Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, August 19, 2006

By Any Other Name

By Sariah S. Wilson

Did you ever have that feeling in Sacrament Meeting where you’re giving a talk immediately following this extremely moving musical number and/or a powerful, spiritual speaker? That’s what it feels like to post the day after Kerry. It’s where you know anything you say is going to come across as trite and meaningless in comparison, and there doesn’t even seem a point in trying. Thus, I will start out by saying that I have nothing of spiritual import to post about.

I’d like to talk about titles. Mainly because my second novel (as far as I know) still doesn’t have one.

I’m very glad that I belong to the RWA (Romance Writers of America) because their emphasis is on professionalism and getting you published, and to help you in any way they can. It’s a great organization, especially for those not-yet-published (particularly since many other national writing organizations won’t let you join until you are published).

My local chapter prepared me for the things you would no longer have control over once you were published. Like your title and cover. (You have zero say when you’re starting out. However, if you’re Nora Roberts and decide to put out a series of your random thoughts on napkins with an orange and chartreuse cover called “Things I Think” there isn’t a publisher in this world who would tell you no. They would all bow and scrape and tell you, “Whatever you want.” Unfortunately, very few people ever attain that sort of status in the publishing industry.)

People (and by people I mean my family) were surprised that I had no say in the cover or the title. I wasn’t - I had been told over and over again by my fellow writers that this most likely would happen. When my cover delay occurred, my family couldn’t figure out why I just didn’t have my brother Stephen make the cover so it could come out in July. I kept trying to explain the marketing department and the importance of book design and catching the consumer’s eye, but no one listened.

I did mourn a little over the loss of my first title. I have discovered that I have no natural talent for coming up with titles. Had it been up to me, “Gone With the Wind” probably would have been “Scarlett and Rhett” or “Why Ashley Sucks” or something like that.

But with my first book, I had what I thought was an immensely clever title. I had originally called it “All the King-Men.” It had a play on words, an immediate Book of Mormon connection, and I thought would hint at the political aspects in the novel.

“King-Men” became “Secrets in Zarahemla.” Which is a title that also makes the Book of Mormon connection and plays up the shadows and secrets that are going on in the novel. It also sounds more like a romance, which the book inherently is.

My second novel I just called “Redemption.” Despite thinking about possible titles for months, I still can’t think of anything good (although I am liking Rob’s suggestion of “One Bride for One Brother.” But if I used it I’d probably have to pay him royalties or something). Here’s to hoping my publisher comes up with something brilliant which I can then take credit for. ;)

The next book I’m working on is (surprise!) another Book of Mormon romance. I have a killer title for that one that made my editor laugh (it makes me laugh too which is why I chose it).

But I’m not telling you what it is until I sell it.


At 8/20/2006 4:06 PM, Anonymous Jennie said...

Sariah, I submitted one manuscript with the working title "Fourteen". It had no connection to the story, it was just my fourteenth book. Like you I learned a long time ago not to set my heart on a particular title. My publisher has used two of my titles, three actually if you count the one they took off of my manuscript and put on someone else's book! Two working titles have been used and Code Orange was upgraded to Code Red. I really don't mind; thinking up titles is hard work so I'm perfectly happy letting them do the research and worrying. In this game, it really doesn't matter too much what the title is, the important thing is to have your readers and editor remember yours. lol

At 8/20/2006 6:37 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

Oh, I'm right there with you, Jennie. As I mentioned, I'm terrible at it. I'm also very happy letting my publisher, who knows what they're doing, come up with brilliant, marketable titles. They know what works, and I'm always happy to let the experts do their jobs.

At 8/20/2006 7:10 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Titles are tough. As I work on my current project, I'm keeping a running list of title ideas. It doesn't matter how bad the ideas are--maybe if I write them down, they'll spark a good idea. I like it when I can finally think of a working title for a project--it has a name at last! I've thought of some titles that are okay, but nothing that's really grabbed me. I'm hoping for an "ah ha" moment like I had with my first book (Covenant kept the original title). In that case, the title came along with the idea of what the novel's focus would be. Titles can sometimes help draw a project into focus.

At 8/20/2006 10:15 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8/20/2006 10:16 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...

Yeah, Jennie, I had the same experience with losing titles. I proposed three novels to Covenant, Safe Harbor, Sisters in Zion, and House on the Hillside.

Within twelve months they published, Safe Harbor, Sisters in Zion, and House on the Hill. I'm great with titles, just not my own.


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