Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What's in a name?

Quite a lot, at least when you're referring to the title of a book. It needs to be memorable. It needs to catch a reader's eye. It should summarize the story, or at least provide a hint. It should also be decided on before the book is actually in print.

Okay, that last part is made only slightly in jest. Coming up with book titles is an art form that I used to think I understood. Creatively, I like to know that title before I actually put the first word of the story down on paper. Sometimes, it doesn't happen that way.

Oh, I come up with a title. Sometimes, as with last year's NOBODY'S SECOND BEST, it even appears with a teaser excerpt in one of my books in advance of publication. Then comes the word that there will be a change. That's why none of you could find NOBODY'S SECOND BEST in stores last fall. It became WELCOME TO SERENITY.

And now it's happening again. I've been telling many of you about the next Sweet Magnolias book, scheduled for early 2010. This is the much-anticipated story of Ty and Annie. Many of you may have jotted it down on your calendars. Well, get out your erasers. Not only is it no longer to be called BEST FRIENDS...FOREVER, it will be released in March 2010, not February.

Of course, there is good news. It will be the first of a new series of three Sweet Magnolias books, which will be published in March, April and May 2010. I don't have firm titles for any of them. Come to think of it, I don't have plots for books two and three beyond knowing that they'll be about Annie's friends Sarah and Raylene from A SLICE OF HEAVEN, but I will have stories for them very, very shortly. Probably before they have firm titles.

Just a little heads-up from me to you, so you won't drive yourselves nuts next winter looking for a book that's no longer called what I told you it was going to be called. Personally I think this is a little test the publisher has to see if I'm actually learning to be more flexible. How am I doing?

Sherryl Woods

3 Comments:

Blogger still karibear said...

I don't think the publisher has much to do with it. I think the books take on a mind of their own, and just because a working title pleases you, that doesn't mean the story is going to be happy with it. I once started s series of short stories, each one was going to be titled after a line in a particular song. The first story just grew and grew and now it's somewhere over 100 pages and the more I write, the more story there is to tell. Not only that, two other completely unrelated books I started have let me know in no uncertain terms that THEY want to be part of the set! So that means I'll have to go back and do a lot of rewriting. I completely gave up on picking titles for anything other than poetry - now I just use the name of my main character to differentiate between the computer files. On the other hand, I once had a story completely planned from start to finish, title and all, and there was one sight that the characters were going to see as they flew over in a small plane. I started describing it, and it turned into a self-contained short story and refused to be part of any book whatsoever. I gave up on that one, and let it be.

Flexibility is just another word to describe living. When you lose flexibility, your life loses something, too.

February 3, 2009 3:35 PM  
Blogger MargaretD said...

Unfortunately for me, the title of a book and cover art is what pulls me, the reader, to read a book, especially a new one.

February 4, 2009 10:55 AM  
Blogger Sherryl said...

I love your story, Kari. Isn't it the most wonderful feeling ever when a book just takes over and starts writing itself? And some of those obstinate characters come up with ideas of their own? And Margaret you couldn't be more right about the title and cover art being absolutely critical to drawing readers to one of the many, many books on a store's shelves. That's one reason we all fight so hard to get them exactly right.

February 5, 2009 8:18 AM  

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