A question of comps

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paddismac

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I'm finding that most of my best comps are indie authors.
When querying agents, is it better to use only trade published, agent repped authors/books as comp titles?
 

Woollybear

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I'd say yes, because comps show 'where the book belongs.' If you are comping to indie books, you are saying your book sits alongside those.

Having said that, comping a highly successful indie book strikes me as totally fine. Sometimes great books are indie published and yet receive wide acclaim.

That's just off the top of my head, 2 cents.
 

anaemic_mind

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Daft noob question... but how do you tell what's indie vs trad published?
 

paddismac

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Thanks! This makes sense to me. The indie authors in question have some big sales numbers behind them, but I didn't know what the current etiquette was.
 
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Brigid Barry

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I'm finding that most of my best comps are indie authors.
When querying agents, is it better to use only trade published, agent repped authors/books as comp titles?
Yes. Comp titles are so you can demonstrate your knowledge of what's selling in the market, as well as who your audience is.
 

lizmonster

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Daft noob question... but how do you tell what's indie vs trad published?

"Indie" is a bit of a fuzzy term. I assume the OP means self-published.

If you look at a book's Amazon listing, it'll tell you the publisher. If the author is the publisher, it's self-published (obviously :)). If the publisher is an imprint you haven't heard of, google it - a lot of self-publishers (myself included) create an imprint for branding purposes, but it's not a publisher in the same sense as, say, Simon & Schuster.
 

anaemic_mind

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"Indie" is a bit of a fuzzy term. I assume the OP means self-published.

If you look at a book's Amazon listing, it'll tell you the publisher. If the author is the publisher, it's self-published (obviously :)). If the publisher is an imprint you haven't heard of, google it - a lot of self-publishers (myself included) create an imprint for branding purposes, but it's not a publisher in the same sense as, say, Simon & Schuster.
Ta (y)

I sense a spreadsheet in my future to start logging publisher names...
 
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byarvin

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"Indie" is a bit of a fuzzy term. I assume the OP means self-published.
You have to be super-careful here! Self-published authors will often call themselves "indie authors," but there are a whole category of traditional, commercial publishers that call themselves "indie" or "indy." Those of us who are published by them will often refer to ourselves as "indie authors" too.

Confusing these categories in a proposal aimed at an agent - or worse - an indie publisher, will look really bad. If your book is published by Countryman Press or Reaktion, that's absolutely not self-publishing, but it is indie (or indy).

In the worlds of commercial and academic publishing, self-publishing should be described as such. It's the clearest explanation. The topic of indie publishers should be an important one for the serious writers here, but it's overlooked all too often. That's another thread though.
 

Brigid Barry

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For what very, very little it's worth, one of my comps is self published. I went with it because it also happens to have over 2k reviews (>4 stars) on Amazon.
 

mccardey

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Daft noob question... but how do you tell what's indie vs trad published?
It says on the spine who the publisher is, if it's trade-pubbed. Also on the copyright page although for the life of me I cannot remember what the word for that page is, and so now I'm entirely flummoxed and can't include it in this answer.

But it's there as well.
 
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mccardey

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there are a whole category of traditional, commercial publishers that call themselves "indie" or "indy." Those of us who are published by them will often refer to ourselves as "indie authors" too.
But those are still trade publishers, aren't they? Just independent trade publishers.
 
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anaemic_mind

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It says on the spine who the publisher is. (If it's trade-pubbed)
I only read ebooks these days so no spine to look at.;) From a look through a couple of my latest buys the publisher info seems to be in the back of the file, rather than the front.
 
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byarvin

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But those are still trade publishers, aren't they? Just independent trade publishers.
Only from the point of view of the self-published. The experience of working with them is entirely different than working with the big 5 or self-publishing. Independent and University presses are each their own universe and present their own possibilities. Lumping them all into one group makes it harder to see what's actually out there on the market.
 
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mccardey

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I only read ebooks these days so no spine to look at.;) From a look through a couple of my latest buys the publisher info seems to be in the back of the file, rather than the front.
Well there you go, then. Well done. You've answered your own question. Now tell me what the word is for the page that the pub.info is on, and I'll give you a cupcake.
 

lizmonster

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Only from the point of view of the self-published.

Well, no; as I understand it, "trade" is the right term - they're part of the book trade, small or large.

University/academic presses may be different, but those would be academic publishing, not indie.
 

mccardey

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Only from the point of view of the self-published. The experience of working with them is entirely different than working with the big 5 or self-publishing
Certainly it is different in some cases - but they're publishing for the trade, aren't they? Therefore trade publishing?

eg: Allen & Unwin
 
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paddismac

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I'll jump back in here and clarify that my use of the term indie did mean (to me) self-pubbed. I didn't mean to step on any toes, and I apologize if I did.
 
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byarvin

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Never in my life (I hope) have I done such a bad job of trying to say what I wanted to. Yes, they're all trade publishers, but lumping the many different types into one group can make an author's life much more difficult.

I'll try better next time! Please understand that this is something of an identity crisis for me. I was an indie author for decades and even though nothing in my life or work has changed, suddenly, I'm not.

I've got a bunch of proposals that will go out later in the year. I'll have to have it worked out by then.
 
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Woollybear

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I think the confusion stems from small, independent presses calling themselves indie presses, and independent individuals calling themselves indies.

Lots of self publishers that I cross paths with here and there call themselves indie, because they do everything themselves. They are doing the thing independently of anyone else. They call themselves indie published.

It's sort of like the confusion between trade and traditional, and people using the weird term 'trad publishing.' Which hits the ears funny, but most people grok it.

Then there's the label of vanity publishing, which might refer to a vanity press (which you pay, and so they make their money off their authors not their sales) or might refer to self publishing, which some writers disparagingly call "vanity publishing."

Lately, some self publishers say true vanity lies with those who insist on a trade deal, who refuse to get their work out in any other way... it's vanity, the argument goes ... thereby bringing this particular term full circle, heh.

But "self publishing" is clear. :) I self publish.

ETA. Oh, and then there's hybrid. Which means different things, too.
 
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Unimportant

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I only read ebooks these days so no spine to look at.;) From a look through a couple of my latest buys the publisher info seems to be in the back of the file, rather than the front.
You can make a list of your possible comps and look them up on Amazon, which will list all the relevant information including the name of the publisher.
 

anaemic_mind

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Well there you go, then. Well done. You've answered your own question. Now tell me what the word is for the page that the pub.info is on, and I'll give you a cupcake.
*Digs out my new copy of The Oxford Style Manual I was reading last week because my Covid-mush brain can't remember and I can always use more cake*

It is called.... the Title page verso / copyright / biblio / imprint page

😇
Now I need to lie down. That book's heavy. :sleepy:
 

byarvin

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I'll jump back in here and clarify that my use of the term indie did mean (to me) self-pubbed. I didn't mean to step on any toes, and I apologize if I did.

No problem for me, I just feel that in a place like this where we discuss the book business in detail, we should be discussing the fine distinctions that our business is riddled with. I'm really pleased to have had the chance to state my case.