How can you find better comps?

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about how to find better comps…

If you’ve never written a book, or never looked for an agent or publisher, the phrase “better comps” is likely mysterious to you.

But the need to find better comps — other successful books that have already been published and are similar to yours — is acute for authors seeking publication. Listing your comps is something you’re required to do every time you reach out to an agent or a publisher.

Why? It gives these people an instant understanding of what your book is trying to achieve and it helps them decide it they want to try to publish it. But, yes, finding a comp is painful.

A recent Tumblr post on this topic provides some excellent advice that you might find helpful. The author of the post begins by describing the “pretty rigid” rules surrounding comps (rules I know that cause many writers to chaffe). In short, the comps must be:

  1. Recently published (within the last 2-3 years is ideal)
  2. Same genre and marketing category (YA books for YA, sci-fi books for sci-fi, etc)
  3. Same format (comp books for books, graphic novels for graphic novels, etc)

So, how do you find better comps? Here is the helpful list of suggestions from the Tumblr post:

  • Amazon’s “customers also bought” recommendations.
  • EBSCO Novelist – A search engine for libraries, usually available through your local library if you’re in North America.
  • Goodreads Lists.
  • Monthly New Releases – Sites often track new releases by genre.
  • BookBrowse – A thorough book recommendation site
  • Literature Map – A site suggesting similar authors based on your input.
  • Writer’s Digest, The Writer, Poets&Writers – and any other current magazine.
  • Your local librarian.
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