Monday, October 17, 2016

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To A Title

Kris Fletcher

One of the (many) steps that takes place in putting a book together is the task of coming up with the title. Harlequin asks authors for title suggestions, but the final decision is not ours. Rumor has it that titles are chosen by a team consisting of editors, folks from the Marketing department, people from departments that authors have never heard of, and possibly a unicorn. There are many factors to consider when choosing a title, and frankly, while I am glad to have input, I'm also delighted to have that decision out of my hands. I mean, it takes me weeks to name a character. If I had to come up with the title myself, the books would never make it to market.
Nevertheless, when I heard the title that had been chosen for my next Comeback Cove, Canada book, I couldn't keep from squealing - because it was one that I had submitted! A story of two people with less-than-perfect pasts now working on their second chances, Two Wrongs Make Right had felt perfect to me when I sent it in. The powers that be agreed and chose it.
I don't mind admitting that I walked around grinning for the next three days. I felt like I had just been informed I'd qualified for MENSA. It was quite a heady sensation when I went to Amazon and saw MY title listed, indeed it was.
And then came The Email.
Not from my editor Piya, but from Senior Editor Victoria, who is a very lovely lady but who rarely contacts me. When I saw the subject line - Title Shenanigans - I knew that the MENSA folks were kicking me to the curb.
As it turned out, people still loved my title. However, when the Art Department was pulling together images for the cover, they came up with a perfect one featuring a man, a woman, and two utterly adorable little girls. There was concern - rightly so - that the sweet girlies could be misconstrued as the "wrongs" of the title, and that simply wouldn't do. We needed a new title and we needed one fast.
Frantic back-and-forth emails ensued. Titles flew, some serious, some silly. (The silly ones were my favorites. I'm still giggling over Victoria's suggestion of MooseJaw Jim.) Then Victoria mentioned a picket fence, and something inside me went, ooooooh.
You see, the characters in this story have many things in common, but one area where they differ very sharply is in what they want for their futures. One of them is actively searching for the proverbial white picket fence and all it entails. The other - not so much.
More suggestions. Picket Fence Dream? It worked for one character, but not the other. Picket Fence Divide? Not Your Average Picket Fence? Picket Fence Surprise? 
Picket Fence Surprise... 
That one called to me. I thought of everything that happens in the book, and yeah. It fit.
I searched Amazon to see if there were other books with that title. Piya searched the Harlequin database. Both came up blank, meaning the title was good to go.
I voted yes. Piya voted yes. Victoria voted yes. And so, next March, PICKET FENCE SURPRISE will make its debut.
The best part? While Victoria came up with the fence, I thought of the surprise. So I might still be able to sit in the corner of those MENSA meetings.

I can't share the fantastic image that led to this frantic reworking, but if you sign up for my newsletter, you'll be the first to see the final cover. And once you see it, you will understand why we HAD to change the title. 

And I would love to know if anyone out there would be interested in a book called MooseJaw Jim. Because I just can't let go of that one. 


dstoutholcomb said...

Glad you could work it out with some input.


kris said...

It was a wild afternoon, for certain!

JanetLee said...

I know the MENSA feeling, I got the title I picked for Book Three of The Cleaning Crew. Not telling because if I do then I will have a MooseJaw Jim afternoon!

Laurie I said...

How interesting. I didn't know so much went into a book title. I'm glad your chosen title won out after all. Congratulations on the upcoming book. And no, not particularly interested in a book called MooseJaw Jim. LOL.

Unknown said...

WHAT? Moosejaw Jim is the best romance title I've ever come up with. Pout.

kris said...

Janet, LOL, I will now be stalking Amazon to see that title.

Laurie, it's astounding to see how much is involved in every step of the process!

Victoria - next book, I promise!

Jo McNally said...

I'm with Victoria - Moosejaw Jim is awesome. LOL! I know what you mean about the title adventures, Kris. That process was an eye-opener for me, but the Harlequin team really knows what they're doing.

kris said...

Isn't it wild, Jo?

Piya said...

Kris, titling-your-own-book achievement still unlocked, as far as I'm concerned. :)

DAna Nussio said...

Great post, Kris! You should write comedy!

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