Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Title Game

       I was recently interviewed by our regional newspaper in preparation for a library event that was featuring 3 romance authors talking about our books, writing and all things romance and publishing. The journalist, who also covers very hard-hitting stories like political corruption, seemed to be having a fun time during the interview which made me very nervous about the outcome. He did have a great sense of humor as the article showed, but he was very surprised about one thing in romance novel publishing -- that authors have little or no control over coverart and TITLES. 

      And I know that readers are sometimes surprised by that, too. Most long-time readers are aware of that, but it's hard for most people to imagine that the person who creates the work has little or nothing to do with what it's called or how it's presented to the public. 

     It was a hard fact of writing-and-publishing life that I had to learn. . . and learn quickly! 
     I started out keeping my first title - A Love Through Time - but not my second one. Kept the third and fourth and then it went downhill from there! My 50% keeper rate continues to drop steadily.... DISHONORED-FORBIDDEN - BETRAYED became The Dumont Bride, The Norman's Bride and The Countess Bride. (Bride titled books sell really really well among Harlequins - LOL!)  Taming The Beast became Taming The Highlander, Tempting the Viking became Surrender to the Highlander and The Peacemaker's Bride (LOL) became Possessed by the Highlander. (Highlanders sell really, really, really well everywhere!) 

  So now, I simply call my books by a working title -- like MacLeries - Book 3 or Warriors of Destiny - book 1. And yes, it did backfire on me once -- I was calling my work-in-progress by the honorary title of the heroine who was the eldest daughter of the MacDougal clan -- she was and is referred to as 'The Maid of Lorne'. My editors liked that one and it stuck when I was expecting to have to change it...actually planning to! 

  And it hasn't only been with my Harlequin titles -- my Kensington STORM series all were changed...and the last one changed several times...ending with Mistress of the Storm...and then they had to change to cover to match the title...! LOL! 

   Really, the bottomline about titles (and covers) is that their purpose is to attract a potential reader's attention and drag them over to browse the book - whether in a store or online. Sometimes, they match the story perfectly and other times, well, not so much. So the next time you think a title or cover doesn't match or doesn't work, remember, the author may have been the only one not involved in it! 

    BTW - There is an exception -- now that many authors are self-publishing, they ARE in charge -- for good or bad! Everything is under their control...including titles and covers. I recently republished my first time travel romances with new covers -- so the first book went from this:                                                      
 To this:

  What do you think? 

   Did you know that authors don't always choose their titles or covers? Do you like the newer, longer titles that seem to be out there now, or do you prefer shorter ones? Any titles that are your favorites? 

Terri is now working on the first book in her WARRIORS OF DESTINY series for NAL and is thrilled that her May book (print release April 17th) YIELD TO THE HIGHLANDER will be a FEATURED AUTHOR edition at many retailers!  Stop by her website or watch her FB profile or page for lots more info! 

No comments: