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e_moon60

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enTITLEment: the new book [Jan. 9th, 2009|12:55 pm]
e_moon60
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I had a title I really liked for the new book, resonant with various deep plot elements (family relationships, bloodlines, depth of commitment to this and that) but although the alpha readers liked it, some people who hadn't read the book were put off by it.  UK editor said she thought it was too "urban fantasy".  

So as of today, there's a new tentative title.  Agent likes it, and thinks editors will also like it.    It has resonance with many of the ceremonies of the new book, and is a more open association than before.  I still like the old title a little better but I like lots of people picking up the book and actually reading it more.

Titles, as I discuss in the Paksworld blog, have many tasks to perform for a book, all of which combine in "attract potential readers who will probably like the book."  

So--though it's still tentative, I expect that Oath of Fealty will make it through the editorical filters.    If it doesn't, I'll let you know what the next attempt is.



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Comments:
[User Picture]From: galbinus_caeli
2009-01-09 07:23 pm (UTC)
You do know that there is a Niven/Pournell novel by that title, right?

Not that that is a show stopper, I think I have five novels called Ice and Fire and at least three entitled Stargate.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-01-09 08:09 pm (UTC)
And undoubtedly more, but the crux for (most) publishers is "How recently?"

That's to avoid confusion, since titles (unlike the contents of books) can't be copyrighted.

Given the other virtues of titles (relatively short, strong words, closely related to the text, makes sense) uniqueness is a minor virtue.

You always hope to find a unique one, but especially in genre books, re-use/re-cycling is not uncommon.
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[User Picture]From: galbinus_caeli
2009-01-09 08:12 pm (UTC)
Fair enough.

And the duplicated titles are far less annoying to the reader (well, this reader at least) than the same book being released with more than one title. I have a number of those too.
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[User Picture]From: xinef
2009-01-09 08:28 pm (UTC)
I agree about duplicated titles, but have to admit that I immediately thought of the Niven/Pournell book when I saw "Oath of Fealty".
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[User Picture]From: galbinus_caeli
2009-01-09 08:30 pm (UTC)
To tell the truth I had to google it. The first thing I thought of was "Oath of Gold" but that may be because I was in a used book store yesterday and they had a row of about 27 copies of it up on the shelf. I wonder if some school used it for an assignment.
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[User Picture]From: xinef
2009-01-09 08:38 pm (UTC)
IIRC, it is from that book that I got one of my favourite quotes "think of it as evolution in action". So, I don't forget the title.
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[User Picture]From: galbinus_caeli
2009-01-09 08:41 pm (UTC)
Ack. Here we go with the same title multiple books confusion. The "Oath of Gold" I saw a bunch of copies of was our host's "Oath of Gold". I think you may be thinking of a spiritual/new agey book called "Oath of Gold". I know of at least two of those as well.
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[User Picture]From: timill
2009-01-09 10:33 pm (UTC)
"Think of it as evolution in action" is quoted from the Niven/Pournelle "Oath of Fealty".
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-01-09 11:59 pm (UTC)
If you have separate US/UK publication, changes in title from shore to shore can happen willy-nilly. My UK editor didn't approve one US title and insisted on changing it...and yes,that caused confusion to some. I mentioned it at publication time, and also had it on my website identified as the same book with a UK title, but some folks who hadn't looked at my website thought it was a different book.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-01-09 11:52 pm (UTC)
Reprint date isn't the date that counts. Original publication date counts--or so I've been told.

But we'll see what the editor says...they're the ones who make the decisions.



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[User Picture]From: lothy
2009-01-09 08:40 pm (UTC)

I like that title. I've personally never come across another book called Oath of Fealty (nor, indeed, a short story or film, as far as I can remember). It's also a title where I'd pick up the book and read the back cover even if I hadn't heard of the author.
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[User Picture]From: burger_eater
2009-01-09 10:08 pm (UTC)
I like that title.

Me, I've had all three working titles for my books rejected with extreme prejudice. I've started to hate titles.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-01-09 11:56 pm (UTC)
Titles can be very difficult. Sometimes you get one person in the chain of decisions who thinks readers won't recognize a word or phrase and sinks a perfectly good title...sometimes a book with the same or "too similar" title has come out in the past year or two...sometimes one thing, sometimes another.

My UK editor didn't like "Marque and Reprisal" for the first reason; I've had other titles tossed back for the second reason.

OTOH, when you get the right title (and are allowed to keep it) it really does help the book.
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[User Picture]From: burger_eater
2009-01-10 12:37 am (UTC)
I find that opinions on my titles are split: I love them and the rest of the world hates them.

Well, not the entire rest of the world.

Anyway, when I mentioned my title of my second book to my agent, she said it had the wrong tone--it was a title for a comic romantic romp rather than a supernatural thriller (for the record, it was Everyone Loves Blue Dog). In the world inside my head, the title was perfect, but apparently it needs to be appropriate for the world outside my head, too. My editor laughed out loud at it, which is a pretty honest response.

I'm cool with honest responses, but I kept that title in the page header while I wrote and revised the book, because it helped me create it. Now that it's turned in, I'm happy to change it however I have to.

This comment is way longer than I'd planned, but
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-01-10 05:48 am (UTC)
It sounds more like a comic romp to me, too, but I understand how it could be perfect as a reverse cue for a supernatural thriller. The problem is...people have to know you write supernatural thrillers (or whatever kind of thing it is) before the reverse expectation of the title will work for them.

At this point I could probably write a military SF series with titles like "Space Pirate Hairbows" or "Little Old Lady Goes to Alpha Centauri" and people would settle into their chairs ready for spaceships and mayhem...but even so editors probably wouldn't let me do it. (I had a notion to name the first Vatta's War book "Space Opera with Fruitcakes" and that was shot down too. Editor laughed but said, on second thought, no.)
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[User Picture]From: burger_eater
2009-01-10 06:23 am (UTC)
"Little Old Lady Goes to Alpha Centauri" sounds pretty cool, actually.

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2009-01-14 10:26 pm (UTC)

Title is done

Yup, Oath of Fealty has been approved by editors and their overseers on both sides of the Atlantic. It is now the title, as far as they're concerned.

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