Tuesday, May 11, 2010

FOR WRITERS: Never fall in love with your title.

Why? Because it’s part of your marketing package, and is subject to change by your publisher.

The thing is, while you’re madly at work on your book, there’s a marketing team madly at work on positioning it in the marketplace. That entails not only the cover and tagline (a post will follow on this as well) but the title and back cover blurb and author quotes. They want new readers to pick up your book. They want booksellers to place orders for it.

Think of the outside package of your book as kind of like a present. If you get one that’s covered in old newspaper, it might have the gift of your dreams inside, but you probably wouldn’t open it first if another present sat right beside it that was covered in shiny foil paper with a huge glittery bow atop.

You want readers to unwrap your book first.

My working title for book 2 in THE ELVEN LORDS series was THE STORM LORD’S DAUGHTER, and my editor asked me to give them several more title options. It startled me, because it made me realize that they were already working on the marketing, and I haven’t even finished the book (you’d think I’d be used to this by now).

The good thing is, I love brainstorming titles, so I happily set to work coming up with more options. I tried to factor in the historical, fantasy, and romance angle, which is always a challenge. Here are the titles I presented to my editor:

Sorcery & Seduction
Lady of Sea and Sky
The Storm Lady's Seduction*
Lady of the Storm* (No romance angle, but I love the similarity to Lady of the Lake.)
Seducing the Lady of the Storm
Loving the Lady of the Storm
Seducing the Storm
The Storm Lady's Lover*

I put stars by the ones that I preferred, because I’m fortunate to have a publisher that values my input. The title they eventually chose was: THE LADY OF THE STORM (adding ‘the’ to the final title). I have to say that I love it much better than my working title, and I’m grateful to have such a motivated marketing team.

So try to keep in mind that the title of your manuscript is a working title, because when your publisher works on wrapping your book, they may want a different colored bow.


  1. This is so true, Kathryne. I've had 5 published novles and only 1 had the title I gave it (ECHOES). Haunting Beauty's working title was Beneath the Ruins which I loved--I thought it was the perfect metaphor for the whole story...but as you say, the title is part of marketing and they felt it needed a sexier title...and like any good author, when I was presented with Haunting Beauty, I said, "I love it! Thank you." :)

    I love The Lady of the Storm, btw! Can't wait to read it.

  2. Hi Erin! I loved the new title even more too! I'm madly at work on it, so hopefully you'll be reading it soon. :}