Picture book comps are a challenge, or at least they are a challenge for me! As an educator and parent, I have read thousands of picture books, but when it comes to finding picture book comps, I freeze. Comps are my querying nightmare!
What are book comps?
A book comp in is simply a comparison title. It should be a book of the same genre, sub-genre, length, and style as your manuscript that is both recent and successful. For a query letter you need to mention a few comp titles. It is very important to explain in your query why the titles you’ve chosen are good comparisons.
Why do we need comps?
Comps help an agent assess you and your work. Comparison titles help determine if your book will sell. After all, publishers are looking to make money with your book. A comp may not convince the publisher your work is worth investing, but will give them a better idea about the fit for your book. Comp titles show agents and editors that you have done your homework, and that you understand your book’s place and potential in the marketplace.
The importance of using a comp title
A comp title distinguishes your book from others that are similar. For example, Gertie Saves the Day is a book about Groundhog Day. We all know that there are a number of books already written about Groundhog Day. You should be very specific in your query letter about how your book is different. By providing another published book that is similar or could be compared to yours, in subject matter, theme, style, structure, character, or tone helps to distinguish your book.
Where can I find comp titles?
The first place to look is on your own bookshelf. I don’t know about you, but I have a treasure trove of picture books that I have read and saved. Reading picture books is key to writing this section of your query letter. You need to be very familiar with the comp titles you are using.
Amazon, GoodReads and Edelweiss are great places to look for comp titles. You can search using keywords, subject matter, or theme. All of these sites are free and take a little practice to narrow down your search. Don’t forget your local library and librarian too when searching for your comp titles.
Last, but not least
Once you have found your comp titles, you should have at least two, you need to check a few things such as the date the book was published. All comps should be recent and it is suggested no more than five years. The picture book market is constantly changing. There are new trends and older books will have a different word count or structure and will not be a good example.
Next, you will want to check out the publisher. Only traditionally-published, books should be used as comp titles. Self-published books are not acceptable. Do you homework and research the publisher to ensure they are a traditional publisher.
Consider checking reviews for your comp titles. Concentrate on industry reviews these reviews pack a punch. Unfortunately, reader reviews are meaningless to agents and publishers even if they are all five star reviews.
Be sure you have specified how your book is similar and how it is different. You want the agent or publisher to know you have an understanding of where your book will fit into the market.
Yes, picture book comps are a challenge. I can say that with practice it does become easier. It is time consuming, but it is an investment in the future of your book. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.
With gratitude …
I am so glad you’re here. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I am grateful that I can share my writing journey with you. It is an endless journey of learning and growing. A journey that I am enjoying.
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A request …
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