Monday, April 01, 2013

Use Amazon to Find Great Comp Titles

First of all, welcome to my rendition of the A-Z Blog Challenge! Blogging from A-Z is all about getting words out there, every single day. As this is probably my biggest struggle as a writer, I'm all about it. Plus, I can't wait to make some new friends in the blogosphere. So welcome to my blog, and let me say now I'm looking forward to visiting yours!

The A-Z Blog Challenge was started by Arlee Bird, and as such, since today is "A," we're all giving him a shoutout. It's a phenomenal idea, has only steamrolled into a larger and larger community with each year, and I'm happy to make this year my first year participating. Thank you, Arlee, for creating such a fun challenge! You can check out Arlee's blog at Tossing It Out.  

My other A for today is Amazon. Or specifically, How to use Amazon to Find Comp Titles. If you're like me, you've heard a lot about comps: pick a good one, don't use a mega-bestseller, find one that reasonably represents what you write, but isn't such a precise match that an agent or publisher will think your book has already been written.

And if you're like me, this left you scratching your head. How on earth are you supposed to find a book that meets all those criteria?

Well, we have a super, free, and easy to use comp title resource in Amazon. The guys and gals over there spend all their days aggregating data—who says they should be the only ones who get to mine it?

Here's how to do it.

  1. Find a book you've read that's somewhat like yours.
  2. Check the "Customers Also Bought" links at the bottom of the page. Most often, these are going to be books in the same genre. Read their summaries, download a sample of the ebook to your tablet if you have one to check out the writing style, etc. BUT DIG DEEP! The first few books in this pile will be the books everybody is reading; those mega bestsellers that don't do you a lot of good as a querying author—as much as my books might be like John Green's, I don't want anyone to think I've  put on airs about how big I think I might sell. So click through three, four screens until you see books you haven't heard of before. Check *those* out. 
  3. Check the sub/sub/sub genre. These days, Amazon thrives on metadata. (See a great post by agent Kristin Nelson on that here.) You'll see books being ranked as #1...but in Romance > Cowboy > Billionaire > With Pet Dragon > Who Turns Into Human. It seems silly, but it's a huge boon to you. Go to the lowest part of that sub-genre of a book, and see what other books are there with it. Then back up a level (to "Billionaire" in my fake example), and check out the books there. The more detailed you go in the hierarchy, the more likely you are to find books that are close to yours...and ones that not everyone on the planet has heard about, but which nonetheless have decent sales. 
  4. Look at the person who wrote the most popular review. You can say a lot of very valid bad things about Amazon reviews. But one great thing about them is that prolific reviewers often review in the same genres, because that's what they like to read. So find the most popular review, or the review you agree with most, and click on "See This Person's Other Reviews." Boom. More comps. 
  5. Hit your library. If you're made of money, great. Go ahead and add these cool books to your cart and click "purchase" (or load them on your e-reader). But if you're of more modest means like most of us, add them to your cart...and then print your cart and hit your library's website instead. You don't need to own your comp titles, and you don't even need to read all of every single one of just want to find books that are enough like yours that you can lift them up as good examples.

So have fun, but be careful...looking for comp titles is sure to land you a new favorite author or two.  Happy hunting!

This month I'm participating in the A-Z blog challenge. My theme is "writer hacks," or 26 shortcuts you can do as a writer to get the most out of writing and the journey toward and through publication. Find out more about it at, and hop around to read the other cool blogs that are part of the challenge!


  1. Sounds like some great advice from someone who knows. Thanks I will have to give it a try.

    Will be looking in again.

  2. Wonderful post, Jessica. I've always liked the idea of using comp titles, but I have a hard time finding books that are similar to mine. I'll be giving this a try as well.

  3. Jessica, Great Amazon advice! It's nice to meet you through A to Z.

  4. I had never heard the term 'comp title' before. Great advice.

    1. I probably should've longhanded it! I beleive it's short for "Comparison title." But yeah, they're useful (and a darn good way to find cool new authors, too.)

  5. Great post. I love learning new things. Thanks. A-Z fellow challenger.
    Kathy 794

  6. Jessica, thanks. I had never heard of 'comp title' before either.

    Nice to meet you through A to Z!

  7. Great post! What a great tip! I should have been doing this all along.
    I'm visiting from the A to Z Blog Challenge
    Peanut Butter and Whine

  8. Great tips! I'm following your blog now :) It was tough for me to find the right comp title to begin with, but I tried many of the things you suggested, but not necessarily the reviews and what other reviewers read. I will try that out on Goodreads. :)


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