Much Ado About Book Titles
Titles are important. They, along with cover art, are the first things we see when we browse the book shelves or an online store. And they’re danged hard to figure out, too. I struggle with titles, and generally call upon my friends for help early on with the process. It’s true—no friend is safe while I’m trying to think of a title!
When I wrote Much Ado About Marshals, single titles were king and few authors wrote series—New York publishers said series didn’t sell in the romance genre. It turns out their wisdom wasn’t so on target when the industry shifted toward ebooks (it’s still evolving), and series took the throne.
The first three books in my Hearts of Owyhee series were written as single titles, even though they contained crossover secondary characters and were all set in Owyhee County, Idaho Territory. But once Much Ado About Marshals was released, readers asked for the second in the series. I’d written another book, The Comfort Palace, which had finaled in RWA’s Golden Heart contest, so I used that for the second book and changed the title to Much Ado About Madams, since it’s set in a brothel. The third book was originally titled Roped, Tied, and Married—featuring a woman in a non-traditional role. That one became Much Ado About Mavericks.
No fourth book was planned, but readers wanted me to write Iris’s story. Much Ado About Marshals starts off with the hero, Cole, shot while attempting to thwart what he and the bank teller (Iris) thought was a robbery attempt. Cole’s the hero in that book and Daisy, Iris’s sister, was determined to marry him because she thought he was Oreana’s new marshal. So when Iris shot Cole, the die was cast—she had to have her own book. And you know it has to start with her shooting the hero. That book’s title is Much Ado About Miners. Are there any miners in it? Sorta. Kade McKinnon’s family owns the Ten-high Straight Mine, and there’s another miner character, too, but that’s about it.
Now, it’s time to write the fifth book, and I’m forever on the search for M words. Here’s the thing—when you start a naming convention, it’s a really good idea to make it a bit flexible. Okay, lesson learned. But now I’m stuck with Much Ado About M words. And there just aren’t that many Old West M words. The fifth book might be named Much Ado About Misses (or maybe Maidens) and I’m thinking Bram McKinnon, Kade’s older brother, will be the hero in that one. Haven’t figured out the heroine yet. The sixth book, tentatively, will be Much Ado About Mustangs, and Josh would be the hero in that one. I do a little setup in Much Ado About Miners for him.
You can bet that when I start another series, I won’t ride into a box canyon with my titles—they’ll be much more open. Troy Smith has done a good job with titling the books in the Wolf Creek series (written by a collaboration of authors under the house name Ford Fargo). Book one is Bloody Trail, book two is Kiowa Vengeance, book three is Murder in Dogleg City, etc. When we pick up Night of the Assassins, we know it’s set in Wolf Creek and we know who the characters are, because it’s part of the Wolf Creek series, same as A Wolf Creek Christmas or the next book (in which I contribute chapter 1, to be released in March), Stand Proud. None of the titles have any similarity and all describe very well what to expect in the novel.
I have a few more series planned, all novella series. One is the Soiled Doves series, a spin-off of Much Ado About Madams. One is The Muleskinners, and the first story, Judge Not, is in the anthology, Hell on the Prairie. I get the rights back on that soon, so I’ll reissue it and then publish the second story in a few months. Another series is the High-Stakes Heroes series. None of these will be titled so similarly as the Hearts of Owyhee books, which everyone calls my Much Ado series. Well, that’s not the series name!
Give me your take on titles. Do you prefer similar titles, as in the Hearts of Owyhee series, or would you rather have totally different titles, such as in the Wolf Creek series?
Happy 2014! May this be your best reading year ever. ☺
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Well, darn, I just wrote out a big long comment, clicked on Publish, and it disappeared! Before I try again, let's see if this works!ReplyDelete
Okay, second try. Writing it in Word so if it disappears on me again, I can recapture it! What I said was that ordinarily I easily get titles mixed up if they share similar words. But I’m not having that problem with your Much Ado titles, maybe because despite the same initial letter, there’s no similarity in meaning between madams, miners, etc.! Then I said that I believe writers should take the similar-sounding titles into consideration when coming up with a title. Check them out on Amazon, and so forth.ReplyDelete
Yes, do check on Amazon. I wanted to name this next one Much Ado About Marriage, but that title is already taken. Titles aren't copyrighted, but in this case, I sure don't think using that title is a good idea.Delete
Titles might catch my attention but they aren't the only thing that draws my attention to a book. I love checking out covers and reading cover blurbs. How about Much Ado about Moonshine or Mules? Just a couple thoughts... I love the titles you've chosen, and I'm looking forward to reading the series!ReplyDelete
HiDee, I'll have to check to see if they used the term "moonshine," but that's a good idea. Definitely will use Mules or Muleskinners. I think the importance of a title depends on the venue. In a brick and mortar bookstore, the only thing you see is the spine, so the title would make or break. On Amazon, you see both a thumbnail and the title, but not the blurb. What makes you click on it to read the blurb? Because you have to have already made the decision that a book interests you before you ever get to the blurb.Delete
I love your Much Ado titles, Jacquie. They reflect the comedy in your Hearts of Owyhee series in a delightful way. I can see how limiting the fourth word in each title to an "M" word could be challenging though.ReplyDelete
To answer your question, I like series books to have linked titles--just something in common to "brand" that series.
Luckily, I know your phone number. ☺ So load up on M words! And thanks--I do think Will made it a lot easier for me to instantly convey tone and romance. I wonder what his next N word would've been. Nickels, Nags, Nipples? Hahaha. I guess that's not any easier than M words.Delete
How about Much Ado About Mail-order Brides? Not all M's. Does close count? Or a hypnotist and call it Much Ado About Mesmerism? Okay, time for me to go to bed. LOL I don't care what you call them as long as you keep them coming! I have always loved series--ever since Nancy Drew books were my thing.ReplyDelete
I'm thinking about doing a short story series of mail-order brides, so that wastes an M word. Maybe Mail alone would work, though.Delete
I've never been enamored of true series, where one book starts up where the previous one quits, but I do like the type of series that's actually connected books, with a family or setting in common, but each book is standalone. Your Kincaid series is an excellent example.
Enjoyed your blog! I kind of like titles that are linked. It helps me identify the series and I can tekk at a glance which ones I have read!ReplyDelete
Tell not tell.ReplyDelete
Great topic. My two series and a trilogy have like titles. Marshal in Petticoats, Outlaw in Petticoats, Miner in Petticoats, etc. But I call them the Halsey Brother Series. the NA trilogy Spirit of the Mountain, Spirit of the Lake, and Spirit of the Sky are all similar, and the Action Adventure titles are Secrets of a Mayan Moon, Secrets of an Aztec Temple, Secrets of a Hopi Blue Star. Even the spin off trilogy from the Halsey series has the same word in the titles: Laying Claim, Staking Claim, and Claiming a Heart. I think when there is the similarity in the title it makes it easier for the readers to find more books in the series, unless you use a subtitle that can link them all. Interesting thoughts. I like your titles.ReplyDelete