What are Comps and Why Should I Care?

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This week, I learned something new alongside you guys – so that’s fun! Today’s topic is finding the ever-elusive “comps” (short for comprehensive titles). Basically, a comp is a title similar to your own. If you’re feeling at all bashful even mentioning your book baby in the same paragraph as some of the greats, read on. I’m sharing some ways you can situate your work in the ranks with other stories your readers know and love. Not only does this instantly increase your legitimacy as an author, but it also gives your audience something familiar to grab onto before diving into your story. So don’t be afraid to play the comparison game – it’ll help you promote your work.

Remember what inspired you to write in the first place.

Did you read a fantastic thriller novel that got the gears turning? Or maybe it was a hilarious romantic comedy? Make a list of everything that stoked the fire in you, and then narrow it down to works that feel similar to the story you’ve written. This will work perfectly unless you’re like me – who started writing books because of a certain long-haired guitarist guy I met years ago. People can’t count as comps, unfortunately. If they did, I’d have a list as long as I am tall.

Don’t limit yourself to comping just books.

Yes – movies can count too! Or maybe it was a play, or a musical. It can be mentioned as a comparable work as long as there’s a plot line attached. So have fun with it!

Ask your readers what your book reminds them of.

If you get stuck, and for the life of you can’t remember what it was that inspired you, this is a great tactic. You can even make it a fun questionnaire with incentives if you have trouble getting answers out of people. Easy tasks like this often go over really well with social media followers, because they usually do want to help you but sometimes need a little push to take the time. For more tips for leveraging reader feedback, read this recent article HERE

Choose comps based on different elements of your story.

Don’t get too mired in the process. It’s okay if it’s not a perfect fit, and you can suggest comps based on particular elements of your story. Maybe your book features a brave tough-as-nails main character similar to Tris Prior from Divergent. Or maybe your plot twists move in a non-linear fashion similarly to the way the Maze Runner mystery unfolds. Both of these methods are valid, and would show your readers that you know both your work – and the market trends – well enough to market yourself effectively.

Imagine your future as a wildly successful author!

You know the saying “if you can dream it, you can do it”? Well, it’s true! Positivity matters. But in this area, you can also use it to prompt your comp ideas. One article suggested imagining yourself on a panel with similar authors – who are they? Or, think about how your book might be stocked at a bookstore – is it Young Adult, or somewhere a bit more *ahem* adult? Either way, you have to imagine the life you want to live and the success you plan on having. 

See? Finding comps doesn’t have to be the scary concept you were thinking it is. In fact, I’d argue it’s actually the fun part – because it lets your mind wander as much as it would off the page as it does on it. 

Do you have a topic you would like us to cover? Let us know about your suggestion. 


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