Thursday, October 7, 2010

What's in a Title?




Let's talk titles. What do you think makes a good title? One that is descriptive of the setting, the characters, the plot? Or is it a "you know it when you see it" kind of a thing? And the most important question of all-would you buy a book based on the title?

I have a reason for asking these questions-even though I generally stink at picking out a title, I thought I had a pretty good one for the "Jess McConkey" book. As I've mentioned, it was DIE STANDING (from a line in a Shania Twain song that originally started me thinking of the concept for this book). Notice I say "was"? After a conversation with my editor, the decision was made to change it. She didn't feel that it really fit the storyline. And yes, she wanted a title that I would like, so my opinion was solicited. BUT, since as stated, this is not my strong suit, I gave my blessing to whatever Emily, my editor, and the marketing team at Avon thought would be best. Here's what they decided:

LOVE LIES BLEEDING

Why? I wouldn't call this a romance. Well, the title is actually one of the common names for Amaranthus caudatus-a bush that was popular in Victorian gardens-and one does figure into the story line. I came up with the idea of using it for two reasons: 1. I've always thought it was a really cool name for a plant. 2. There's a bit of a spooky legend concerning it and The Villisca Axe Murders (a terrible case that took place here in Iowa in the early 1900's.) That's it-nothing deeper. No symbolism intended.

BUT, after this title was selected, I did a little digging and here's what I found out about the "essence" of Love Lies Bleeding. It is as follows:

"Love-Lies-Bleeding essence has proven to be a powerful balm for those undergoing great physical and psychic pain. When the soul has been stretched to the breaking point, it can enter another dimension of spiritual awareness."

Is my main character undergoing "great physical and psychic pain"? Pretty much-at the beginning of the story, she feels as if her entire life has been stripped away. She's lost and her main goal is to get her old life back.

After reading the above, here's what I'm thinking now-maybe this is the title the book should've had all along and we got nudged in that direction.

Am I reading too much into this? Is my assumption too woo-woo?

Maybe, but I'll tell you right now-if LOVE LIES BLEEDING hits the bestseller lists, I'm planting those suckers all over my yard!!! *g*

That's it for this week!! See you next Thursday!

Best,
Shirley

7 comments:

Casey said...

I like the new title very much. More evocative than Die Standing, I think. Sounds perfect for the book. As for the woo-woo connection . . . hey, you never know!

Sharon S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sharon S. said...

LOL! "this is not my strong suit" that is like the southern version of "bless her heart..." .

The new title does sound perfect. I didn't know there was a plant by that name. I've seen a Bleeding Heart plant. Very pretty. Sounds like your editor knows what she is doing .

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin said...

I have a terrible time coming up with titles, too. Titles and names get me regularly. The rest of writing is so much easier! {Smile}

Since you asked, I don't exactly buy a book based on the title, but I'll pick it up and look it over because of the title. The blurb, exerpts, beginning, and a few later-on peeks or borrowing and liking it actually sell the book. However, in a bookstore, whether online or in real life, something has to get my attention first, and very often that something is the title. {Smile}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

Sharon S. said...

I forgot to answer the question . Titles will catch my attention, especially if they are clever. At Borders they will have a table with tons of books on it. I scan the titles and covers looking for something that will catch my eye. A clever title or awesome cover will make me pick one up and read the back. I also pay attention to my favorite book blog sites and will read the blurbs on all the new books coming out to see if something catches my attention. Did I answer the question? I like clever titles (Eat Prey Love) snort, I love that one. Everyone on this blog has come up with some really great titles:)

Brenda and Jerry Hall said...

Rarely see the title right off, with the front cover torn off and all. Ah, just kidding, wouldn't touch one of those. Being a guy it's the color and graphic that catches my eye first then title. But, that was years ago. Being an avid ebook user color is a bit lost on liquid ink. To me the title should be reflective of the intent the author has for the story. Only the author knows that. Yet, obscure, tricky, deep meaning titles seems to be something over thought, unless your hoping someday your book will end up on a professor's reading list where they can extoll on why you named it what you did long after your dead. Then you get to chuckle from the otherside because you didn't even pick the name. So, in the end it's marketing for the publisher. Some title selections are obviously linked to the author with a golden thread weaving one book to the last. If you want the book to sell well, and don't care let the publisher name it. I've read a couple other authors feelings on titles and they lament over the publishers naming of their books. At some point, I don't care about the title when I'm after an author I like.

Brenda and Jerry Hall said...

Rarely see the title right off, with the front cover torn off and all. Ah, just kidding, wouldn't touch one of those. Being a guy it's the color and graphic that catches my eye first then title. But, that was years ago. Being an avid ebook user color is a bit lost on liquid ink. To me the title should be reflective of the intent the author has for the story. Only the author knows that. Yet, obscure, tricky, deep meaning titles seems to be something over thought, unless your hoping someday your book will end up on a professor's reading list where they can extoll on why you named it what you did long after your dead. Then you get to chuckle from the otherside because you didn't even pick the name. So, in the end it's marketing for the publisher. Some title selections are obviously linked to the author with a golden thread weaving one book to the last. If you want the book to sell well, and don't care let the publisher name it. I've read a couple other authors feelings on titles and they lament over the publishers naming of their books. At some point, I don't care about the title when I'm after an author I like.