Comment to 'Can we discuss comp titles?'
  • From what I've seen so far, publishing seem to love comp titles. They really help to see where your book would sit on shelves at a book shop, which readership it might appeal to, etc... Good comp titles can help an agent decide how quickly they will read your submission and its potential.

    My agent loves comp titles and like a lot of agents she uses them when pitching to publishers. It's tough to come up with good recent titles. It took a lot of head scratching and searching before I found the right ones. In the end that's what I said in my submission letter: "It will appeal to readers of Lucy Foley’s The Hunting Party for its oppressive atmosphere and vivid setting and to readers of Kate Elizabeth Russell’s My Dark Vanessa and Sarah Henstra's The Red Word." (the reason for My Dark Vanessa & The Red Word was explained in the sentence before that one, hence why it's not in this sentence). 

    You can use books, TV shows or films. When Katie Khan submitted Holding Back the Stars, she used the comp titles: One Day meets Gravity.

    Definitely stay away from massive bestsellers and very successful authors. If you can use titles released in the last 5 years great, also bonus points if any of them are debuts. Good comp titles also show that you know the market you want to publish in and what's around at the time you are submitting.

    I hope this helps.

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    • No problem.

      I hadn't read it by that stage but I knew what the story was about and the themes it covered.

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      • New here, and inexperienced, but I was under the impression comps were required so agents could calculate the intended audience and market appeal of the book, and, ( most importantly) their potential profits if they accept a manuscript for publication. 

        ?

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        • Yes, they use them. But how they claim (including to themselves) that they use them, and the real inner psuychological process are unrelated. They claims are pseufo-scientific business, whereas the reality is a gut thing that is - like all gut things - more wrong than random chance.

          Of course, the implied connection given by the comp titles creates a perceptive connection (even when one doesn't truly exist) with the manuscript. And so the snowball rolls on.

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