Monday, May 08, 2006


A friend of mine is the author of thirteen books in three genres with four different publishers. So far she’s 0 for 13 when it comes to keeping the original titles of her books. Looks like I’m on my way to catching up with her.

I recently sold my second book, a romantic suspense with a mom-lit voice to it. Think Stephanie Plum -- married, settled down with a house in the burbs and 2.3 rugrats, but still getting involved with taking down the bad guys. Except in my case, my heroine is a widow with teenagers, and she’s the one accused of doing all that bad guy stuff. So she’s got to channel her inner Sidney Bristow to save herself and clear her name. The hero, like all good heroes, lends a hand.

I came up with what I thought was a great title for this book. Unfortunately, someone else came up with a very similar title, and her book was released recently. So I have a sale, I have a release date (June 2007), but I don’t have a title.

Some people are great brainstorming titles. I’m not one of them. When I sold my first book, my publisher wanted the title I had chosen changed to something that sounded more ‘chick lit.’ I may not be good at plucking titles from the cosmos, but every once in awhile I get a great idea. The idea I had for that book was to run a contest. I posted my dilemma on some of my writing loops and on my website. Whoever came up with the title my editor chose would get credit on the acknowledgment page of my book and an autographed copy when the book was released. That’s how TALK GERTIE TO ME came about. And it’s such a great title because it has double meaning. Gertie is the childhood imaginary friend my heroine resurrects to help her cope with her menopausal mom as well as the persona she invents for her talk radio gig. I’m forever in the debt of the person who thought up that positively perfect title.

So I decided that holding a “Name That Book” contest worked well for me the first time, why not give it another shot? And that’s exactly what I’m doing. But so far the suggestions that are pouring in are more appropriate for Harlequin/Silhouette short contemporary novels. Some would make great short contemporary titles, as a matter of fact. But they’re just not cutting it for my mom-lit romantic suspense. I need help! I’ve got a blurb and chapter excerpt posted on my website ( and the contest info on the CONTEST page. If you’re good at coming up with titles, have at it! Please!


JoAnn Ross said...

Good luck finding a title! That can be one of the most difficult and frustrating parts of writing a book.

Over the years I've gotten so I cannot even begin to write a book if I don't have a title I at least believe is going to be the final one. So far, I've gotten to keep all twenty-two single title titles I wrote for three different publishers, and both Brava novella titles, but I probably only managed to keep between 40-50% for my seventy-some categories.

Oh, btw, I'd hugely suggest not going with a single word. With all the words in the dictionary, you'd think those would be easy. But I've found they're the most difficult to sustain.

Allison Brennan said...

I sympathize with you Lois! One of my three titles is my own in my first trilogy, but it was the title (THE HUNT) that the other two titles were worked around.

With my next one, we brainstormed titles as I was writing the book, which I called UNTITLED BOOK ONE until I read about page 196 when my editor and I agreed on the new series name. What was fun with that is I got to brainstorm with a bunch of people and we came up with the idea together.

Good luck!

JoAnn Ross said...

Allison -- Do we know the new series name yet? I can't recall hearing it.

Gail Dayton said...

I'm terrible at titles too, Lois! Though, right now, I'm three for five at keeping my titles. I think maybe I'm better at the single-title/fantasy titles than I am at the series/category romance titles. You might look through your story and see if there's a phrase that turns up in there that might work...if you've gotten that far...

Good luck!

Patti O'Shea said...

I'm terrible at titles too, Lois. I've been able to keep 1 from my first 4 books. Although, to be fair, I was calling Power of Two "Banzai Book Four" and Crimson Veil "Crimson City Book Three." Somehow I figured the publisher wasn't going to use those. ;-)


Nancy Morse said...

I don't have any trouble coming up with titles. The problem is keeping them. I was able to keep only 4 of my titles. One I had to fight for. My editor told me that SACRED PLACES sounded too much like an inspirational, but I argued that the title was essential to the story, as it referred to the Black Hills of SD, sacred to the Sioux. And besides, who would pick up an SIM thinking it was an inspirational? I got to keep that title, but others I had to give up. Some battles are worth fighting, some just aren't.