How to Find Comp Titles for Your Fiction Novel Using Amazon (Book Market Research Part I)

Since I’ve been revising my novel and considering self-publishing, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to things like researching reader expectations within my genre(s), copywriting, positioning a book by selecting appropriate categories and keywords on Amazon (or elsewhere), considering my book’s comp titles, and generally understanding how marketing works (and also what it is). A lot of this, I realized, has basically been my attempt to do some basic market research.

Why is this important?

Well, if you are a writer, like me, and are curious to learn how doing any of this stuff can actually help you become a better writer—regardless of whether you plan on self-publishing or going the traditional route—then you should definitely check out this first part of my video series!

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Writing Endings is Hard

Writing endings is hard for me—not because I have to decide what happens but also how and why it happens. Endings are more than just the who, what, when, and where. That stuff is basic storytelling logistics. The hard part, in my opinion, is the emotion behind the words. Engineering a specific feeling or, at the very least, a combination of storytelling mechanics that gives readers the space to feel a certain way.

You know when you read a story that just “feels” right and makes you feel…something? Yeah, well my ending doesn’t have the “feels right” thing yet—not all of it, anyway—and I’ve rewritten it many times. The best part? Chances are if I don’t feel it (whatever “it” is), then neither will the reader.

Parts of my ending I am happy with. I edited and sliced things that weren’t working with my updates on the rest of the story. I even added an epilogue with content I originally thought would work well as an opening to Book II though, after further thought, I decided it would feel out-of-place there and instead would be a better end cap to Book I. (It’s told from a secondary character’s perspective in a place that the protagonist can’t physically be, but it helps to add a sense of resolution after the protagonist’s story ends.) Also, during my rewriting slog in this very narrow—yet highly important—section of my novel, I came up with some more material to use in the second book.

Still, I’ve got a few paragraphs (the last of the final chapter) that I’m just not sure how I want to swing.

Thing is…I don’t think this is something that can or should be forced. Since I’ve been stuck on this for a few weeks now, I decided to leave what I have and continue working on the rest of my rewrites and edits. That should give my subconscious enough space to work something out in the meantime. (It’s crazy what your brain can do while you sleep/eat/live or otherwise do stuff that has nothing to do with the thing you actually want it to do.)

I’ve already gotten some of my larger rewrites done during this slog, so that’s nice. Today, I’m just going to skim through and see which parts have the largest sections that still need rewrites so I can work on those over the next couple of weeks then print those out and scribble down any edits I might need to do on just those parts. (Anytime you change something, imo, it needs to be examined in the scope of the larger framework surrounding it to make sure it still flows.) Then I can work on all the other edits—the easier stuff like grammar, missing words, the order of words, sentence structure, word choice, etc.—from beginning to end. That way, the chronology of the story is fresh in my mind, and I’m seeing it as the reader does.

That’s the plan, anyway!

I Did a Thing: My Author Newsletter + Other News

You guys, I did a thing today: I officially launched an author newsletter, and anything that has to do with the actual release of a new novel from me will be in it.

Reasons to Join My Newsletter (a.k.a. ‘The Club’)

If you’re already subscribed to this blog, you might be wondering, “Why would I need to subscribe to your newsletter? Won’t you be sharing the same things that I see on the blog?”

Well technically, you don’t need to do either—I won’t be holding the virtual gun to your head or threatening to have you sleepin’ with the fishes…this time—but you’re reading this for a reason (or two, or three…) and I actually won’t be sharing the same things on my newsletter as I will on the blog. One of the reasons you’ve been following me might include living to see the day that I finally publish my novel—in which case you might be highly interested in my newsletter over my blog, you see.

