About “comps,” as if you asked

Last week, I blogged about possible strategies for re-releasing The Sun Child Chronicles. This week I’m blogging short and sweet (or down and dirty) about a specific marketing issue. No matter how TSCC is published in the end, I will need “comps” to market it. And they’re not that easy to find! (If by some chance you want to know more, try this excellent article by literary agent and author Paula Munier.

Comps explained

If you’re part of the book-industry world, you probably already know about comps, but for those who aren’t let me Lou-splain. (See what I did there—like mansplain but with Lou instead… Not that funny. Okay.) I’ll keep it short. These days, when an author tells an agent, editor, or potential reader about their book, their expect it to name books that are like it. But you don’t stop there, generally. It’s best if you can say the book is like some kind of mashup—though of course it is still supposed to be a wholly original take on a similar theme.

Comp examples

Here’s an oversimplified example. Someone might have a book that’s about an orphan boy whose parents left him magic beans. But unlike the old tale, he climbs the bean vine up to a secret wizarding school. Comp: Jack in the Bean Stalk meets Harry Potter.

Or, by author. Like say, a murder at a horse race takes place in Victorian England, and a private enquiry agent competes with police to solve the crime first. Comp: Dick Francis meets Anne Perry.

Or maybe the multiple comp mash-up: An organization of masked swordsmen in a future earth run by buffoon aliens are tasked with culling a certain number of people each year to avoid overpopulation. Comp: Scythe meets The Mask of Zorro, with a touch of Men in Black.

The Challenge for The Sun Child Chronicles

I’m starting to try to figure out the best comps for this series, but it’s going to take some research. I mean, for best results, comp books should have several of the following elements:

  • A male, teenage protagonist
  • Important characters of all ages and genders
  • Racial diversity
  • At least some LGBTQ+ characters
  • Parallel worlds
  • Interdimensional boundary lands
  • Some real-world feel contemporary scenes with fantasy elements
  • A “sword and sorcery” world
  • Magic
  • Future-feel tech
  • Fantasy creatures
  • aliens
  • Warrior characters and epic battles
  • Romantic subplots
  • Fated destiny
  • Coming of age
  • Humor or wit

I will find them!

But you can help me. If you know a book that you might think fits the bill, let me know and if I’m not actually familiar with it, I’ll add it to my reading list. Leave a comment here, or direct message me on Twitter or via my Facebook page. I’d love to hear from you.

The list so far

So far, I’ve had these suggestions:

  • Tempests and Slaughter (The Numair Chronicles book 1) by Tamora Pearce
  • Dark Rise (Dark Rise book 1) by C.S. Pacat
  • The Wheel of Time series (Robert Jordan completed by Brandon Sanderson)
  • The Ranger’s Apprentice series (John Flanagan)
  • Works by author Anne McCaffery and author Amy Lane

I haven’t decided if any of them are “the right comps.” Opinions welcome. 🙂

Before you go, here’s a few words from the revised (but still not set in stone) 1st chapter of book 1, Key of Behliseth

The closer he got to his shed, the blacker the night seemed. Mist rose up from the gorge, swirling and twisting before it settled ghostlike over the small structure. But an owl called and flew over the pines, drawing Lucky’s eye eastward. To his surprise, the sky there still held a violet memory of the sun. The round moon hung blood-red between the twin rock spires known as Death of the Gods.

Like an omen.

Shit. I hate omens.

That’s all, folks

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Green dragon

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

  1. It’s been a long time since I submitted anything for publication. So ‘comps’ is a new one for me. And, learning about them here, I’m more afraid to submit now more than ever. LOL.
    Thank you for this AND, yes, you will find yours! Best of luck!

    1. Vastine! It’s so nice to hear from you. Thanks for dropping by the blog and leaving a comment. Really, comps are the trend du jour, I think, but the concept may be one that sticks around a long time. But they don’t have to be too challenging. One way authors do them that I didn’t mention) is to say their books are going to be enjoyed by readers of a different author. For instance, “If you enjoyed Anne Perry’s Victorian mysteries and courtroom dramas, you will love my book Something About Murder in Victorian England. (Made that title up, but now I want to write it.) Anyway, I hate to think I ever did anything to discourage you from getting some work out there. I’ve always loved your writing. And if you don’t include comps in your submission, it’s probably not an automatic deal-breaker. 🙂

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