So, first things first: the winners of my giveaway!
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: Jami G.
The Demon’s Covenant: Gillian
The Knife of Never Letting Go: Aja
Today’s blog post is about titles that get used more than once. When I was trying to come up with a title for my second book, I knew I wanted something that evoked my first one. That is, I wanted something that had the same structure (Blank by Blank), that was also a subtle play on words, and that had a kind of sexy element to it. Thus I came up with Trial by Desire–a title the book really grew into, in ways that I hadn’t anticipated when I first started writing it, since you can take pretty much any of the definitions of “Trial” in the dictionary, starting with “the determination of … the righteousness of his cause, by a combat between the accuser and accused” through “the fact or condition of being tried by suffering or temptation,” and everything in between.
In other words, it was the perfect title. But when I checked Amazon, there was already a book called Trial by Desire–written by Elisa Curry, published in 1984. What was I to do? I shrugged, figured that the book was no longer commercially available, and that was that.
The same thing happened with my February, 2011 release, which is titled Unveiled. Unveiled was the perfect title–absolutely perfect. I had sat with friends for hours, rejecting one title after another. I wanted something that suggested mystery, spotlessness, pristine beauty–and the hint of something to come. When a friend of mine suggested Unveiled, I knew it was the right title.
This was more problematic. When I checked Amazon, there were actually a number of books called Unveiled–one about the hidden lives of nuns, one about women in Islam. One of them was even a historical romance, written by Kristina Cook in 2005–an author (and an all-round wonderful person–I hadn’t met her at the time I chose the title, but did shortly afterwards) who is still writing today, under Kristi Astor.
Ultimately, I decided to just go with it. Our names sound different enough–and there was enough of a time-gap–that in mass market, the likelihood of confusion was small.
But sometimes books end up with the same titles even though they are released within months of each other. One example of that is Maggie Robinson’s Mistress by Mistake–a fabulous, funny, extraordinarily sexy book about a woman who goes to visit her fallen sister, only to be mistaken for a courtesan herself. This book happened to be released within months of Susan Gee Heino’s Mistress by Mistake–a fabulous, funny, extraordinarily sexy book about a woman who gets tipsy in celebration, and accidentally ends up in bed with a man who thinks she is a servant. They are both debut books, both quite excellent, and both really awesome.
Still, I know some people wondered: How on earth does this happen? Easy–Maggie Robinson is published by Kensington. Susan Gee Heino is published by Berkley. Neither knows the titles the other is planning on using, until the catalogs come out–at which point it is too late to change the title, because accounts are placing orders and the covers are already finished. Sometimes, lightning strikes. What are you going to do?
First, you can shrug your shoulders and say, “oh, well.”
Or second, I can give away a copy of both books–which is what I’m going to do. So if you want a copy of either Mistress by Mistake–by Maggie Robinson or Susan Gee Heino–let me know in the comments, and I’ll draw a winner early next week.
P.S. Maggie Robinson’s second book is titled Mistress by Midnight, and I am eagerly awaiting its arrival in January of 2011. Of course, I just got wind that Nicola Cornick’s December 2010 title is Mistress by Midnight. What can I say? Mistress titles are all the rage!