Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Book By Any Other Name.....

Will it be as sweet?

Fortunately, I chose the name of my first book, THE GREAT PRETENDER. It's the title I originally self-published with. When Penguin bought the book they liked and kept that title....thank God.

Alas, this was not to be the case with book #2.

I got to thinking about the title tug-a-war after reading Tess Gerritsen's entertaining yarn about how her most recent work got its name. Oddly enough, Barnes & Noble wound up choosing her title. Go figure.

On that note, here's a peek at the title maze of my second gem:

Doomed Title #1) A BLOSSOM FELL - this one lasted about a minute and a half because, although it had a special place in my heart being a Nat King Cole song and all, everyone agreed it sounded too "romancy".

This one was nixed very early on. Pre-1st draft. :-(

Doomed Title #2) RAINDROPS ON ROSES - I loved this one, too - started the book with it, but for obvious reasons, it didn't live any longer than its predecessor.

It, too, was nixed. Sniff.

Doomed Title #3) A LIFETIME OF LIES - Now this one I really loved! So did my agent. So did my editor. This doomed title survived the longest. I wrote a good chunk of the story under this one and it really changed the tone and the intended execution of the plot.

So there I am, plotting away when--wham!---publishing suits have their meeting, someone (art person I think) decides it doesn't have the same punch as THE GREAT PRETENDER and, just like that, we're back to square one. It was also nixed.

Alas, book #2, now nearly completed, was nameless once again. Sniff.

Doomed Title #4) A GRACEFUL DECEIT - Now this one was my favorite, because it has tremendous plot significance and would tie into the overall reading experience. I loved it. My agent loved it. Editor, etc. felt it lacked "oomph".

My agent did a survey of her own on it and she reported that, hands down, folks greatly preferred the winning title......

What is the winning title?

**THE GREAT BETRAYAL** Ding, ding, ding! This one won the gold. I picked it, liked it, but felt readers would think it a sequel to THE GREAT PRETENDER.

They did some kind of in-house "survey" (not sure how credible those can really be) and it was decided that 1) TGB is simply building on my first title, 2) it helped the branding effort, and 3) no one would think it was a sequel. Go figure.

So - which one do you prefer? Anybody agree that folks just may assume book #2 is a sequel to book #1?

Warning to my fellow authors - don't get any ideas about stealing any of my "bit the dust" titles - I have every intention of using them all! Stay tuned. ;-)


  1. Hi Millenia,

    Hmm....I really like the title. I think it does give the impresson of a related title to the first, a sequel, but once you read the blurb and see it's not, I doubt it will hurt anything or have any adverse effects.

    I liked the others, but The Great Betrayal sounds perfect! Sounds like a good movie title too.

  2. The Great Betrayal does link your books, but only to the extent that it looks like it is from the same author.

    I think you should keep "A Lifetime of Lies" for another book... or not. ;-)

    I think that "The Great Betrayal" is the best... Glad I don't have to name the books because I think that a name is more important than the cover.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Agree it won't hurt anything, some people might think at first glance that it could be a sequel but it won't hurt anything. It links the author more in my mind than it does the books...know what I mean? I like A Lifetime of Lies. Sounds solid and very intriguing.

  5. Hi There Millenia! I just read your book The Great Pretender and loved it!! I happened upon your blog by pure accident! How great to sort of "meet" the author and get a sense of your personality. What a story you wrote, I am still reeling from that ending. Anywho, I'm on your newsletter, so at first I did the The Great Betrayal was going to be a sequel. Sequel or not, I can't wait to read it!! Keep them coming, you had me from HELLO! Page 1!

    All My Best, Brighton

  6. Hey, Millenia! Loved reading the title saga. :) I suck at titles, so not particularly partial to any of mine. I figure they'll get changed when I sell. :)

    I DO like The Great Betrayal, but I would probably think initially that it's a sequel. OTOH, it's great author branding. Many authors have had success with finding that brand and sticking with it until the name is bigger than the brand. Then you do what you want. :)

    I enjoyed Tess's post about the titles too. I was surprised that anyone thought the general reader would miss that Mephisto reference. Apparently, B&N didn't think so, which is cool because that title is cool. :)

    Do you have publication info for your next book? You may have said and I may have missed it, so just point me in the right direction. :)

  7. Hi Jesse - Perhaps you guys (and the publisher) are right. It links more to the author.

    Hi Brighton - I'm so glad you enjoyed TGP! Thanks!

    Hi Lynn - the last I heard, TGB was slated for release in November, but that can change. Stay tuned!

  8. I read Tess Gerritsen's account of how The Mephisto Club was her original title but B and N had to be the one to say they liked it before her damn publisher would accept it. Don't get me started on that trip. These damn idiots in the publishing houses can be so stubborn!

    I like The Great Betrayal. Not sure if it necessarily hints at a sequel, but oddly enough, I agree with the "suits", it builds on your first title more than anything else.

  9. Thanks for chiming in, BSA. I think I'm almost convinced I won't be fielding "Is it a sequel?" questions more often than not, LOL.


Comments are encouraged and welcomed. (Moderated for spam)