Choosing Comp Titles Outside the Genre You’re Writing

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Oct 23 2018

I seem to be getting a rash of questions lately about the etiquette and importance of comping books (using competitive titles in your query). This latest asks if you can comp books outside of the genre you are writing in.

Perhaps in a follow up post, would love to know your thoughts on comping outside one’s category. Can someone writing adult comp to YA (e.g. “THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE for grown-ups”)? Or can someone writing historical fiction with an adventure story at its core comp to a contemporary adventure story?

And my answer is “absolutely.” In fact, if we’re going to go there and you happen to be writing the adult version of Dry Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Schusterman hit me up. I’d also like to see women’s fiction that taps into some of the same issues (bullying) that Wonder tackled. I’d also love to see fiction that would be compared to Wild, Eat, Pray, Love or even Into the Wild (mostly Wild by Cheryl Strayed though).

So yes, comping your book to those outside of the genre you’re writing can work beautifully.

3 responses to “Choosing Comp Titles Outside the Genre You’re Writing”

  1. Avatar Tara Leigh says:

    I would also add that when I submitted my Wall Street romance (Louise Bay & Lauren Layne hadn’t published their Wall Street series yet) so I used Billions & Wolf of Wall Street to show that finance can actually be made sexy.
    This question came up at a workshop Jessica Alvarez & I participated in. I gave the same answer as above and, if I remember right, Jessica said that she is most drawn to the blurb within the query & the voice that comes through. If you’re having a hard time coming up with relevant comps, she would rather have none than misleading ones.

  2. Avatar AJ Blythe says:

    Interesting. I hadn’t realised you could comp outside your genre,

  3. Avatar Kenneth Meyer says:

    Thanks, this is a very useful short para on “comping” (I’m shopping around a historical fiction novel).