At the MM Agency, we can strongly see the value of authors giving us one to three well-chosen comparison titles/authors from the last five to ten years. We believe that the best way to improve your writing and your submission package is reading widely within your book’s genre, particularly focusing on titles published recently and on authors who are leaders in that field in terms of book sales, prizes, or critical acclaim. However, we sometimes receive emails from writers saying that they haven’t read any books like their book. Therefore, our hope is that it’s helpful to know why we are asking for this information.

It helps us place the book precisely within the market.

It entices us in by giving us a clear picture of what a book is like before we’ve read it.

Good comp titles/authors also indicate that the author has read within the genre that they are writing in and therefore, is likely to be attuned to the wider market for this book and for any future books. In other words, our ideal writer has researched the industry that they want to enter and has carved out where their niche would be.

We use comp titles/authors to pitch our authors’ books to editors so that they can imagine it clearly and place it within the market.

And now without further ado, here are some tips about how to approach comparison titles and authors.  

You might suggest comparison titles or authors that have similar plot points, or characters, or setting/s, or themes to your book. A hypothetical author might comp their book to Monica Ali’s work, for instance, because the author is writing an intergenerational, family story with sharp social criticism set in London, which also explores identity, class differences, and neighbour relationships.

But you might also pick a book or author due to the writer’s style, tone, or the general feel of the book. We would suggest that this can be the most useful way to use comps because your covering letter will tell the agent the key facts about your book, but you can most clearly communicate the atmosphere of your book through comp titles/authors, which is something that could really hook an Agent.

So if another hypothetical writer has created a memoir about their tumultuous marriage and divorce that led to them reflecting deeply upon their life and deciding to remain single, they might comp to Conversations On Love. This work of non-fiction focuses on how we find love, how we sustain it, and how we survive when we lose it, exploring this topic through interviews with experts, alongside commentary from the book’s editor, Natasha Lunn. As you can see, the hypothetical writer’s memoir touches on some themes in Lunn’s book, but these books are quite different, so the writer would instead be indicating that their memoir is soul-searching and looks at hard questions, that it has an accessible literary writing style with crisp, clear language, and that the narrative trajectory ultimately moves towards hope, with an optimistic, comforting feeling.

In summary, if you read a book and think, “this is a bit like my book,” then add it to your list of potential comps and always remember that you can create the fullest picture by listing multiple comps that highlight different aspects of your book.