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lynn avendar
03-13-2005, 07:40 AM
How does one come up with a viable title that tells the reader what is waiting for them inside this book? Do you have to write the story first in order to find it? Does it pop out at you before you begin the first words on the page? Does it even help with writing the story, to know what it's called?

Susan Gable
03-13-2005, 06:28 PM
How does one come up with a viable title that tells the reader what is waiting for them inside this book? Do you have to write the story first in order to find it? Does it pop out at you before you begin the first words on the page? Does it even help with writing the story, to know what it's called?

Well, Lynn, like everything else in writing, it depends on the writer. It also depends on the publisher. <G> Authors actually (at least in my experiences) have little control over the final title that goes on the book.

So, put a title on it for now. And as you write the book, there may be a phrase that jumps out at you - as in AHHA, that woud make a great title for this!

I know some authors who just call the book "Frank & Holly's Story" or whatever the names of the hero and heroine are.

Currently I'm batting 50% on keeping titles for my books. Half of them have been the titles I gave them, and half of them have been different. Harlequin in particular has certain types of titles they use. Whether that's good or bad is subject of frequent debate. The marketing department claims the title must tell the reader something about the story, what's inside, so that the mom who's looking at books in the grocery story with a baby screaming in the cart and a 4-year-old yanking on her pant leg can quickly grab a book that interests here. ("The Cowboy's MailOrder Bride" for example.) On the other hand I hear a LOT of complaints about the titles from the readers. :Shrug:

Now, in case you wanted to know my personal preferences, I like to have a title on the book when I'm working on it, but it is subject to change even by me before I send it in. <G> Because sometimes I find something better as I'm working.

I've also had to submit lists of alternative titles. And sometimes I end up with about 30 on the list.

Susan G.

jdkiggins
03-13-2005, 07:05 PM
How does one come up with a viable title that tells the reader what is waiting for them inside this book? Do you have to write the story first in order to find it? Does it pop out at you before you begin the first words on the page? Does it even help with writing the story, to know what it's called?

Lynn,

A title sometimes comes to me while writing, and there are times when I have a title before I begin writing.

I agree with Susan, it depends on the writer and the publisher. Whether books or articles, the title you pick is not necessarily the title that the publisher will put on the finished piece.


I've also had to submit lists of alternative titles. And sometimes I end up with about 30 on the list.
Susan G.
What a great idea, Susan. I'll have to keep that it mind. :)

Joanne

Susan Gable
03-13-2005, 07:35 PM
What a great idea, Susan. I'll have to keep that it mind. :)

Joanne

Joanne, I keep a notebook for each book - and in there is a sheet that I use to keep potential titles. Harlequin likes to use the marketing hooks in the titles - baby, dad, mom, cowboy, bride, and so on. So I do try to make my title "match up" with the line I work for.

Again, I think that every little thing a writer can do to make their submission look more appealing, and look more like it "matches" what the publisher does, the better off the writer is. Coming up with a title along the lines of what they use shows that you've been doing your homework. :-)

Susan G.

thewritemuse
03-13-2005, 08:27 PM
Susan, thanks for the suggestion--a list is a great idea! I often struggle with titles, as well. In the beginning, I try to find a single word or two that expresses the overall theme (being primarily a pantster, it assists me in keeping the goal in mind LOL). But I have to say that titles like "Faith" or "Trust" definitely aren't what one can call catchy...http://absolutewrite.com/forums/images/icons/icon12.gif

maestrowork
03-13-2005, 08:35 PM
It comes to me while writing. I usually have a few in mind as I write, then eventually one would stick. When I choose a title (out of all the options I have), I choose it for theme, mood, and relevance. I'd like to use the fewest words to convey the most complex message. ;)

Susan Gable
03-14-2005, 12:36 AM
Here's the title story that makes me most grind my teeth:

I titled my second book: Firefly Wishes. The story is set at a summer camp for transplant children and their families, and they catch fireflies and make wishes on them. I thought it was a very pretty title, evocative, really gave you an image. (Of course, remember, that's just my opinion of it. <G> ) The art department gave me a GORGEOUS cover, with fireflies.

