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Yes, You Really Do Need a Comp Title: 5 Reasons Why

Updated: 1 day ago

“Nooooo!” you say, crumpling onto your keyboard. Whether a new or seasoned author, we hope to skirt around the dreaded task of finding comps, but as much as we hope it will go away, it just doesn’t. Here's the truth: they won't disappear. But, there's a silver lining. Comp titles, or comparable titles, are actually incredibly powerful. Comp titles are recent, existing books, which share significant similarities with your new or unpublished manuscript. Having a handful of quality comp titles in your back pocket can not only boost your confidence but potentially bring financial rewards.

In this post, we'll explore why they matter and, more importantly, how you can harness their power to your advantage. No more keyboard-crushing moments; instead, get ready to discover the art of finding comp titles and maybe even having some fun along the way!

A person selecting a book from a shelf

1. Understanding Market Trends

A valuable comp title is one that has successfully captured your target audience's attention. It provides insights into reader preferences, popular themes, and sought-after writing styles. For our example, let's take Neely Tubati Alexander's recent release, Love Buzz.

Begin by identifying the primary genre of your comp title. Explore the core themes it addresses and determine its intended audience. In the case of Love Buzz, it belongs to Women's Fiction and Romantic Comedy genres. The book delves into themes of self-discovery, friendship, and love. Its audience includes readers seeking heartwarming romance intertwined with relatable life challenges.

By aligning your manuscript with these genre, theme, and audience preferences, you not only enhance your manuscript's appeal but also position it with current market trends. This strategic approach significantly increases your manuscript's chances of catching the eye of literary agents, publishers, and, ultimately, readers in search of content similar to what's already proven successful.

2. Pitching to Publishers and Negotiating Deals

When literary agents pitch a manuscript to publishers, they rely on comp titles as reference points to convey the book's potential audience and market appeal. Presenting your chosen literary agent with a strong comp title provides them with an immediate springboard for this crucial task.

When selecting comp titles, keep in mind the importance of freshness. Opt for recent titles, preferably no older than five years. Publishers are more inclined to assess your manuscript's fit within the market when they can draw parallels to successful contemporary books.

Moreover, comp titles are not only a pitching tool but also a negotiating asset. Agents can leverage the success of similar books to secure better terms for you when striking deals with publishers. This makes it especially important to carefully choose and present your comp titles.

3. Setting Realistic Expectations

Comparable titles offer a practical benchmark for estimating sales potential. When your literary agent can demonstrate that your manuscript shares similarities with a successful book, it becomes easier to gauge the level of interest it might generate from publishers and readers. This is invaluable for setting realistic expectations for both you, the author, and the publishing team.

Consider, for example, the comp title The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, a #​1 New York Times bestselling thriller renowned for its gripping plot and widespread acclaim. Using The Silent Patient as a comp title can establish an aspirational benchmark for your work. It implies that your manuscript possesses the potential to reach a broad readership and generate substantial interest, reflecting the success of this bestselling novel. It's worth noting here that using such well-known titles as comps when querying literary agents is generally discouraged. Instead, focus on comparable titles that share thematic or stylistic elements without being overly famous.

If your chosen comp title has cultivated a more niche following, like The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, it can provide valuable insights for expectation setting. Chambers' novel is a niche gem within the science fiction genre, encompassing elements of Space Opera, Adventure, and LGBTQ themes. Understanding where your manuscript fits on this spectrum can assist you in establishing realistic expectations, especially if your work caters to a more focused readership.

4. Positioning and Marketing

In the realm of marketing, comp titles provide a solid foundation for your promotional efforts. If your comp title boasts a strong online presence, a dedicated fan base, or successful marketing strategies, you can draw inspiration from these tactics.

Begin by examining their website, social media accounts, newsletters, and any interviews or articles that delve into their promotional endeavors. Pay attention to the type of content the author of the comp title shares. Do they provide valuable writing tips, offer behind-the-scenes glimpses, or engage with their readers? Adapt similar content ideas to resonate with your own audience.

Moreover, integrating your comp title into your marketing materials serves a dual purpose. It helps potential readers swiftly grasp the kind of reading experience they can anticipate, which can result in heightened engagement and interest. This approach enables you to showcase your book's unique qualities while tapping into the success and appeal of an existing book.

5. Building an Author Platform

Much like positioning and marketing, identifying a comparable book can also shed light on your target audience and their preferences. This knowledge is invaluable when it comes to constructing your author platform and connecting with potential readers who are already enthusiasts of similar books.

Start by researching the readership of your comp title and where its fans congregate online. Discover the online communities and platforms where they gather to discuss their favorite books. Engage with these communities by participating in related discussions, whether on social media platforms or forums.

Share your insights, contribute to conversations, and establish yourself as a knowledgeable and approachable author. By doing so, you encourage readers to delve into your work, follow your creative journey, and connect with you as an author. This proactive approach aids in the effective growth of your own community of readers.


Comp titles are not only valuable tools for an author, they are absolutely essential in helping you understand and market your work. By drawing parallels with existing successful works, comp titles provide you with insights into your reader preferences and market trends. Through this invaluable comparison, you can refine you narrative voice, fine-tune your targeting strategies, and forge a stronger connection with your intended audience.

So, sit up, take a deep breath, and begin your comp search today!

Still struggling to find comps for your book? Check out Big Book Analytics’ personalized Comparable Title Report, which matches your book description to ten comparable titles in your genre.

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