Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Notes from New York: The Importance of Comparative Titles

Welcome back to Notes from New York. Today we talk about a querying tip rather than a writing tip: specifically ‘comparative titles’, or as I always heard them referred to ‘comps’.

Comps are something that a lot of people write in their queries. In many ways, it’s a good idea. If you can compare your book to a certain title, that gives the agent some idea of what to expect and also how they might market your book in the future. If you do get an agent, part of submitting to editors is making a list of comparative titles to show where your book stands in the industry.

However, while comps can be a good thing in a query times they can work against you. So here’s a list of dos and don’ts with comps.

1. Don’t aim to high

Your book is not the next Harry Potter. Even if it somehow, spectacularly, is the next Harry Potter, you have no way of knowing that at the time of querying. Some people comp really well known, best selling titles because they think it shows their books money making potential. Really, all it does is show you don’t know the industry or you way overestimate the selling power of your work. Most books don’t sell like Harry Potter. In fact, just about all books don’t sell like Harry Potter. So don’t aim too high.

2. Do aim at the middle

It never hurts to comp a relatively well known, but not unbelievably popular title. There are a lot more of these, and chances are, it will be easier for you to find an accurate comp to your work in this category. This will better show that you know where your book stands within its genre

3. Don’t comp books your agent already represents

Mostly because, the agent already has a similar book for their list and might be less interested. An agent will love the authors that they have taken on, which means that you’re fighting an uphill battle when you claim they will love your book just as much. Additionally, they might not have room for more similar titles on their list.

4. Do comp an agents favorite books

Most agents have blogs or websites or twitters where they talk about their favorite books and TV shows. They write about these things so that people will know what to send their way. You still may be fighting an uphill battle because they have high expectations, but if they are looking for something in the vein of their favorite work, comping said work can be a way to get you noticed. Just be sure its accurate and back it up with great writing.

5. Don’t feel the need to include comps

Comparative works in the query really aren’t necessary. If you don’t have good ones or you’re not sure what to compare your book to, leave them out. The most important part of the query is the part about your book. If your query is good, you don’t need to add comp titles if you’re not sure what you’d put

6. Do still be aware of comparative titles
When you are querying you should none the less be aware of your genre, category and marketability. This will help you enormously in the querying and publishing process. Read a lot in your genre to find some comparative titles. Even if you don’t put them in your query, they will help you down the line.

Good luck querying and I hope everyone has hit the midpoint of NaNoWriMo :)

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