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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015



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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

What should I name the new book?

Sounds silly, doesn’t it? You would think that when an author writes a book and believes it is good enough to publish that he would have a title for it. Well, of course. But the title in our heads is often the result of being focused on the book, not on the reader. If your manuscript was placed at a commercial publisher and was being handled by both your agent and your editor, they wouldn’t take your title just because that’s what you named the book.

Perhaps the most famous contemporary example of this at work is the title of JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book. Released in the UK months before the US market, it was titled The Philosopher’s Stone. When Scholastic released the book in the US, the title was The Sorcerer’s Stone. Say what you like about which title is better, Scholastic made the renaming decision based on solid evidence from their market. They believed that kids and the parents who buy books for them would respond better to the new title. We will never know if it was simply so phenomenal that the book would have sold in the US under either title or if, like JRR Tolkein’s work, it would be a local phenomenon for years before it reached a popular US market and sale of the movie rights would take 40 years. I suspect, however, that Scholastic’s decision was right on the money. While The Philosopher’s Stone was historically more correct and was more closely tied to the research and historical/mythological intent of the book, The Sorcerer’s Stone appealed to a broader audience.

My first book was initially published in a fund-raising anthology as Security and Exchange. While it was a title that had layers of meaning to me as an author with a computer forensics detective, I soon tired of people asking me if it was about email servers! When the book was released by Long Tale Press, it was titled For Blood or Money and was much better received as a noir detective mystery.

So, now I’m publishing a new novel this summer. It has a working title that I’ve been quite fond of, but it is time to test the titles against real readers: You! Take a look at the survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HK2D2NP give me your opinion about what the title, tagline, and cover design should be. Don’t forget to leave your email address. I’ll do a random drawing from the respondents and the winner will receive a copy of the new book before it is released to the general public in July! The survey takes about 60 seconds to complete, so share your opinion and feel free to leave comments as well.

We’ll see if I’m as good at naming my next book as I was with my first!