I am honored to post another guest column before RU begins hiatus later this month. RU has been a go-to site for me to learn and hear from favorite authors who inspire me including some of the founders Tracey Devlyn and Adrienne Giordano. Thank you to all the hard working RU staff for keeping this site going as long as you have!
There are many times in the writing and marketing process when you will need to know authors and titles comparable to yours. This should not be a difficult task, and you will likely find new titles to add to your TBR list as you research! Here are some tips to finding comp titles.
- Who could help me? Ask a Librarian. Seriously. I’m not just saying this because I’ve been one for 20+ years. This is the type of question library staff members are asked daily. When I worked at the readers advisory desk, I was asked everything from finding other stories set in Key West, ménage titles with more than three people, gay amateur detectives and more. I loved these questions. The more specific; the better. Look at titles on your local library’s online catalog and study subject headings to help you start finding new comp titles to yours. Library subject headings are more specific than Amazon and often clickable to find more titles.
- But my titles are sweet and x author is spicy. Don’t I have to be discerning? The goal here can be different based on who is asking. You can be on broader subject and author lists when you have a couple books or a series published. The same reader can sometimes be in a mood for sweet and at other times – Whew! For example, I like all kinds of recipe and food themed stories. Give me your cozy mystery chefs, your hot male chefs, your small town bakery owners. If there is a food fiction list chances are I’ve read them all.
- But my publisher or marketing firm asked for authors and titles just like mine. For marketing purposes right when the book is launched you may want to find a few more matching elements on comp titles – like level of heat, subject themes and tropes. For example, a small town second chance romance with closed door love scenes will list a couple other sweet small town or second chance stories.
- My book is a cross between a popular Netflix show and a bestseller. Maybe, but please don’t mention that. Don’t do this in queries, either. Your book should not be listed as the next J.D. Robb in your promotional material or queries. Mentioning comparable titles that are from popular mid-level or rising authors will show that you know that market and trends. If you write futuristic romantic suspense like J.D. Robb, find readalike titles for her (and here’s a great site for readalikes), look at who is suggested for her and see if those titles share elements in common with yours. Drill down a bit to find a good match for you.
- My publisher or marketing firm keeps matching me with other authors of my race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. Happily, many people are moving away from this lazy way of organizing authors for all lists. Those lists can be good references to make sure you are aware of and are reading diverse authors, but readers may find your books more easily when they are matched with others in similar subjects. If you are an African American romantic suspense FBI writer, then find other FBI series to list as comp titles. (Also, please let me know as I want to read your books.)
- Not all paranormal creatures are the same, either. Sci Fi and Fantasy female authors have also, like diverse authors, been lumped together in every list for a long time. Just like all historicals are not Regencies, not all futuristic or werewolf stories are the same. (How do I match more closely? Go back to step 1.)
- Readers tend to stay with the same types of books. Not always. They make pick up some book everyone is talking about and it will lead them into new interests. I saw this the most when working at the teen desk. Readers who wanted to try romantic comedy one week would want teen pregnancy stories featuring dads the next. Continue to think about how new books could match ones you’ve had out for a while. This is when you will want to be on, or curate some broader lists. Can you post lists on your blog or author page? I post reviews and lists of what steamy romances I’m reading at facebook.com/quickieromancereviews as I wasn’t sure what to post on a traditional author FB page.
- I’ve never read books exactly like mine. Of course not, but there are many titles that readers who like your book will also enjoy. Your comp titles will change and improve as you read more and different match ups occur to you. How would a reader describe your books in one sentence? Woman travels through time and meets sexy highlander= time travel match up, highlander historical plus modern times matchups. Which elements stay with the reader?
- Don’t forget style. Is humor a central element? Strong women? Think about authors and series like Stephanie Bond’s Body Movers. Those have humor, extreme situations, strong female intelligent lead managing a colorful cast of people in her life and a persistent hot law enforcement professional. There is plenty to match there. Or stories with SEAL teams. You know there has to be a jungle or a rescue mission in those.
- Reach out to matching authors. When I started writing steamier romance, I reached out to other steamy romance writers who used humor. Many had advice, and were willing to do newsletter swaps and even reviews. Some I never heard from. But it was well worth it for those who did respond.
Enjoy helping readers find you and other authors as you seek your comp titles for different purposes.
Bio: Amy Alessio is an award-winning librarian with a black belt in karate. She writes librarian reference books, including the co-authored Pop Culture Programs (ALA 2018). Her fiction includes the Amazon bestselling Alana O’Neill mysteries with vintage recipes. She also writes steamy romance under another name and is the 2018 VP of the Passionate Ink chapter of RWA. She teaches graduate-level young adult literature and webinars on book trends and social media. She is a romance reviewer for Booklist. Learn more at http://www.amyalessio.com/.