Sunday, May 06, 2007

Title twofer

Old enough now to change your name.
--"Cowgirl in the Sand" by Neil Young and Crazy Horse

Two weeks. Two publishers. Two books. Two title changes, both for the (vastly) better. And I can't claim credit for either.

OUT: Wings of Crow

IN: The Reawakened

Book 3 in the Aspect of Crow series was originally titled Wings of Crow. A few weeks ago, the senior editor at Luna, after reading and pondering the WOC synopsis, thought of the new title. She thought the book sounded big (it is, weepingly big--I expect a 130K-word first-draft) and deserved a "bigger" title.

The title also fits the final book in the trilogy better than Wings of Crow did. I can't explain much more without giving away stuff you won't read for 18 months, but for a quick refresher on the catalytic event known as the Reawakening, check out the Eyes of Crow page on my publisher's site (scroll down to "More About This Book") and the short story "The Wild's Call."

So I'm very excited about the new title. It's going to tie the series together and wrap it up in a big, big way.

OUT: Bad Company

IN: Wicked Game

Heh. The irony with this one is that the title gave me the idea for the entire series. I chronicled this lightning-strike a couple of years ago. The song I refer to in that post is, of course, "Bad Company," by the band Bad Company. Off the album...well, you know.

But the marketing people thought it wasn't strong or evocative enough. My husband agreed. I've lived with it for so long, I couldn't be objective.

I wanted each book title to be a rock/pop song that began with "Bad" because the central conflict of the main character is whether or not she should be a good or bad person. While that might have acquired resonance (i.e., be meaningful to people after they've read the book), it has no automatic resonance. People apparently don't hear "Bad Company" and go, "Oooh, I need to read that."

So I had to think of a stronger title that served that dual purpose (1. song title, and 2. character conflict). My brilliant mother-in-law (take a bow, Cecilia) suggested Wicked Game. I loved it, my publisher loved it. It pulls in the con artist angle and reflects the dark but fun nature of the book.

As for the Chris Isaak song...well, "Wicked Game" and I have a tormented history. It's accompanied some of the happiest and most miserable moments of my love life. I still think of it as four minutes, forty-six seconds of heartbreak. But what better way to purge those demons than to stick it on the cover of my glorious new novel? Ha!

Moral of the story for writers: Don't get too attached to your titles. Your publisher will probably change them, anyway, and almost always for the better. The good news is, editors don't care if you have a lame title, because they know it won't stay. Bottom line: don't sweat it.

A-Z Update: "Fishnets and Cigarettes" by the New York Dolls

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Thanks to all the little people....oh, excuse me.


Posted by: Anonymous Anonymous at 5/07/2007 7:45 AM

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