Finding comp titles for the novels or memoirs you are creating is important for a few reasons. First, seeking similar titles helps the writer actually see what has been published recently in their genre, on their topic. It shows the writer what’s selling and perhaps why.
However, you are not only reading a possible comp title to see how it is like your work-in-progress. You should be reading the title to see how your book fits into the literary landscape on the topic or in the genre. How is your book different from the titles that are already out there? It’s not that we want to write something that is exactly the same as what is already out there. We want to write on the same topic, or in the same genre, but handle the problem—or tension—in a unique way.
This is what makes writing so difficult. Creating a story with both internal and external tension is not cookie-cutter science. Yes, as writers we realize that certain plot points—I call them movements—need to happen at certain times in the story. I know particular genres need their “specifics” in stories, too.
But as far as I can see, it’s not the same old, same old—even in specific genres. In my YA adventures, I need more than just a different setting, a different national park. I need different external problems, different family situations, different characters who have specific internal troubles they are trying to overcome.
We read comp titles to see how our stories are similar just as much as to see how they are different.
Comp titles are also necessary for preparing a book proposal for traditional presses. Book publishing is a business. Gone are the days in which writers just sat and wrote.
Nuts! I was born too late. That’s what I like to do.
Now writers need to be marketers as well. That’s a whole other topic I’m just learning about. Please offer any tips you may have. Thanks!
However, I believe comp titles can help even small presses or self-publishers because comp titles show the writer what’s out there in that literary landscape. And knowing what’s out there will help the writer to market his or her books. Writers will know where to place their titles.
I’ve been looking for recent memoir titles to read dealing with education or personal experience in college. I’ve read Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, Educated by Tara Westover, and J.D. Vance’s memoir, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. They all deal with the protagonist realizing he or she needed an education to move forward in life.
I may need to broaden my searches. I should consider inspirational works; the power of choices, of believing in yourself, of finding or beginning a dream and seeing it through with perseverance. I think there are different genres for memoir. I think there is one called “Life Experience.” I should go to Amazon and take a look at life experience memoirs.
*Please offer any recent memoir titles you’ve read that deal with life experiences; trying to better yourself or learning to believe in oneself, so I can add them to my reading list and see if they could be used as comp titles for my college memoir. I truly appreciate all your comments. They help me to move forward with my work.*
So how do you look for comp titles for your books? Please share any insight you may have here at Adventures in Writing.
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