The first book I ever wrote has languished on my hard drive for years. I was woefully ignorant when I started this book, but still, it wasn’t bad. A well-known publishing company held onto it for two years, promising acceptance and revision letters as editors revolved and changed and the company reorged. Ultimately, they rejected it.
As time passed, I learned more about writing. I did a couple of strong edit passes on it, and a few months ago, needing a project, I decided to look at it again and see if I could salvage it.
By now, it needed only a light edit, which I have completed. A cover is in the works. But I’ve never been happy with the title.
The premise is this: My heroine, Maggie, is 35, divorced with three children. She lives in a small town in Iowa and works full-time. She’d like to remarry, but she doesn’t have much time or energy for dating, and in any event, she doesn’t see any likely candidates.
The gods decide to intervene, and Jupiter, or Dr. J, as he likes to be called, sends Venus and Mars to present the suitor that will be Maggie’s heart’s desire. Venus can only point the way, but she’s powerful. The way is clear.
Unfortunately, the cell phone connections between the Roman pantheon and Cedarburg, Iowa, are not at all clear, and Venus doesn’t get the directives she needs. Instead of pointing Maggie to the guy who runs the hardware store, as she should, she instead sends Maggie first to the guy who’s rotten to the core and then to the guy who’s an incredible bore and finally to the guy who comes to the door, thanks to Dr. J’s garbled communications. The sequence of bad dates is almost enough to put Maggie off men altogether, but Ed, who runs the hardware store, comes through, and they ultimately find their HEA. (For those who follow the blog closely, this is the book I mentioned a few weeks ago, when Maggie glues her eyes shut.)
So, the title. The working title for this book has been Calling for Maggie, because of the bad cell phone connections. I’ve never liked it, so I submitted some suggestions to my critique group for comment:
- Dial L for Love
- When Love Has Your Number
- The Right Time for Love
- Love Steers the Stars
- When Love Comes Calling
- When Love Calls
And finally, in frustration:
- If Love Calls, Answer the Damn Phone
My critique group hated all of these and said I needed to steer clear of the phone thing, so we brainstormed more titles. Some of these are thoughts or impressions rather than titles per se:
- Kismet and Kisses
- Crossed lines
- Missed connections
- Miss Connections
- Ordinary Magic
- On Any Other Day
- Sticky Situations
- If Only It Was You
- The glue that binds
- Under Her nose
- Love Unawares
- Love Unexpected
- Could It Be You?
Of these, I liked If Only It Was You, Love Unexpected, and Could It Be You? although I don’t like punctuation in titles and I felt uncertain about whether to use the subjunctive in If Only It Was You. One thing I’ve learned about titling books is to check to see how many others have been published with the title you’ve chosen. When I checked on Amazon, Love Unexpected has nine exact matches and many more close matches, such as A Love Unexpected and An Unexpected Love. So, no.
I did a search on Could It Be You? and found two nonfiction titles and a couple of music albums without the question mark. So, maybe.
And then I wrote some variations on Could It Be You? and searched for those titles, and this is what I found:
- Could It Be You? (2 titles, nonfiction)
- It Shouldn’t Be You (1 title)
- It Couldn’t Be You (0 titles)
- If Only It Was You (0 titles) (all that notebook crap)
If Only It Was You had no matching fiction titles, but the search on Amazon turns up many listings for a diary-type notebook with a quote on the cover, which comes in lots of colors. Each color is loaded separately, so there are about twenty entries for If Only It Was You, even though the notebook is not called that. So, in the event my book would load after all these notebook covers, I won’t choose this title.
Right now I’m leaning toward It Couldn’t Be You, partly because Maggie thinks exactly that when she goes out on her bad dates with the wrong guys. The other reason is that I wrote two more books using the setup of Venus/Mars coming to offer romantic help to those who are lost or stuck in a rut. I think one of those books is probably not salvageable, but the other might be. If I decide yes, then it would be nice to have a similar title for it, and then I could go with It Shouldn’t Be You.
That said, I’m not really having warm fuzzies about these titles, either. Maybe that’s just creative exhaustion. What do you think? Do you like any of them? And if not, do you have any suggestions? Any and all ideas gratefully received.