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Question about titles.
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Boota



Joined: 09 Apr 2004
Posts: 830
Location: Kokomo, Indiana
Question about titles.  Reply with quote  

Chris,

Does a publisher often insist on giving the titles to the books they publish? I've talked to a few authors who said they have never gotten to title their own books, the publisher always does it. Has that happened to you? Is it as common as it seems to be from my limited conversation with other authors?
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Post Tue Nov 01, 2005 7:53 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
chris
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Joined: 02 Mar 2004
Posts: 3833
Location: People Republic of Northern California
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I've had my titles changed. I don't think it's a secret that I originally titled The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove as Munching Wackos. And I still prefer my title. But my editor wanted to stay with the B-movie sound of Island of the Sequined Love Nun. (I was so frustrated I had a contest among readers to come up with something.) You do it because they pay you. If you can't live with it, you don't let them publish the book, and they don't pay you. They've left my other titles alone. Covers are another story.

The bottom line is, if they will get your book in front of people in 5000 book stores, then you'll let them mess with your title. Years ago I had a discussion with a friend, who really felt that self-publishing was the way to go for him because he didn't want people to mess with his work. And he was right, it was right for him. At the time (with one story in print in an obscure magazine) I said, "I don't know, I just don't feel as if I've made the cut if I don't get published by a commercial publisher." That's the route I went. You have to go with your gut and tolerance for rejection. (And self-publishing is way, way cheaper and easier now than it was then -- and people have used it successfully to break into print with a commercial publisher.) I know that's not what you were asking, but I'm desperately trying to avoid doing some copy-editing tonight, so I'm rambling.

Carry on.

Post Wed Nov 02, 2005 2:40 am   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Goudron



Joined: 03 Aug 2004
Posts: 2570
Location: near Cleveland OH
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Incidentally, Lust Lizard was our first Moore book, and Mrs. Goudron looked at it just because of the title. Lucky for us, that one was changed.
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Post Wed Nov 02, 2005 10:32 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Kate R



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 463
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Yeah, Munching Wacko's wouldn't have caught my eye quite as well. ALTHOUGH while reading, I did wonder why they didn't say Pine Cove instead of Melancholy Cove, and I remember that it annoyed me. Regardless of the title, it was a good book.

Post Wed Nov 02, 2005 1:39 pm   View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
Goudron



Joined: 03 Aug 2004
Posts: 2570
Location: near Cleveland OH
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The town wasn't using their anti-depressants, hence the melancholy.
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Post Wed Nov 02, 2005 4:06 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
sgt_steve



Joined: 18 Jan 2005
Posts: 5197
Location: Michissippi
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I gotta admit, I love the cheesy b-movie titles - and Lust Lizard is in my top two.

Last edited by sgt_steve on Sun Nov 13, 2005 8:34 pm; edited 1 time in total

Post Wed Nov 02, 2005 4:48 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Boota



Joined: 09 Apr 2004
Posts: 830
Location: Kokomo, Indiana
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Thanks Chris. I wasn't aware that Lust Lizard was originally Munching Wackos. I have to admit the the title of Lust Lizard is what made me buy it, being my introduction to your work, but I am pretty sure that I would have bought Munching Wackos for the same reason. Titles are very important to the uninitiated. I would definitely pick up a book called Munching Wackos. I'd have to at least read the back cover.

What raised the question for me is that the title of my next book is probably not going to work. As long as I am still self-publishing it will be fine, but no publisher I can imagine would let me name the new book what it's working title has been from day one. The few authors I've talked to at signings and such have said that they have never been allowed to title their work, and I find that disturbing. Naming the piece seems to be an inherent right of the creator. I do understand the publishers side of it, though, and I would make the sacrifice of giving my own titles for the trade-off of getting my books out commercially. I might be silly, but I'm not goofy.
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Post Wed Nov 02, 2005 7:26 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
jaandlu



Joined: 17 Apr 2005
Posts: 4578
Location: Location, location, location.
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So, what's the working title Boota?
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Post Sat Nov 12, 2005 6:14 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Boota



Joined: 09 Apr 2004
Posts: 830
Location: Kokomo, Indiana
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The new book is tentatively titles "Picking On Retards".

Yeah, I know. It sounds mean.

