Comparable Titles



My publisher is trying to compile a list of “CompTitles” for my short story collection. It’s a tricky business. These titles are used to help distributors figure out how to market the book. They can use the titles as a good short hand (“This is like an Olive Kitteridge set in New York City”) when talking to bookstores so that the bookstores can figure out how many books to order/pre-order.

What they want is very specific though. A comp title should be a book published in the past 3 years that is also a short story collection, best if by another debut author, published by an independent press. If there are other connections (like it’s set in NYC, or in a park, or that the stories are all connected by place), that is also a help.

If you have any ideas that meet the above criteria, I’d love to hear them.


2 thoughts on “Comparable Titles

  1. Knowing the criteria and the purpose of the comps is helpful, but the real trick is finding out what methods the publisher is using to find these titles. How do you find independently published short story collections about a park? This is not a question of a simple Google search. Do you ask around in bookstores? Comb through book reviews or Publisher’s Weekly?Ask your friends? How do you know how successful your comps have been? If this information is to be provided mainly for bookstores, it seems that bookstore owners would be the key people to consult, yet that would be an imposition on them. Of course, you can always query the readers of your blog(!) but that is not the most reliable source. I’m thinking about this for my next book, too, and, being at the beginning of this search, it looks like such a big hill to climb. Once I get into it, it won’t be so bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, the comps don’t have to be about parks – that’s probably too narrow, but recent debut authors with small independent presses.. They won’t use these titles, for instance, to sell the books to the public. What they are using the comp titles for is to give the book sellers the sense of how many copies they should pre-order/order. So, I could say this collection is like Olive Kitteridge because it is a collection of connected short stories, but it’s not comparable because I am a first-time author and that book won a Pulitzer and was made into a TV series. I don’t know all of the details, but I’ve been looking over recent short story collections on Amazon.We can mention Olive Kitteridg later, apparently, when we’re giving book sellers talking points, but I guess this is a different stage of things. I’ll let you know what I find out. It’s all new to me, and nice to have a publisher who is really looking at all of this.


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