Two Editors Talk Comp Titles for Picture Books

What IS a comp title? And do you really need to include them in your queries and submissions?

Comp titles can be looked at a couple of different ways. Publishers use them to position your book in the market, which is why they’re important to editors. But even before you send your book to an agent or an editor, it’s a good idea to read comparative titles so that you can make your picture book stand out.

When you study picture books to improve your own, we refer to those as “mentor texts” in the industry. Comp titles and mentor texts can be the same thing. In the following highlight, Melissa Manlove suggests that the more mentor texts you study, the better.

But going back to comp titles . . . how DO you find them and use them in queries and submissions?

In the following Submission Ready video, Ariel Richardson and Melissa Manlove, two editors at Chronicle Books, give advice on how to do just that.

I actually go to Product Details on Amazon and check the Amazon Best Sellers Rank to see how some of my friends’ books are selling sometimes. The lower that number is, the better a book is selling at that point in time. 

Diana Murray's Unicorn Day is currently selling very well, but as Ariel and Melissa pointed out, you're probably safe with a book ranked anywhere under 100,000.

Another author I know said that she usually advises people not to include comp titles because the majority use them incorrectly. Using them correctly, though, shows you’ve done your homework. It makes an editor’s (or an agent’s) job easier, and everyone likes a person who’s considerate enough to make life easier.

5 Tips for Including Comp Titles

  • Use recent titles.
  • Don’t use bestsellers, but use books that are recognizable and doing well. You don’t want to look delusional, but you also don’t want to set your book up to look like a failure. Remember that the whole point of using comp titles is to position your book in the market.
  • There are a lot of recommended reading lists that come out at the end of the year. Those could be a good place to look for comp titles.
  • Ask a librarian for help finding comp titles!
  • The book doesn’t have to be just like yours. (If there’s a book out there that is just like yours, then yours becomes redundant, doesn’t it?) You can point out something it has in common with your book, such as: a theme, a character, a subject, an audience, or some kind of storytelling device.

Do you have any questions? If so, you can ask them in the comments!

Thanks for reading!

Blog Contributors

Instructor Photo: Myrna Foster

Myrna Foster writes and edits content for Storyteller Academy and the WriteRiders Newsletter for SCBWI Nevada. She has spent a lot of time teaching and coaching children, including five years as a preschool teacher. She's also worked as a journalist, and Highlights High Five has published six of her poems. 

Arree Chung is an author/illustrator and the founder of Storyteller Academy. Arree’s Ninja! series has received starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal. Kirkus also gave a starred review to Mixed, which recently won the FCGB award. 

Today Arree lives a creative life, making stories for children. Arree spends most of his time making picture books, writing middle grade novels, and sharing his love for art, design, and storytelling with kids and dreamers everywhere.

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