#authortoolboxbloghop, For Writers

Tips for Finding Comp Titles for your Novel – #authortoolboxbloghop


Comp titles – the dread of every author with a novel ready to submit.  (For those who may not know, comp titles stands for comparable titles and basically means titles comparable to your book. They should be books that your ideal readers may have already read or would enjoy reading.)

Many author friends have told me that it’s just so hard to come up with comp titles because their novel isn’t really like anything else they’ve read. And while that’s true in a sense and we all want to believe our book babies are unique and unlike anything else out there, there are still some basic rules we can use to find comp titles.

Sidebar: You have to be reading a lot and reading what is popular now (something published within the last ten years) to successfully find relevant comp titles. Check out my blog post on reading as a writer here.

1. Same Genre and age group: This is pretty much a given, but it is the first thing you need to look for – novels of the same genre as yours and written for the same age group as yours.

2. Same atmosphere: Is your novel light and fun-hearted or more serious? Maybe it’s dark and a little edgy. Whatever overall atmosphere your novel is portraying, you want to find  comparable novels that have a similar atmosphere.

3. Similar elements: What is a prevalent element in your story? Is it based on a fairytale, myth, or comic/superhero? Is it focused on music, movies, or other entertainment? Maybe it deals with a life-threatening illness or coming of age. Find comparable novels with the same element(s).

Here’s how I used these tips to come up with my own comp titles for my current WIP, The Blood-Stained Key. It’s a YA fantasy, a bit dark, and is a fairytale retelling of Bluebeard. So I chose some other dark YA fantasy fairytale retellings as comp titles:

The Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes (Alice in Wonderland retelling)

The Ravenspire series by CJ Redwine (a series of dark fairytale retellings)

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo (A Little Mermaid retelling)

What about you? Do you struggle to find comp titles? Do you have any tips for determining comp titles? Let me know in the comments!





27 thoughts on “Tips for Finding Comp Titles for your Novel – #authortoolboxbloghop”

  1. This WIP will be the first one I find comp titles for, as I never did it with my debut novel. I love these tips. Thank you so much for this post. I’ll tuck it away for future reference. I also tweeted. ❤

  2. Excellent post. I definitely struggle with comps, particularly because though I read a lot, I check out of a book if I get bored or there are editing errors, which seem to be more and more frequent lately, I also tend to read outside the genre I write in, which makes it more difficult.

  3. I admit,and before now I haven’t given comp titles much thought (in part because I’m currently trying to write short stories as a way of learning a few things before tackling my more ambitious ideas) but I think your ideas are very solid.

    Even as a reader, I sometimes struggle to find “specific stories” among the wealth of possibilities. It’s often easy to find a gritty fantasy, but finding a gritty fantasy where the protagonist is an assassin, and doesn’t just “eliminate those who are guilty” can be tricky. I’ve only found a few titles that even approach the topic of assassin as protagonist (most prefer to relegate the assassin to a secondary or tertiary character).

    Do you have any advice/suggestions for finding stories with comparable elements (#3)? So far I find most of it is a mix of google, word of mouth, and a certain amount of “well it’s likely ‘this’ would appeal to a specific demographic/subgenre.”

    1. Those are all good ways to find some comp titles. The main other suggestion I have is read a ton of books in the same genre/age group as you are writing. This has been the best way for me to find comp titles. I read at least three titles in my genre/age group a month. Goodreads is another way to search for comp titles. They have tons of lists grouping books together in various ways. Also, if you have one title you think is similar, you can look up that title on Goodreads and it will show you what other titles readers enjoyed. Glad you enjoyed the post!

      1. That’s fair. I feel like two books with identical titles is a very “easy to avoid” pitfall, one I’ve only seen once or twice.
        Though part of me dreams of a story database where you can just click various “buttons” that represent different traits or variables and watch the book list dwindle down to only a few candidates. Like “I want a story featuring a prophecy, but the hero messes up, and it’s dystopian, but also has a lot of humor, and a strong/prominent magic system” and the database would go “okay, here are the 3 stories that meet your criteria.”

  4. Comp titles are awful. I always feel as if I’m either bragging or going too obscure, or some strange combination of both. Yours look good, though and these are helpful suggestions! A retelling of Bluebeard sounds dark and fascinating.

  5. Mainly I have had critiquers tell me that a story is like such and so. I was asked if I had read Patterson’s ‘bird kids’ books when I did my Mendel series. I had and purposefully changed some character traits to avoid a more succinct comparison. I was told that my cat fantasy was as good as the Warrior’s series. Wasn’t even trying for that, but was flattered. I didn’t even look for comps on my book coming out on Monday.

  6. Comp titles are a struggle. I’ve not used them when I was doing the query thing for that very reason. Also I see the “popular” books splashed across social media, but my reading preference is mostly indie which won’t be as well known for querying.

  7. I am awful at comp titles. My reading list is really focused on classics. Thank you for this kick in the right direction… I need it. I like the way you’ve broken this down into elements to look for for similarities too. That helps it not feel so all-encompassing. Someday I’ll get there.

  8. I’m not great at comp titles. I like how you break it down, so I’ll try that out. I definitely need to read more in the genre/age group.

    Actually, based on this post, I went to Overdrive and checked out a book that does fit the genre/age group. I’m thinking (so far at least) that it also fits the atmosphere and elements.

    Before this one, I was looking more at books that fit the format (epistolary), which made comparing titles way more difficult.

    Great post!

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