Why? Here’s why:

  • My newsletter will exclusively share snippets and full-length chapters from my novel beyond the typical previews you find on Amazon along with other cool exclusive-y content; my blog will not. 😦
  • My newsletter will give you the chance to read my book for free before the rest of the world because you like the idea of writing perfectly honest reviews about them; my blog will not. (Serious fans only!)
  • My newsletter self might solicit your opinion on things like, “Which book description sounds more exciting/interesting?” My blog self will not.
  • My newsletter will definitely let you peek at book cover designs before everyone else and give you access to special giveaways; my blog will make you wait a bit longer and have more limited giveaway opportunities. (Meanie!)
  • My newsletter will alert you whenever there’s a special promotion for my novels; my blog will just assume that you’re already obsessively checking my sales page(s) for these things when they go up.
  • My newsletter is basically like a sexy VIP speakeasy with 21st-century e-cigars and legal whiskey; the only thing required is your soul a secret password (a.k.a. an email address and name). I mean my blog is cool, too, but everyone hangs out there. Y’all are too hip to be square now.
  • Basically, my blog will continue to bemoan my writerly struggles—such as how I’ve been reworking the ending of my novel for like 2 weeks straight now; my newsletter will make it sound like I’m a #winning professional.

Not convincing enough? That’s alright, there’s still the good old blog. 😉 As for the rest of you believers…I got a pretty ochre button for you to get clicky-clicky with:

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JOIN MY NEWSLETTER!

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You can also subscribe to “The Club” later by visiting the blog and checking out the top-ish right corner of the page below my blog name—y’know, in case you have a change of heart and come to realize how desperately you need to see me publish The Perpetual Novel plus have the opportunity to yell at me via email until I do so. (I’m kidding about that last part, mostly.)Read More »

Blending Fantasy & Espionage + Revisions Update

The other day, I was Googling stuff about fantasy novels that have prominent espionage threads in them. (There really aren’t very many when compared to other genre mashups.) Anyway, I came upon this article entitled “An Uncoiled Spring: The Absence of Real-world Tensions,” which examines how some science fiction and fantasy stories go about incorporating “the devices and techniques of espionage fiction,” as put by author Chris Gerwel.

As a writer who’s been working on a novel that combines (science) fantasy conventions with espionage trappings, I find this highly interesting.Read More »

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty | The Chandra Tribune

A Novel Aesthetic: The City of Brass

What do you get when you take everything you love about a book cover design and translate it into a home decor or interior design mood board? A whole new kind of novel aesthetics.

A Novel Aesthetic: The City of Brass | The Chandra Tribune

1. Gold Beaded Table Lamp | 2. Espresso Carved Arch Console Table
3. Marrakesh Kilim Pillow | 4. Pierced Moroccan Lantern
5. Bornova Side Table | 6. Oversized Moroccan Wool Pouf

7. Olhouser Chesterfield Chair | 8. Elliana Mirror
9. Square Embossed Accent Table | 10. Vintage Hamadan Medallion Distressed Rug

I got the idea a couple of weeks ago while sitting in my living room, a copy of S. A. Chakraborty’s debut fantasy novel The City of Brass sitting next to me. It’s been sitting there for some time now. Like weeks.

Why? Because the cover and interior book designs are just so freakin’ gorgeous.

You can’t tell in the digital photo, but all the brass color parts have a metallic sheen to them, and the title is also embossed. It’s just a really well-done design. (The only issue I have is the interior font itself; I find it too distracting and wouldn’t be able to read the whole novel with it. Luckily, I’ve already read the e-book version instead.)

So why create a mood board? Well, some of you may know that my background is in interior design. I used to work with clients and would create mood boards to give them an idea of what updating their homes could look like. I used a different kind of layout and format in that case, but the board I made for The City of Brass is a similar idea only less literal—this goes here and that goes there—and more conceptual. Also, this one is less a historically or culturally accurate interpretation and based more on a mood or feeling, hence the term “mood board.”

Anyway, I thought this would be a fun little exercise. It’s been a while since I made one of these. 🙂 I started with the rug (it’s one I actually have in my home now; highly recommended!) and branched off from there. You can check out the Pinterest board I started with, as well, if you’d like to see more furniture and home decor that’s in a similar vein to what’s on the board.

My living/dining room as gone through a lot of changes recently. | The Chandra Tribune
Living room and photograph by Yours Truly.

What are some of your favorite book cover designs?

Do you have books that you keep around just because they’re pretty? Also, would you like to see more of these kinds of boards? Let me know in the comments!