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pollykahl
08-28-2007, 11:05 PM
I'm thinking of going with A Long Strange Trip as my memoir title. I see on Amazon there are a few books with that in the title (What A Long Strange Trip It's Been (http://amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw/103-2982543-4727005?initialSearch=1&url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=a+long+strange+trip&Go.x=11&Go.y=9), etc), including one plain old A Long Strange Trip. I've noticed that other new books coming out sometimes have the same titles as older books.

I don't want people to assume my book has anything to do with the Grateful Dead, but it was a long strange trip, and the title aptly describes my book. I also don't want to impede on anyone else's title if it's considered offensive to do so. Any words of wisdom?

Lauri B
08-28-2007, 11:39 PM
When you sell your manuscript to a publisher, the publisher will very likely change the title, so don't worry too much about it right now.

pollykahl
08-29-2007, 04:03 PM
I am hoping to be agented, since most publishers will only look at agented submissions. It seems to me that a good title would help me at least get a glance when I am seeking agents. Would appreciate any feedback on my title idea. Thanks.

Lauri B
08-29-2007, 06:50 PM
Well, your title doesn't indicate what your book is about. Did you do a lot of drugs? Did you follow the Dead? Did you take a road trip? Those are the first things that spring to my mind when I see a title like this one.
It's not that you'd offend anyone by taking the same title as other books, but you want people (agents and publishers included) to pick up your book because they want to read YOUR story, not because they are interested in a book that they think might be about a Deadhead on tour. The particular title you've chosen is pretty overdone, actually. I just took a quick look on Amazon, too, found 6 other books with the same title.

pollykahl
08-29-2007, 10:25 PM
Titles often don't indicate what the book is about. The important thing is that it be intriquing or spark interest in looking inside. If that title doesn't do it for you (meaning anyone reading this post, including nomad) feel free to say so. That would help me get a feel for what kinds of reactions it elicits.

My original title was The House on Hurlburt Road. It's the name of the road I grew up on. I eventually realized that the title wasn't zippy enough and didn't mean anything to anyone but me. Unfortunately, when A Long Strange Trip occurred to me, I found there were a few others, as seen on the link in my first post. I like it, but would not want to impede on other's territory if there's some sort of rule about repeating titles, nor would I want my book to be effected by the sales ratings of the others books (none of which look like they were very successful with readers other than Rolling Stone Magazine fans, for example.)

If anyone would like to make suggestions, it's a memoir about growing up in a hippie family. There was a lot of indiscriminate sex, psychodelic drug use, and other hippie lifestyle kinds of activities. Part of the drug use involved chemical engineer dad manufacturing acid and mescaline in the basement lab, and we kids were sometimes used as guinea pigs. We also moved a few times so the "trip" part of the title could also refer to that. However, we were not Deadheads per se. (More like Jimi Hendrix sort of hippies. I don't think we even had one Grateful Dead album.) The book has a lot of other forms of child abuse in it as well. What started out as a redemptive book has morphed into two books. This one is about what my life was like during those years, and ends with me leaving. The second one (working title Home Coming) is about redemption and recovery, and includes chapters about my therapy, work in the abuse recovery movement, becoming a therapist, making a family, etc.

Thank you in advance for any constuctive criticisms and suggestions on how I can improve my title.

Lauri B
08-29-2007, 10:51 PM
Now that you've explained what the book is about, A Long Strange Trip would be a perfectly appropriate working title, and probably one that would catch an agent's attention. The title works well for what your memoir is about.

The point i was trying to make earlier is that I've read a lot of memoir pitches with similar titles (I received at least 3 memoirs over the years titled, "A Long Strange Trip" or something similar--one was a travel memoir, and two were about abusive childhoods); but what most people think of when they see that line is the Dead, hippies, etc.

I think you'll probably run into some issues with a title like that when you go to publish, primarily because no publisher will want to go up against the title of a book by Rolling Stone, but that's not a problem for you now.

pollykahl
08-29-2007, 11:00 PM
Thanks nomad, I appreciate that. Too bad I wasn't the first to think of it, just think how catchy it would be. How common is it for publishers to change the titles of books, and is it different for non-fiction and memoirs than it is for fiction?

aka eraser
08-30-2007, 12:38 AM
It's very common that the publisher changes the title. My contract initially stated that the publisher had the final say on the title. I had to fight some to get it changed to say the title had to be mutually agreeable.

Very many nonfic/memoirs seem to have subtitles that further advance the theme. You might want to add one to yours or consider making yours the subtitle.

pollykahl
08-30-2007, 01:39 AM
I'll think about that, Frank. I could go to all sorts of fun places with a subtitle. Thanks.

johnrobison
08-30-2007, 06:19 AM
Publishers don't buy a title. They buy the content. If your book is big enough, they are going to test hundreds of titles even to the extent of passing them among impromptu "focus groups" to see what works best.

With my book, we considered a title that might tell a reader more of what the book is about, but in the end we concluded the title we started with, and the cover design, made a powerful combination.

Originally, Look Me in the Eye was a chapter name in my book, and I originally preferred the name of another chapter, The Ferry to Detroit, as the book title. But then one of the first readers of my book suggested the swap and once I saw it, it was obvious. And there are other Look Me in the Eyes in print, but none with a connotation like Long Strange Trip.

Personally, I would not use that title because of the Dead connotation. I'd come up with something new, and be prepared for the publisher to have different ideas anyway.

kimmer
08-31-2007, 06:56 AM
It's good for a working title but I agree with others that it's probably going to change. I just went through a title change. The marketing folks are very involved in that. I went to local bookstores and interviewed the staff, brought along various titles and provided the findings to my publisher. They were thrilled that I was able to provide them with this street-level research. I also emailed it out to my reader advisory group to see what they liked and incorporated their comments. Who is your target audience? I would ask those people ahead of time because they might inspire you to try something new.

My original title: Street Guide to Scholarships: What every family should know

New title: Scholarships 101: The Real-World Guide to Getting Cash for College.

I definitely think that my new title will sell more books.

kimmer

Stijn Hommes
08-31-2007, 01:09 PM
You don't offend anyone by using the same title as an existing book, but it's quite possible you confuse readers. They might be thinking your book is the other one. If at all possible, I'd try to find a unique title that is just yours.