I hate the comp titles thing. Probably mainly because all my reading is terribly out of date. (How do people have time to do real life and write and noodle about on the internet and read?)
I always recall an overheard conversation where a grandmother was trying to decide whether a baby looked like his mum or his dad. The other grandmother said “Neither, he’s his dear little self and don’t you forget it”. Just saying 😀
SE USA, Atlanta area. But I also learned that agents are human and all different so that doesn't mean she spoke for everyone. But publishing IS very expensive, and time is money, so I can understand why an agent would want to streamline their work investment as much as possible and avoid costly mistakes. If a writer shows she knows her market, I guess it gives her an edge. I failed mine. I comped an older book and a movie, and was called out on it in the one-on-one I paid for. But again, by THAT agent. Maybe another would not have objected. That's what they mean by tailoring one's query to the specific agent, I guess. Also, once you've been published, it's a heck of a lot easier to get published again, from what I gather. It's that first time that's the bugger, lol.