Comp titles: What I Used When Querying/Pitching My Novel and Why

In the publishing world, comp titles (comparative titles) are very important. The comps help editors make acquisition decisions to figure out who the audience will be for your book and how well your book will sell;. Editors also examine the sales records for those books. Comp titles can also put a literary agent or reader in the right mindset when trying to pitch a book.

The overarching theme of my novel, The Talking Drum, is urban redevelopment/gentrification. For my comps, I chose books that have done well in the marketplace that contain that theme:

Restoration Heights, by Will Medearis–A debut novel about a young artist, a missing woman, and the tendrils of wealth and power that link the art scene in Brooklyn to Manhattan’s elite, for fans of Jonathan Lethem and Richard Price. Reddick, a young, white artist, lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, a historically black Brooklyn neighborhood besieged by gentrification. He makes rent as an art handler, hanging expensive works for Manhattan’s one percent, and spends his free time playing basketball at the local Y rather than putting energy into his stagnating career. He is also the last person to see Hannah before she disappears.

The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy–The Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteen children grown and gone—and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit’s East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage.

Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, by Sunil Yapa–Grief-stricken after his mother’s death and three years of wandering the world, Victor is longing for a family and a sense of purpose. He believes he’s found both when he returns home to Seattle only to be swept up in a massive protest. With young, biracial Victor on one side of the barricades and his estranged father–the white chief of police–on the opposite, the day descends into chaos, capturing in its confusion the activists, police, bystanders, and citizens from all around the world who’d arrived that day brimming with hope. By the day’s end, they have all committed acts they never thought possible.

No One is Coming To Save Us, by Stephanie Powell Watts–JJ Ferguson has returned home to Pinewood, North Carolina, to build his dream house and to pursue his high school sweetheart, Ava. But as he reenters his former world, where factories are in decline and the legacy of Jim Crow is still felt, he’s startled to find that the people he once knew and loved have changed just as much as he has. Ava is now married and desperate for a baby, though she can’t seem to carry one to term. Her husband, Henry, has grown distant, frustrated by the demise of the furniture industry, which has outsourced to China and stripped the area of jobs. Ava’s mother, Sylvia, caters to and meddles with the lives of those around her, trying to fill the void left by her absent son. And Don, Sylvia’s unworthy but charming husband, just won’t stop hanging around.

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Lisa Braxton

Lisa Braxton is an Emmy-nominated former television journalist, an essayist, short story writer, and novelist. Her debut novel, The Talking Drum, is forthcoming from Inanna Publications in spring 2020. She is a fellow of the Kimbilio Fiction Writers Program and a book reviewer for 2040 Review. Her stories and essays have appeared in literary magazines and journals. She received Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest magazine’s 84th and 86th annual writing contests in the inspirational essay category. Her website: www.lisabraxton.com

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Author: Lisa Braxton

Lisa Braxton is an Emmy-nominated former television journalist, an essayist, short story writer, and novelist. Her debut novel, The Talking Drum, is forthcoming from Inanna Publications in spring 2020. She is a fellow of the Kimbilio Fiction Writers Program and a book reviewer for 2040 Review. Her stories and essays have appeared in literary magazines and journals. She received Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest magazine’s 84th and 86th annual writing contests in the inspirational essay category. Her website: www.lisabraxton.com