What is a comp title, and why is it essential to your writing process? A comp title is a reference to another work, usually more than one book that gives a sense of what your book is about.
When I wrote my first draft I had no idea what a comp title was until my writing coach suggested that I create a list of 10 comp titles for my story, and why it was an important step in my writing process. Initially, I thought that was too much extra work and refused to do it. My main objective at that time was to write my first draft. I needed to get those thoughts out of my head and down on paper.
I wished I had listened because looking back I could have saved a lot of invested time knowing the theme of my story. Instead, I had a pile of poop lol and that’s putting it nicely. My first draft was awful! It lacked direction, didn’t have a theme, and the characters were all over the place. But at least I accomplished a goal— I wrote my first draft.
Side note, I’m peeved because yesterday I wrote this blog post and it was nicely done. I saved it in my dashboard on WP quick draft and BAM, this morning it’s gone. I thought I could save and come back to edit it, but I can’t find my post. I’m sooo peeved that I have to start over again, and my heart isn’t in it.
I’m grabbing my heart back to start over again.
Would I have changed anything that I initially did? NOoo not at that time, but for the next draft, YES! I learn from experience and I want you to learn from my mistake by creating your list of comp titles before you start writing your first draft. And if you already started your draft you can create your list as you write.
After revising the 3rd draft of book one, I created a list of 15 comp titles. YES, I exceeded my own expectation. But 3-5 comp titles are good enough to start with. I realized that reading the work of bestseller authors in my genre, I can appreciate the different styles of writing. I was able to discover their themes, as well as themes within my own story, which I initially fail to recognize.
I learned when and how a murder should occur, how many red herrings are needed to keep the plot moving your story forward, and how to follow the formulaic structure of a cozy mystery. And I can honestly say, having comp titles before writing your first draft can make your journey a lot easier.
—Well-chosen comp titles make it easy for agents, editors, publishers to quickly understand the content and tone of your story.
—Your publishing team (even if you’re self-publish) relies heavily on comp titles to help with your making plan and sales projection.
—Comp titles are essential in a query letter. It may make a difference in a hard pass and a second look, especially if your story is compared with a familiar best-selling author.
—Comp titles demonstrate that you are a professional, and your manuscript is worthy of considerations because you did your homework. You read in your genre and you know your target audience.
1. Embrace reading. Allot an hour each day to read your comp titles.
2. Make sure your comp titles are written by best-selling authors with published books between 3-4 years of publication.
3. Search for books similar to what you’re writing. Don’t overthink it, just pick out key elements from your story to find your comp titles, and stay within your genre.
4. Check out GoodReads to see what other readers are saying on their list of books read within your genre. And on Amazon look under your subgenre and check out the “also brought” section underneath about this product. (You can also get inspiration for your book cover)
5. Ask your friends, teachers, bookstore employees for book suggestions.
6. Join local or online book clubs for your genre. And check out online forums such as Reddit (my favorite); I actively engage with other readers and writers when creating my list of comp titles.
7. And finally, ask a librarian, they’re the BEST SOURCE of book information. Don’t think you’re bothering them, they would love to help you on your writing journey.
Support your local library by getting a library card. Then download Libby Overdrive app and connect your library card with your local library. You are able to download tons of free books to read via the Libby app or on your Kindle device.
As a Library Patreon, you have access to Novelist Plus where you can genre a list of books based upon your search, “make your own appeal mix” generator.
I hope you found some golden nuggets in this blog post…until next time Happy Writing!