to my novel, but don't really convey what I've written) to hint at these other books being similar in the ways I've stated?
I think I may be losing my mind with this comp business.
You may be losing your mind, but you are not a delusional
nutbag. Well, at least not to any greater degree than all the rest of us who work in publishing.
Your book may well compare in theme, subject matter, and
structure to Gone Baby Gone or Where the Crawdads Sing, BUT.
But, the other purpose of comps is to show the size of the
Gone Baby Gone was the fourth book in an established series
featuring Boston PIs Kenzie and Gennaro.
Readers weren't looking for theme, subject matter or
structure when they considered buying the book. They were mostly looking to
spend more time with characters they already liked.
As a debut, you don't have that advantage.
Where The Crawdads Sing is such an outlier that it's not an
effective comp anymore for anyone. The chances of repeating that book's success
are not high.
Plus, Where The Crawdads Sing isn't really crime fiction.
Amazon lists it as coming of age, and literary fiction.
The publisher lists it as general fiction.
Gone Baby Gone is crime fiction.
You wouldn't want to use both of these as comps because they
are on different shelves.
So, you're not a delusional nutbag, but you're not on the
right path either. Figure out your category first then look for books that are:
(1) recent (pubbed no earlier than 2019);
(2) from a debut author (or close to it);
(3) from a trade house (ie not self published).