Friday, July 01, 2022

I hate the perfect comp for my book

 I've found the perfect book to use as a comp. It works because of the theme and the concept BUT I just dislike the writing (even though he has won several awards) and didn't find it to my taste at all. Should I still use it?

I know how hard it is to find effective comps. The only good thing about sniffing out good comps is that it requires you to read a lot of books. How we suffer for our diligence!

Comps aren't just about your book (theme and concept); comps are used to get an idea of the size and vitality of the audience for your book.
But you're not the audience for this Perfect Comp. You didn't like it.
How many other people felt the same way?
You have no way of knowing.
BUT every time I think I'm the only person in the world who didn't much like Very Popular Book, I'll see it mentioned on Twitter and a swarm of people confess to not liking it much, either.
One thing you can do is check the reviews on Amazon, particularly the ones with three and four stars. Here's where you find "oh hell, I was looking forward to this based on the reviews, and blech, what a disappointment."
The more of those you see, the less likely I'd be to use Perfect as a comp.
Here's the guideline: use books that you want to be compared to.


E.M. Goldsmith said...

Great advice. My comps have grown stale so I am looking for new ones. I found two that I just love. The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri and Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse.

Here's the thing. Both are in my genre. Good. I have the evil Empire that Tasha Suri writes about and the forbidden magics that Rebecca Roanhorse features. However, beyond that there is not much similarity. Not nearly enough dragons or screaming guitars or flaming poo throwing monkeys in the comps. Both sit on the same bookshelf I hope my gorgeous book gets to sit. Both comps are the general same length as mine. Will these still make good comps?

Also, someone here suggested a comp for my book that looked really promising and I wrote it down but can't remember where or the name of the book or the author. It was a book about alternate worlds that were accessed via magical taverns. Can anyone remember the name of this book? Even if it is not a proper comp (which it sounds like it would be beyond perfect - my book is all about magical taverns), I really wanted to read it and am going to be looking for a new read really soon. Thank you.

And speaking of new reads, finished The Gatekeeper by James Byrne last night. It's action, adventure - pace, fun, funny. Great read if you just want a bit of fun and adventure. Loved Dez Limmerick - what a great character. He's a Liverpool supporter so automatically love him. Spectacular name. What a well-paced book. I love reading outside my genre occasionally - it is like clearing your pallet between sips of wine. Also, can help with pacing if you write in one of the thick genres like historical fiction or epic fantasy. Helps me anyway. But I'm probably just weird.

NLiu said...

E.M.! It was me who did the mentioning and the book is called Havenfall, author Sara Holland, pubbed 2020.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

NLiu Thanks you so much! I have ordered it. And think I might now have all my comps. Looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the recommendation.

Katja said...

My book is odd (so I've been told) and there is no comp for it. And I'd never know of any - neither for my first nor my second book - so I wouldn't be able to query where comps are required which includes our Shark. That's the end of that. ☹

Barbara Etlin said...

Katja I don't know whether these are suitable comps for your book or not, but here are two YA novels in which the protagonist has OCD: Total Constant Order by Crissa-Jean Chappell and Turtles All The Way Down by John Green.

Katja said...

Oh thank you so much, Barbara, how very kind of you. ❤
Actually, I do know Turtles All The Way Down and yes, it also ends in a similar way where the two friends turn out to be one in the end (only that I'd like to claim that my ending/twist is better than Green's one line, haha 😆).

I don't consider mine YA. It's definitely adult, so I am not sure I could use it? And here's the next problem: mine starts with the two main characters being 37 years old and the books cuts back to the past several times and in big chunks making up the majority of the story. We see the two characters as children, teenagers/young adults and then adults all the way until the past timeline catches up with the present timeline where they are 37 years old.

I guess this is a problem? Because it's not 100% adult. Maybe it's more than one category and that actually is a problem, I guess...

Like I said, it's weird.

Craig F said...


My entire philosophy about writing is to look at the world different;y. I do that anyway, so the writing is fairly easy, some days.

Then I have to find little ticcy-tacky boxes that point at my books. At times I think those I choose laugh their asses off at me. Even when I fight the good fight to find anything that might even have one thing similar to what I write.

The stuff that is usually on best seller lists make me cringe, those that don't aren't in the same galaxy as I am.

I did try to query without any, and a year later, I was still nowhere, so I will try harder.

John Davis Frain said...

I wrote a rom-comp about two twenty-somethings looking for someone similar to themselves to prove to their respective fiance that they were worthy of marriage. Disaster strikes when each fiance falls for a doppelganger, but the two protagonists find each other in the end.

And kill each other, because I write crime, not romance.

NLiu said...

E.M. you're welcome!

John Davis Frain that was a killer last line. (Literally.)

I *hate* finding comps! Worse than writing a synopsis AND a query times bazillion. I wish someone would invent a comp search engine already.

Donnaeve said...

Comps are a headache. A lot of readers don't understand them! They think the book should be JUST LIKE x, y, z.

The ones used for Saints are Crawdads and Four Winds. I think they suit it - one has all the Southern feels, and the other is set during the Depression. Check, and check. But, you will always find those who don't think they even come close.

I'm actually a bit wide-eyed about looking at 3/4s. Not so much the 3s but definitely the 4s. I have found the ones who think comps for my book are horrible are the 1s, 2s, and some of the 3s. This also goes to my way of thinking that 3s are (becoming) a not so great rating. What I think is pretty surprising is when there's a 3, and the person is absolutely raving about what a great read it was.

Also, here's a nit I have: If you give something a 3.5 you should round it up to 4 stars. Not give it a 3. I know ratings are not accounting BUT, if you are going to give it 3 stars even though you are saying 3.5, just make it a 3.0 and forget the .5. (already!!!)


Karen McCoy said...

I had what I thought were solid comps regarding theme. However, one was a horror story (not what I was writing) and the other had a queer main character (mine didn't) so I decided to eschew them. I am trying a query round where I'm not including comps at all; I've heard that it can often be helfpul to wait until rep and a conversation with an agent to see where a book might actually land marketing-wise. Just a thought.

Katja said...

Agent Jessica Faust once said that she doesn't mind if there are no comps at all. She did say that, I swear. 🙂

AJ Blythe said...

I hate comps. It's the worst part of querying :(