Tech Tricks for Writers: Looking for Comps

Here’s a tech trick for writers who are looking for comps.

When you are querying a book with an agent or editor, it’s important to have good comps for your manuscript.

What is a comp? It’s a book, movie, or story that is a good comparison for your story. It’s telling an agent or editor, “If you liked Star Wars, you might like Dune.” We do this all the time when we recommend books to friends. Why is it always so much harder with our own books?

A second version of a comp is the “X meets Y” combo comp. It’s a chance to use two or more well-known stories, movies, or TV shows to describe elements of your story. Maybe your story is “The Repair Shop” meets “90210.” (OK I would read that.)

One way to find good comps is to consume tons of media. Watch and read it all. Then record the themes and major plot points of everything you read and watch so you can create a database of useful comps.

But if you don’t have endless time, one tech trick I use is the massive database of online book selling. I look for what other customers liked when they viewed a book I think is like mine.

On the big online seller website, type in a book you think is similar to yours. Then scroll way down past the sponsored ads to “Customers who viewed this item also viewed.”

Another place to get good ideas for comps is on Goodreads. Look up the book that is like yours, then look for the “Readers Also Enjoyed.”

Your local library should also offer this feature when you look up books on their website.

Here is a big article called How to Find Compelling Comps from Jane Friedman that offers even more help on finding good comps for your next novel.

Practice comping some of your favorite books or movies in the comments below and share them!