Although not mandatory, it can be helpful to put published titles that compare well with your manuscript into your query. Being able to give comparable titles can help the reader of your query imagine where your book might fit into their list, the marketplace, and who your audience might be. Good comparables can put an image into the reader’s mind and may help them pitch your work down the road whether it’s an agent pitching to editors or an editor pitching your book to their sales team.
Finding comparative titles can definitely be tricky. You don’t want to compare your book to a bestseller. That’s a big promise to fill. It can even get the eye roll from some because bestseller comps can be very overused.
You do want to use titles that are recent and are in same category and genre, have the same target audience, and are not so obscure that that the person reading your query has never heard of it. Sounds like a tall order but it can be done!
Where to find comps?
You read a ton in your genre, right? Well then you should know what’s out there! Go to your local bookstores and the library for research (many libraries have a new books feature on their websites where you can order in the latest acquisitions.)
Try places online like Goodreads and Amazon who have an ‘if you liked this book you might also like that book’ type of feature.
Is a movie a comp? Well… I did use a ‘this book meets that movie’ comparable in the query for one of my manuscripts and it got a lot of requests so it can work, but as with every other comp it needs to be a true comparison to your manuscript.
Use your best judgment. Think about what your comparables might bring into the mind of someone who has not read your book. Be sure it is a true, fair comparison. If you can’t make one that’s okay. Like I said, putting comparable books into your query is not mandatory. But if you can do it, it can definitely help show what you’ve got!