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.
This could TOTALLY be Percy and Finola if he were a strawberry-blond instead of a brunette.
Here on the blog, we spend a lot of time discussing the importance of book covers and branding in getting our books into the hands of the right readers, the ones who will love our particular genres and stories. It probably goes without saying, but in case it doesn’t, I’ll say it now: book titles are an important part of the overall package that positions books.
With that caveat, you can probably see where this post is going. Turns out, the title I selected for my next book, a title I’ve loved and attached to and had at the forefront of my brain while I wrote the book, might not work for my romance sub-genre. It all started when I was working on cover concepts with my new cover designer (this is designer number three, for those of you following along at home). After several discussions of the book with her, I woke up one morning to find an email in my inbox that changed the way I now see my beloved title.
As she had been setting up a design and working on fitting the title into it, it struck her that Three Husbands and a Lover sounded like a reverse harem erotica title. If you haven’t heard of the RH subgenre, it’s one woman with multiple male lovers, and tends to be erotica. Um, no. Not my genre, and not what I intended communicate with that name. If I thought it was just her opinion, well-versed as she is in the romance field, I could ignore it. But now that she’s put that thought in my brain, all I can picture when I see that title is my heroine surrounded by her four lovers. Continue reading
If I had to take out a personal ad to describe my current writing dilemma, it would go something like this: Multi-genre author with deep-seated issues around choosing book titles seeks readers with sharp, intuitive minds to help choose an appropriate marketing title for a book going out on submission.
You can probably see where this post is going. You, dear readers, are the sharp, intuitive minds in question. A few weeks ago, I didn’t realize I’d need your help, as I was merrily skipping down the primrose path with my beloved working title for a soon-to-be-submitted story nestled safely in my blue and yellow basket. (Yes, metaphorical Nancy is a weird amalgam of different fairytale characters. And she skips. Just go with me on this one.)
Then approximately a week and a half ago, I was on a video chat with Jennie Nash, one of my writing mentors, and a few other people when the conversation turned to submitting manuscripts to agents and editors. Jennie mentioned the importance of having an email subject line that captures the recipient’s attention. Since most query emails will have the prescribed subject line “Query: Book Title,” that means a marketing book title – without the benefit of a full book cover to convey genre and tone – might carry more weight than the final title on a published book. The title needs to convey Continue reading
If it looks like a romance, and sounds like a romance …
My story needs a new title. I’m driving myself crazy here, and I’d appreciate a helping hand.
I mentioned in the comments last Sunday that I’d had some push-back at RWA about my title, Rent & Cornflakes. A very nice editor said “Not a fan of the title. It isn’t really catchy, nor tells you anything about the book. I wouldn’t think this was a romance.” A couple of days later, I pitched an agent. She asked my title, looked surprised for a moment, and then said “Oh. Is it women’s fiction, then?” I said no, it’s a love story. We moved swiftly on to talk about the book, but I knew then that Rent & Cornflakes wasn’t doing me any favors.
The final nail in the coffin was the feedback I got a couple of days ago from the Lone Star contest. Unlike Elizabeth, I did not final, but I got some really useful feedback, including the following:
I really like this story. The only thing I don’t like is the title. This book deserves a better title befitting a single title romance, so re-title it. A title should be part of your marketing package and should interest readers to buy. Your title doesn’t do that. In fact, I probably wouldn’t even read the blurb of a book with that title. Everything else is good.
All righty, then. Continue reading