Finding Comparable Books

When you’re trying to interest an agent or publisher in your book, you’re often asked to provide “comps” — other books that could be compared to yours, or books that might compete with yours. A good book proposal always has a “Competition” or “Comparable Books” section, and even if you’re self-publishing, it helps if you give readers a frame of reference in the form of similar books.


One of the most common questions I’m regularly asked is, “How do I figure out what books to include in my comps?” People get all hung up on it, especially with fiction. Do I look for books with the same premise or plot? Same time period? Same writing style? How do I know what to include?


I’m going to make it easy for you.


Ask yourself, “Who are my readers? What are they reading right now?” Those are your comparable books.


Keep this line in mind:


compare apple to orange


 


“People who enjoy the following books are likely to enjoy my book.”


You can use that line in a proposal, then follow it with the comparable books, and for each one, a brief explanation of why your book would appeal to those same readers. This approach frees you from trying to decipher what an agent is looking for, and instead, use those comps to identify your audience.


If you can’t readily identify six to ten books or authors whom your potential readers are already reading, then you need to stop what you’re doing and get a lot more educated about what’s already out in the marketplace, and who your potential audience is. If you can’t identify your audience, then how will you or a publisher sell your book to them?


Providing “comps” is all about helping your agent, your editors, your marketing team, and your readers to capture a vision for your book.


Too often, writers tell me, “I’ve looked and looked, and I can’t find anything quite like my book.” You and I both know that’s a cop-out. Think about your potential readers, and figure out what they are already reading. It’s that simple.


To read a little more about how to create a strong Competition section for your book proposal, click .


Do you know what books your potential readers are already enjoying? How do you research this?


 


If you should decide to invest in some personalized counsel, I offer coaching for unpublished authors here:


I also offer online courses here:


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