He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began. ~Leo Tolstoy

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Why Picking a Good Name for Your Book is, like, Important or some junk.

When I first started on this self-publishing road, my hubs said to me, "You are going to make mistakes and learn things that will only serve to help you for next time. It's unavoidable."

Of course, making mistakes was not on my list of Things To Do no matter how helpful and informative they might prove to be in the future. 100% error-free perfection is the goal, isn't it? That's why the draft of my novel was perfect after one typo-sweep and I'm totally NOT still finding missing words or clunky bits 183,597,305 read-throughs later. Right? Right.

But I digress.

Naming the book came late into the process. Usually does. I take in all the themes and pithy bits of dialogue and scour them for a title. This romance is about a shy book-nerd and a reclusive writer. I wanted to encapsulate the writerly/bookish aspects of the story and tie it all together neatly at the end. Hence, The Story of Us.  The perfection of it was dizzying, truly. At least to me. Okay, only to me.

The hubs wasn't blown over. He thought it kind of...blah. I didn't care. It fit perfectly. And because I am nothing if not a paragon of perfection, and not at all sloppy or rushed, I quickly Googled "story of us" to see if my chosen title was already taken. What foresight! What incredible attention to detail! I was pleased to see that the Story of Us belonged to an old (and forgotten) Bruce Willis movie and a Taylor Swift song from 2010. I was in the clear! I proceeded with cover design plans and PAID FOR THEM with that title.

Fast forward a week later and my computer-savvy brother informs me that there is already a recent book (August-of-this-year-recent) with that same title. Whaaaa? How could this be? I Googled for god's sake, and everyone knows Google is the Shining Oracle of Truth. Had it forsaken me? Where, praytell, did my brother find this other charlatan using my title?

On Amazon, as a matter of fact. Oh, right. Amazon. THE PLACE WHERE I'M PUBLISHING MY BOOK.

Without delay, I examined Amazon in greater depth and lo and behold... There were not just ONE The Story of Us's. There were four of them. Being the optimist that I am, I rationalized that some were old. Ancient even. Like, from 2013. Sure, one came out a month ago, and another in March of this same year, but it's cool, right? More the merrier.

And because I am nothing if not detail-oriented, I meandered on over to Goodreads and typed in the title. NINE other books. Nine. And all of them, but for one, romances.

At this point, the writing was on the wall, but I took my dilemma to my Dilemma Committee, aka Facebook, hoping one of my beloved friends (most of whom are writers themselves) would say, "So what? There could be a million books with the same title and yours will just rise to the top and not get lost at all. It's brilliant. Trust me."

Instead, one for one, they told me to change it. And all were suddenly afflicted with a viral strain of honesty that prompted many to tell me the title Story of Us wasn't exactly...good. (see hub's initial reaction) Not that it was bad, but that it was just eh, and eh is almost as bad as bad.

I resisted. It was sort of like I'd given birth to this thing, my baby, and I just knew in my heart of hearts that it should be named Joe. Not the most exciting, but it FIT. Then I found out 20 other babies on my ward had the same name and the nurses were all confused about who was who, and people were hearing my choice of name and saying, "Oh. Joe. That's...nice."

I was not pleased. Already mildly stressed/nervous about the whole process in the first place, the last thing I wanted was to be upheaved with a title change. Especially after the first cover was already in the bag. (and paid for)

I agonized for about 20 hours and after a back-and-forth with a friend, I landed on a new title that I didn't automatically hate after 15 seconds. It matched my themes, and while there wasn't any pithy dialogue with it, it was writer/book related and romancy too. Love Beyond Words.  I dug it. I Googled it. I Amazoned it. I Goodreadsed it. One truly ancient title, and not a romance. I could live with that.

One day and $75 later, the cover was redone, crisis averted.

I still like the Story of Us. I still wish that was the book's title in much the same way a new parent naming their kid Joe likes it: because it fits, not because it has the biggest wow-factor. But this is business, after all. If I'm not out to wow, what's the point? I don't know if the new one will wow, but at least its readers will be able to find it and tell me without having to play Where's Waldo first.

And, dammit, the hub's was right. With the second book, the chosen title will get a thorough research before any money goes to a cover.

Because I'm nothing if not the epitome of caution and not at all careless or impatient. Nope. Not me.

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