Anyway, since the title didn't have any "hook" words in it, marketing said it was too vague.

They retitled the book The Mommy Plan. <sigh>

I've had readers ask me how in the world those two titles can even be the same book. <G> I've had readers tell me that if they hadn't picked up the book DESPITE THE TITLE, and turned it over to read the back cover blurb, they never would have bought the book. The title turned them off, but fortunately, they still checked out the blurb.

In France, the translated title is A Story of the Heart - or something like that - and I think even that makes more sense. (The little girl in the story had a heart transplant AND it's a romance. <G> )

Anyway, titles. So much fun. <G>

Susan G.

JanaLanier
03-14-2005, 12:57 AM
Oh Susan, I like Firefly Wishes so much better than The Mommy Plan.

What were they thinking???

:Shrug:

lynn avendar
03-14-2005, 06:11 AM
First off, I want to thank you all for your input on this. All your suggestions will give me something to think about as my partner and I work on our story. I do have another question, have you ever started off with a title you liked and then found another story was titled the same? Does it happen often or just a fluke?
How much input does an author truly have over their own work? If, for instance, Susan, your title WAS much better than theirs, so why couldn't you have insisted upon your title? (Just trying to understand all the ins and outs of publishing <g>).

veinglory
03-14-2005, 01:55 PM
I often have a lot of trouble getting the right title. I tend to come up with one at the end, once I have a good feel for the tone of the book. Often it isn't what happened so much as how the characters felt (e.g. Eclipse of the Heart in my avatar).

Susan Gable
03-14-2005, 06:22 PM
First off, I want to thank you all for your input on this. All your suggestions will give me something to think about as my partner and I work on our story. I do have another question, have you ever started off with a title you liked and then found another story was titled the same? Does it happen often or just a fluke?
How much input does an author truly have over their own work? If, for instance, Susan, your title WAS much better than theirs, so why couldn't you have insisted upon your title? (Just trying to understand all the ins and outs of publishing <g>).

Lynn, titles are not copyrightable, so there are cases where books have the same titles. One thing I do to make sure there aren't bunches of books with the title I'm considering is I do a search at Amazon.com. <G> It's a quick way to get some idea of how many other books out there have the same title. If it's only a few, don't sweat it.

Amount of input varies based on publisher and the actual contract you have with that publisher. I know some romance authors at single title houses get cover and back-cover blurb approval rights - meaning the cover and the blurb must pass their approval.

At Harlequin, we don't have that. (There may be SOME HQ authors who have it - but not most.)

I did try to get them to keep my title. But they didn't agree with me, and I don't have control over it. :Shrug: Sooooo, whatareyagonna do, ya know? <G> Besides, I'm not the one with the marketing degree, and I generally assume that the people in the trenches who've been doing this a while know better than I do. Our goal is the same - to sell lots of copies of books. So I defer to their experience and knowledge. (Which doesn't mean they don't make mistakes sometimes. <G> )

There comes a point where you don't want to be a prima donna "arteeest" and you just have to let things go. If you're a real pain in the butt to work with, they're not going to want to keep buying from you.

Compromise is essential in any type of business, and if you want this to be business, then you have to take on a professional attitude. And that means sometimes letting things go. :)

Susan G.

lynn avendar
03-24-2005, 10:13 AM
Over the weekend, my husband decided to watch a movie with Steven Segall called "The Patriot" thinking that the station replaced the movie at the last minute from the one with Mel Gibson and didn't change the blurb about the movie. In fact, Steven's movie was named "The Patriot" as well as Mel Gibson's movie. So this proves that even in Hollywood, movies can share the same title.

veinglory
03-24-2005, 06:35 PM
I had to send in the contract so desperation made me name the current book only 2000 words in. Not my usual approach. I called it 'The Pilgrim heart'.