But, it's actually a very positive story. I just like the idea of someone seeing that cover and going, "Hey! He can't do that! Can he?"
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Post Sun Nov 13, 2005 1:18 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
jaandlu



Joined: 17 Apr 2005
Posts: 4578
Location: Location, location, location.
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That is a great title! Awful, but great at the same time. I like the shock value. Very you, Boota. I am impressed as always.
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Post Sun Nov 13, 2005 1:34 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Lauren



Joined: 07 Mar 2004
Posts: 1582
Location: Massachusetts
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From the sales force POV:

Sales reps can, and will, bitch about everything. Titles, subtitles, covers, you name it, we can spend an hour arguing about it at sales conference. Sometimes the editors listen, sometimes they don't. Sometimes the authors will get to veto the changes. Sometimes booksellers will see the original cover art on a galley and the publisher will change it according to their reactions (this happened with Rick Moody's book The Diviners recently. The New York Times wrote up the big to-do over it. I still liked the original cover, but then again, I'm not a graphic designer.)

We spent - I kid you not - a three hour meeting challenging just about every cover in the Little, Brown catalog (not necessarily me, but the sales force as a whole). The one cover we did like? The editors wanted to change. I thought the guy that had to bring all of our comments back to them was going to throw down his pen and quit.

But at the same time, the people trying to change the titles and covers are the ones who talk to the booksellers. They (the booksellers) know what sorts of things are going to catch customers' eyes. Sad to say, people still judge books by their covers.

Try this, tell me which cover is more likely to catch your eye:

The original or the final one?

And would you be more interested in a book called People in General or one called [/i]The Center of Everything[/i]?

And no, I'm not saying we're always right - more people may like the original cover for The Ha Ha. I did. Believe me, I've seen some hideous covers that were our fault, too. But it's never meant as an offense to the author. It's meant as "We'd like to sell your book. Matter of fact, we'd like to sell more of your book."
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Post Mon Nov 14, 2005 2:53 pm   View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website AIM Address ICQ Number
Boota



Joined: 09 Apr 2004
Posts: 830
Location: Kokomo, Indiana
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Lauren, thanks for your input from the sales POV. Myself, I have no problem saying that my book is titled "Picking On Retards" with a straight face, but I understand the concern that could come from someone without my sensibilities having to ty to sell a book titled like that.

I would love to be published through a major commercial publisher, so I understand that in order for that to happen I may have to curb my edge a little. At least as far as titles go. But on the other hand, my band is starting to be successful and there is some record company interest in us. If I can "make it" in music then I can probably call my books whatever I want and force feed it to anyone who objects. Besides, the audience I'm writing for won't be offended by stuff like that. They're all sick bastards like me. Smile
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Post Tue Nov 15, 2005 4:46 pm   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Taco Bob



Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 1201
Location: Palm Falls, Florida
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Boota wrote:
The few authors I've talked to at signings and such have said that they have never been allowed to title their work, and I find that disturbing. Naming the piece seems to be an inherent right of the creator.

I'm there. You're going to all the work and expense to self-publish you damn sure ought to get to pick any title, cover, size, layout, font, etc. you want.


Boota wrote:
I do understand the publishers side of it, though, and I would make the sacrifice of giving my own titles for the trade-off of getting my books out commercially. I might be silly, but I'm not goofy.

Yep. Some fool publisher comes along with enough money and wants to title my next book, Pooh Bear Takes a Nap, I'd give it some hard thought (most likely while on the way to the bank Wink ).

Post Wed Nov 16, 2005 5:57 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Boota



Joined: 09 Apr 2004
Posts: 830
Location: Kokomo, Indiana
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gracie wrote:


Boota, i have to say that I would not even consider picking up a book with that title. Sorry, but that is just me.


That would be right for you to pass on it. You'd be missing out on a positive story, but I understand your position. I really only want to write this one for the people who would pick that title up. On the other hand, the story is so positive that a large percentage of the ones who read it might be upset because it's not really a how-to book on picking on the retarded. The thing I'm wrestling with right now is that this one is a book that could push me into the mainstream if I don't call it by my working title. Decisions, decisions.


TB, I'm with you. If they want to re-name Picking On Retards something like Rainbows and Puppydogs, I'll take the check. Smile I do have a few fallback titles in mind. None of them I really like, but they're not offensive.
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Post Wed Nov 16, 2005 11:01 am   View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Kate R



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 463
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If it could push you into the mainstream by NOT calling it Picking on Retards then don't call it that. Good grief, Boota. You're creative and edgy, but the title alone is going to turn a lot of people off. Give some hint as to what's inside - maybe you could subtitle it? Picking on Retards: A Tale of How Those Bastards Finally Get Their Comeuppance. That's hardly better though. Just an example. I want to read it when you're done, so let me know when you publish it. Smile

Post Wed Nov 16, 2005 12:48 pm   View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
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