How Do I Find Comps for My Book?

The dreaded comps!

When you’re trying to interest an agent or publisher in your book, you’re often asked to provide “comps” — other books that could be compared to yours, or books that might compete with yours.

A good book proposal always has a “Competition” or “Comparable Books” section, and even if you’re self-publishing, it helps if you give readers a frame of reference in the form of similar books.

How do you figure out what books to include? Do you look for books with the same premise or plot? Same time period? Same writing style? What to do?

I’m going to make it easy for you. Ask yourself, “Who are my readers? What are they reading right now?” That can help you identify your comparable books.

Keep in mind that people tend to read numerous books on the same nonfiction topic or in the same fiction genre. You’re adding your book to what’s already out there. Where does your book fit? What does that stack of books on your ideal reader’s nightstand look like?

If you can’t readily identify six to ten books or authors whom your potential readers are already reading, then stop what you’re doing and (1) become clear on who your audience is, and (2) get a lot more educated about what’s already out in the marketplace for them. Knowing your audience is the first step to being able to identify your comps.

Have you had trouble identifying comps? What have you found helpful?


If you should decide to invest in some personalized counsel, I offer coaching for unpublished authors here: My Coaching Services


Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Elizabeth Donne on March 4, 2021 at 8:56 AM

    As a debut author, I have heard the term “comp books” used frequently, with many (often contradictory) descriptions as to what your book should have in common with a comp book. You are the first person who has explained it simply and clearly. Thank you, Rachelle!
    I now know exactly what I’m looking for 🙂