Hello! I’m running hot out the gate on a new month of NaNo and, if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time at all, you know what that means. For those who don’t, it means I’m scaling back on the attention I give the blog so that I can churn out a mega-ugly little first draft by the end of the month. But I’ve got some fun comics planned, and some very enlightening reblogs from people who are smarter than me. Our first up is courtesy of Andrea Backofen via Penguin Random House, who will tell us all about comp titles- why we need ’em, how to find ’em, and so forth. Enjoy!
Comp Titles—An Elevator Pitch for Your Book
Every author’s work is unique. And yet, early in the publishing process, authors are often asked by agents or publishers to provide comparison (“comp”) titles. We asked Penguin Random House editorial, sales, and analytics teams why comp titles are important, what makes for a meaningful comp, and how to find them if you are asked.
What Are Comp Titles and Why Are They Useful?
Comparison (“comp”) titles are books that are similar to yours in one of two ways: Either the content is comparable or the sales trends are expected to be similar. For your publishing team, comp titles are extremely important. The comps help editors making acquisition decisions to figure out who and how big the audience might be for a specific title. Editors also look at the sales trajectories of comp titles: Will Book X be the type of book to backlist forever, like Book Y, or go strong out of the gate and then fade fast when the publicity dies down, like Book Z? Marketing teams also find comps useful when putting together marketing plans for individual titles.
Additionally, comp titles are essential for the sales group: They give the sales reps a good shorthand when selling in to retailers. Reps have only thirty seconds to pitch each book with some accounts. Being able to say “It’s like x and y” can be one of the most effective ways to get attention from the buyer and to set expectations about audience and ballpark sales potential.
While our publishing teams often add additional comp titles during the publishing process, it is immensely valuable for them to understand what comp titles you suggest, so you can align your expectations about framing and positioning early in the process.
What Makes a Good Comp Title?
Here are a few things to ask yourself when determining if your selection is a good one…