Monday, February 20, 2012

The Road to Publication: Part Five

[This is part 5 of a summary of Spookygirl’s journey toward publication. Use the Progress tag to access all related entries.] 

If there's one thing a writer dreads hearing from a publisher, it's probably this: "We should consider changing the title." 

OH NOES. Really? But it's my baby's name! It's perfect! 

Nah, I was expecting it. I've read enough about other writers' experiences to know how common title changes are. You may think your title is a glowing example of literary perfection, but you're probably not as experienced with book marketing as your publisher. What you really want is a title that sells your book.

Julie was concerned about Spookygirl because it's a name used by other characters to tease Violet. I countered that Violet kind of likes the name. Instead of letting it insult her, she steps up and owns it. Julie also wanted the title to focus more on Violet's paranormal communication and investigation abilities. If we stuck with Spookygirl, we'd need to add something to it. 

One thing we considered was using some version of the first chapter's title: Death, High School, and Other Necessary Evils. I liked that as a chapter title, but as a book title it seemed a little long and clunky. Other variations we tossed around included: 

Spookygirl: Paranormal Investigator 
Spookygirl: Ghost Hunter 
Spookygirl: R.I.P.
Spookygirl: Death and High School 
Death and High School (and Other Necessary Evils) 
I'll Talk to You When You're Dead 
I'll Talk to You When You're Dead (Maybe) 

We finally settled on Spookygirl: Paranormal Investigator. It felt like a nice compromise all around – the focus on paranormal investigation was there, but I got to keep Spookygirl. The final cover design (which I expect I'll see sometime soon, yay!) will reflect the updated title. 

Wouldn't mind using I'll Talk to You When You're Dead (Maybe) for another book in the future, though . . .

Up next: The devil's in the details.


  1. I honestly love the initial cover... just hope they get her necklace the right color on the updated version :)

    1. I love it too, Cara. The model looks like Violet and captures her personality so well. From what I've heard, the final version will be very similar, but the necklace is changing. We'll see! I had to turn in my author photo and bio a few weeks ago, so I'm hoping that means the final cover is just about ready to go.

  2. I like the cover too! I always have trouble with titles, so if a publisher/agent wanted to change my title to something better I'd be fine with it. :)

    1. Thanks, Krista! Yeah, that's the way I saw it. I'm very fond of Spookygirl as a title, so I'm glad I got to keep a version of it, but I was open to the other possibilities.

  3. Jill, it didn't read your excerpt last year but as the contest progressed, I loved reading the imaginative book titles. Your title always stood out to me. It was interesting and drew my attention immediately.

    For me, adding 'paranormal investigator' doesn't enhance the one word title. But I'm not a publishing or marketing professional. That was particularly clear with the title to my second (and still unpublished) novel, Death at the Jungle-bunny Journal. (It's about the murder of a black newspaper publisher. The intital cop in the investigation referred to the paper in that way.)

    That's a title I know a publisher would change.

    1. Thanks, Michael. I went back and forth on the addition of "Paranormal Investigator," but I do like that it puts Violet's interest in investigation front and center. Plus, I can keep calling the book Spookygirl for short.

      Oh yeah, I imagine a publisher would strongly suggest changing your title to avoid knee-jerk reactions. Then again, a little controversy seldom hurts book sales...

    2. I entered that novel in ABNA in 2009 under a different title -- A Murderous Dispatch -- to avoid that controversy and later wished I hadn't. (It was eliminated in the first round.) Afterwards, I went back to the original title. I haven't queried agents with it in about two years so it's gathering dust on my harddrive.
      The newspaper was originally called the Indianapolis Courier-Times but I changed it to the Indianapolis News Dispatch when I changed the title.

  4. I really like Spookygirl: Ghost Hunter and the cover is amazing! I seriously can't wait until it comes out!!

    1. Thank you, Malcolm! I actually have the final cover now and will be sharing it very soon. :)