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Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Rose Is A Rose Is A...

Well, here’s news, and don’t forget, you heard it first in blogland. My May release, once self-titled BLACK ANGEL, and then publisher titled DEAD CERTAIN, is now being re-titled ONE DEADLY SIN.

What’s in a name--er title--you ask?

Sales and marketing apparently. Since the book revolves around the deadly tokens the heroine leaves for her victims—tokens that take the form of tiny black angels—my title seemed completely appropriate. But, it seems, a reader might pick up a book titled Black Angel and think it was some kind of paranormal story. Never mind that the back cover copy would indicate it wasn’t. Or, maybe the thought was that Black Angel didn’t scream, murder, blood, and death enough. Hence Dead Certain. But as some very well-read fans pointed out, Mariah Stewart already had a book out with that title.

Flashback to 2004. My second book is released with, it turns out, the same title as one by Lisa Scottoline, and one irritated reader is angry that s/he bought my book instead of hers and how dare I “steal” her title. Little did this reader know that books are produced months in advance, titles chosen long before the book is released, and there was no conspiracy to commit theft, only an unfortunate coincidence.

Flashforward to present. I’m not too happy to anticipate more letters of a similar ilk. So, after a little wrangling, I get a stab at a third title. But as these things go, nothing I suggested was as “strong” as the one the publisher liked. Hence ONE DEADLY SIN. Are there “sins” in the book? None that are discussed in those terms. But, hey, we’re all familiar with the sixth commandment. Maybe that will wash around in everyone’s head while they’re reading (unless you’re Catholic, in which case I understand it’s the fifth…)

Now, if the title sounds familiar, it is. But when I pointed out how derivative it was nobody seemed to agree.

Lessons learned? Authors don’t always get to choose their titles (same for cover art, by the way). Titles can’t be copyrighted or “stolen.” And there are often many books that share a title. As long as they are in different genres TPTB say it’s honky-dory.

What do you think? Not knowing what the book is about, how does the title ONE DEADLY SIN strike you?

Oh—and if you want to read a similarly titled (but here unnamed) book written in the late 80s, and you get mine, please. . .don’t write.


Blogger Anna Campbell said...

Actually I really like the original title. So shoot me! One Deadly Sin is catchy though and will look great on a cover. I'm currently going through something similar trying to come up with an acceptable title for my fourth book. The problem with writing dark historicals is that a lot of really great titles that really fit the story sound like paranormals (anything with shadow or dark in it, for a start!). Good luck with the new book! Sounds great!

October 13, 2008 at 3:27 PM  
Blogger Annie Solomon said...

Thanks, Anna. Yeah, I liked the original title, too. But the paranormal thing reared its ugly head. I don't see why those guys get to have all the good words!!

October 13, 2008 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger lucy said...

what about: deadly sin, one.

that would be its poetry title at least. i don't know how you put up with all that. it's enough to make someone never want to be published. so now when i never find a publisher, i'll pretend it was actually MY choice. you know, not wanting to compromise and all. that'll teach them.

October 15, 2008 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger Jody W. and Meankitty said...

I liked all the titles just fine. I wouldn't automatically think paranormal if I read "angel". Maybe if I read vampire or witch or gnome :). But it should be noted I'm title deficient.

October 15, 2008 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Annie Solomon said...

Yes, Lucy, your father's rationalizing gene is well placed. And I love your poetic take on the title.

October 15, 2008 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger Annie Solomon said...

Cat, I'll bet you could come up with a million funny takes on any title. And I agree with you on the "angel" thing. Doesn't automatically say paranormal to me. But all that's by the wayside now. I've gotten used to One Deadly Sin. Now if I can only title my next book, Two Lethal Lies...

October 15, 2008 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Marie-Nicole Ryan said...

I already have First Deadly Sin in the wonderful series featuring Lawrence Sanders' character, Edward X. Delaney. Very scary book, too, with a creepy, creepy serial killer. He committed a sin or two, too.

October 16, 2008 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Cassondra said...

Well, I have one by that title, but no worries, it's not anywhere NEAR being published, and I had no illusions the title would make it through the marketing department anyhow. (grin).

I think One Deadly Sin is a great title actually. I dunno that I would think Black Angel is paranormal, but I'm not a huge paranormal reader either, so maybe...I always figure the marketing people have a lot more experience selling books than I do, although sometimes I look at their decisions and go "WHAT?"

Anyhow, glad you finally have a title. I don't think there's a title out there that hasn't been used before, so unless it's the same as one on the shelf at the moment, or some mega bazillion seller, I figure we shouldn't sweat it.

I think it'll sell books!

October 17, 2008 at 1:21 PM  
Blogger Annie Solomon said...

well thanks for that encouragement, Cassondra! And if you sell your book and want to use the same title, I say, go for it. As for the marketing dpt, I don't know. I used to think they knew what they were doing, but if they did, we'd all be best sellers, right? I'm coming to believe that they don't know any more than we do. It's like trying to predict the stock market--and you know how crazy that is. No one knows. Which is why they should just let us use the titles we want. But I'm weak, so I caved. Frankly, I don't know how far I could have taken any kind of protest anyway. You reach a point where you have to pick your battles. Didn't seem like it was worth falling on my sword for this one. And WTF--I'm getting used to it.

October 17, 2008 at 1:31 PM  

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