Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Fiction Day - Titles and Covers

I'm gaining new respect for what goes into a book's creation with a traditional press. This week it's been all about the cover and the title. The publisher has allowed me input, but the ratio is two editors to one author, so sometimes I lose. But the thought process is still cool.

I won't tell you my original title because I don't want it to stick in your head. It was two-words and to the point. I adore to-the-point. It makes my day. And the title fit in a theme with the other two books nipping at this one's heels. So now we have to change all of them. That's okay. I'm good with that. They were very accommodating with my preferences in the story. I'm still scared to say the title quite yet, though. They haven't given me the nod.

But we emailed back and forth in a three-way conversation for three days. Probably 20 emails. We looked at the crimes in the book, the location, the characters, the lifestyle of the region. Finally we narrowed it down to locale being the carrying theme. Then we couldn't agree on which location in the book. I lost on that one, but the final choice was doable.

The fun part was filling out a Q&A for whoever creates the cover. I described the protagonist. I rated the story on light/dark, mood, pace, emotion. I had to name five items from the book that could represent the story. That was friggin' hard to do and not look like a cliche. I even was asked if my book were a color, which one would it be. (I chose Rust.) Then I had to find covers and images from to give them ideas on how I invision the story.

If I ever self-publish a book, I've learned I'll never use a template. Not after seeing the thought that's going into this cover.

If you choose to self-pub, however, make yourself slow down and brainstorm with someone who respects you and your story. Do not stand alone in all these decisions of title, cover, font, and so on. Get feedback. Let someone validate your selections, or dash your choices. You need that.

My writing group isn't happy that the book's name has changed. After all, they've heard it by another name for years. But I'm not the one investing the money into the book. I'm not the one with a neck on the chopping block, with a serious need for this book to make a return on investment. I think we forget that when we get sassy about publishers. They spend thousands of dollars and we sit back and cry like divas, in many cases, because the title and cover aren't what we envisioned. Or they made us change the protagonist's choice of boyfriend or alter who kills the bad guy. I, for one, am willing to listen. They've made way more money at this than I have, and the least I can do is give their expertise a chance to pitch itself to me.

Now I'm anxious for them to start book two. It's beginning to get fun and wild, people. Just realized this post really doesn't have a lesson and maybe not a fluid theme, but hey, thought you guys would appreciate the update. Hope it made sense.


Linda O'Connell said...

Your enthusiasm is palpable. So happy you are nearing the finish line and your book will be hitting the shelves. Can't wait. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Hope Clark said...

Thanks, Linda. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family as well.

Jennifer Fitz said...

I had always imagined your book as a dark mustard color.

(Seriously. Every time you blog about it, for some reason I have this vague image in my head of a hardback library book with a dark mustard cover.)

I thought it was funny that your color and my color could totally be in the same upholstery fabric pattern -- you must describe it well when you post here.

Unknown said...

Thank you for this post. I just self-published my first book ("Emily's House") and it was interesting to hear your process. I learned a lot about publishing from self-pubbing and there are so many decisions! The whole process gave me new appreciation for what publishers do and how many decisions have to be made with an eye toward marketing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the process.

Anthony J. Langford said...

Great to hear the insider's version. Best of luck with the process.

ferida said...

Oh, those titles. One of my friends fought hard for her original title only to be told that she change it or the book wouldn't be published. No contest. Better a book published than a title victory. The story is the same and the finished product a joy.