Thursday, March 12, 2009

What's in a Name?

A question I get asked a lot is if I pick out the titles for Ophelia and Abby. I don't know how it works for other authors, but in my case the answer is, ah...no. The only one I've ever picked out was the original title for WITCH WAY TO MURDER. When I wrote it, I called it MOURNING MOON. It was immediately changed once the contract was signed! In fact, I'd been warned by a veteran author that the title is usually the first thing to go and she was right.

But that's okay-I've found that the old adage "don't pick a book by its cover," really isn't true. The title and the cover play a huge role in the marketing of a book. And there are brains far cleverer than mine at my publisher's who put a lot of thought into what's going to attract a reader as they're browsing through the stacks and stacks of books at the local bookstore, or checking them out online. Every author wants theirs to say "read me...read me", so I leave it up to them to come up with a list of suggestions.

I do have some input-I'm asked my opinion of the list which opens a dialogue between me and my editor, and usually there's one title that we both like more than the others. In fact, such was the case this week...I no longer have to refer to the next book in the series as "Book 7." Nope, it's got a name...THE SEVENTH WITCH! (Personally, since this is the seventh book in the series, I think that title is very appropriate!!)

Anyway, here's my question-have YOU ever bought a book because of its title or cover? I have...one of the first books I ever bought about the craft of writing and it's by Lawrence Block. The title? TELLING LIES FOR FUN AND PROFIT. To me, that just said it all! ;)

Catch you next week,
Shirley

9 comments:

Blodeuedd said...

I do confess, there are covers that re so lovely that they made me buy the book, and sure a title helps a lot.

For an instance I didn't read the Twilight books (at first, not that they were masterpieces anyway) cos the titles in Swedish really, really sucked. So bad that they made me think why even bother. The same way a really bad cover can make me not give it a chance

moonduster said...

I usually go by the blurb on the back.

It's good to know that the people who are educated in marketing come up with the titles, because giving my books titles is not easy for me!

Shirley Damsgaard said...

I hear you, Moonduster!! I really suck at thinking up titles!! They are either too obscure to make sense, or too obvious!! I can't find that middle ground. You read the blurb? Okay I have a confession to make. Please don't anyone hurl a tomato at me or groan 'cause this is a shameful, shameful thing to admit!! I read the last page! You see I hate spending time reading a book and then have the ending not to my liking...that's not to say it's a "bad" ending, just one that isn't to my own personal taste. What can I say?? It's a quirk that I've had since I was twelve, so it's too late to change it now! ;)

And Blodeudd...I never thought about English titles converted to a different language. Are they even close to meaning the same thing? Or do they switch the concept completely?

Angie Fox said...

I'll pick up a book for the title or cover, definitely. I remember one mystery I bought based solely on the title: A Tisket A Tasket A Fancy Stolen Casket. I figured if the author could make me laugh based on the title, the book should hold up too.

My series is a rarity in that I've kept both my titles: The Accidental Demon Slayer and The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers. I might not get as lucky with the third book. Right now, I'm calling it A Tale of Two Demon Slayers, but my editor mentioned in passing that she's not sure that's hip enough. So, it could change. Like Shirley said, most titles do!

Jess Granger said...

LOL, Angie knows this all too well, but my working title for the longest time was "Futuristic #1"

Does that grab you or what?

I'm terrible with titles, and more than happy to let the marketing people have at 'em.

Jess

Ann Aguirre said...

A cool cover makes me pick a book up. A snappy blurb makes me read the first few pages. Quality writing convinces me to buy.

I do like a catchy title, but I don't buy on the strength of that alone.

morseren said...

Yes I did buy a book on just the title alone. "Will the Vampire People Please Leave the Lobby? (True Adventures in Cult Fandom") by Allyson Beatrice

How could you not like a book with a title like "Would the Vampire People Please Leave the Lobby", it's just too funny.

Rebecca W.

Ann Aguirre said...

Speaking of titles, I picked them for the final two books in the Jax series.

book 5 = Dreadnaught
book 6 = Endgame

I'm really chuffed.

zabet17 said...

I've often chosen books by title and cover. For example, anything with the word Witch or Spell in it, generally catches my eye. While working at a bookstore I loved shelving because I could check out tons of books and I always got grabbed by certain covers.

On a similar note, I am getting really tired of all the covers which show a tattooed woman from the back. It seems like every second modern fantasy book that is released looks the same!