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Queries and Agents => Query Help => Topic started by: lucabura on October 16, 2021, 11:47:59 AM

Title: How important are comps?
Post by: lucabura on October 16, 2021, 11:47:59 AM
Hi all, just looking for some feedback on how important comps really are in one's query. I have been reading since I was a child, and have a particular love of classic literature. I have written a book that would be classified as fantasy, spent the last few years working on it, and would really like to comp it. I've researched a bunch of agents and some of them are currently open to submissions. What I can't figure out is the comps. Over the last few months I have been reading more modern fantasy books and none of them necessarily fit really well, though I have a few more on my list to read. Besides writing, I work three jobs, as a healthcare professional in a COVID inundated world. I find that I am really low on time to be reading a bunch of books, many of which run around 600+. I really want to just try to query and see what happens at this point, but, like I said, I have as of yet no good, solid comps that weren't written quite a long time ago. What are your thoughts? Is not having comps a quick dismissal from the agent's pool? Should I cool my jets and continue slogging through these fantasy novels to find a comp, let the agents I've researched windows for submissions close? Any advise and thoughts greatly appreciated.
Title: Re: How important are comps?
Post by: louise00 on October 16, 2021, 02:18:35 PM
I've heard agents say in interviews that part of the purpose of queries is to show that you know the current sales market and to show there's a place in that market for your book. They want to know where in the bookshop this would go, and which demographic would buy it. So, in that sense, they're pretty important.

A slight cheat, once you have one comp title sorted, is to look up GoodReads and Amazon. They both have sections something like 'Readers also enjoyed'. Dig into those summaries and reviews for ideas, sometime a comp title for that book would work for yours too. I've seen authors get rep with an unread comp title.

The comps don't need to be a perfect fit either. You can do something along the lines of 'the humour of X' with 'the epic-scale of X'. Also, could you focus on shorter books?
Title: Re: How important are comps?
Post by: sfallon on October 16, 2021, 04:16:23 PM
I had some trouble coming up with comps for the same reason. I've spent a lot of time reading classics, as well as really popular books in my chosen genre that were written too long ago to really count. I've been reading more modern books similar to mine recently in order to make up for it, but what really helped me narrow down the list of possibilities was using the search functionality of a website called The StoryGraph. It lets you search by things like mood and pace, as well as genre and publication year. I found that made it much easier to tell if a book was going to be similar enough to mine to count, while also giving me a really good idea of all the books that have been published in my genre in a past couple years (market research).

I hope that helps. I can understand how being a healthcare worker in these current times can be both stressful and time consuming, so I think that you deserve all the free time you can get!

The only other idea I have is that you could try asking here in the forums to see if anybody knows of a book that would make a good comp for you. Never hurts to try, right?
Title: Re: How important are comps?
Post by: lucabura on October 17, 2021, 10:49:35 AM
Thanks to both of you, these were really helpful insights. I will definitely look at The StoryGraph, that sounds like a very helpful way to search for comps. I do feel like I'm wasting my time sometimes researching these comps, finding these books, and then spending a bunch of time in them only to find that they really aren't great fits. Some of them are enjoyable for sure, but not necessarily great fits for comparison to my book. There's certainly a lot out there in the fantasy genre these days to sift through. Fortunately the one book I am listening too on audiobook currently seems like a decent comp so I'll probably look into books that are similar to it on Goodreads, etc.