Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What's in a Name?

The hard labor is over. It was touch and go for a while, but at last my book has been born. A nice, healthy 450-page tome with one man, one woman, and a happy ending.

Now if I could only come up with a name for my new baby. Something better than "Contractual Obligation #4."

You would think that someone who could write an 85,000-word novel could come up with two or three more words to slap onto the cover, but it's not as easy as it sounds.

I've had seven books published, and not one of them bears a name I chose. Title selection is obviously not my strong point. And believe me, I'm not one of those people who would name a baby Apple or Moon Unit.

I suppose part of the problem is it's hard to be objective about one's own writing. I'm not sure if my books are darkly dramatic or lightheartedly funny. To me, they're both. I just write what I like. But I'm sure my publisher has some clear ideas about how they want to market my books.

My last three books were dubbed "Lady Danger," "Captive Heart," and "Knight's Prize." I like those titles. Okay, so "Knight's Prize" had neither a knight nor a prize, but no one seemed to mind, and it sounds so deliciously medieval.

The perfect title would encapsulate romance and adventure and drama and humor, wrapping it all in a swirling cloak of chivalry. Now, try doing that in under 25 words. Oh, and make sure it hasn't been used by another author in the last decade.

Of course, as soon as I start brainstorming with my family, everyone gets silly. Since my hero is a lawman who presides over the gallows, and my heroine is a scam artist, I come up with "Lord of Penance." My husband hears "Lord of the Pants," which starts up a rousing rendition of "Riverdance." "Master of Shackles" is too kinky-sounding, so my son suggests "The Fluffy, Pretty, Nice Lady Story." When my daughter offers up "The Neck-Snapper's Bride," I inform them I no longer need their help.

For a minute, I even resort to the Romance Novel Title Generator online. Don't bother, unless you want your next book to be called, "The Well-Becoiffed Werewolf" or "The Bedevilled Thighs."

I like "Sleight of Heart." So does my editor. It's romantic and suggests the heroine's profession. It doesn't sound strictly medieval, but I'm not sure how important that is, since the cover art will reflect the setting. Unfortunately, the powers-that-be aren't crazy about it. I'm at wit's end. Hmmm..."At Wit's End."

Sigh. "Contractual Obligation #4" is looking better and better all the time...

Sarah McKerrigan...
Stories to keep you up all night!
LADY DANGER - Riding to the rescue April 2006
CAPTIVE HEART - Coming for you October 2006
KNIGHT'S PRIZE - Stealing your heart April 2007


Susan Crandall said...

My sympathies. I too am a failure in the title department -- I always get out-gunned by the powers. I tell myself they probably know more about marketing than I.

I like Sleight of Heart. And you're right, the cover says it all -- it's fabulous, by the way! Can't wait to read it.


catslady said...

The cover is more important than the title. I would never buy a book by title only but I would pick it up if the cover strikes me and then I read the blurb. It's a gorgeous cover.

Sarah McKerrigan said...

Ha ha! That figures! That's not my cover. That's public domain art. I trust my actual cover will be nice, though, if they give me my favorite artist.

Kate Diamond said...

I would rush out to buy many copies of "The Bedevilled Thighs." What a great stocking stuffer title!

Diana Holquist said...

Oooh...Bedevilled thighs. Like that. Stuffed stockings even before you stuff the ones on the fireplace....

I usually want to call my books things like, "It's #@**! Done!" But my editor seems to know best.


Georgie Lee said...

Sometimes picking a title is like picking a character name. You have to rattle through a few before one finally sounds right.

Shari Anton said...

Out of 13 books, 7 titles are mine. Maybe I've learned to think like 'marketing', and isn't that a frightening thought!