Friday, July 5, 2013


By Sue Ann Jaffarian

I will admit that I have battled with one of my publishers over some of my titles.

Now, remember, as a rule we authors have NO SAY in our titles or covers.  If the publisher doesn't like the title that arrives with the manuscript, they will usually suggest a few others or ask the author for other possibilities. But in the end, it's their decision and theirs alone.

Overall, though, I've been very happy with the titles of my books, both mine and those chosen by the publisher. The only one I've never liked has been Ghost in the Polka Dot Bikini. The title and the cute book cover both make the story seem much more cozy than it really is. In fact, it has been mistaken for a YA book.  My Ghost of Granny Apples books are cozy-ish, but not to the degree that title and cover suggest. 

There have also been manuscripts I've submitted with titles I didn't like and asked the publisher for  suggestions. Thugs and Kisses was submitted as "Mother Mayhem," but I was never in love with that title. Neither the publisher or I could come up with anything better. Right before it was finalized, I was online playing backgammon against an opponent with the handle of "Thugs&Kisses." The next morning I contacted my publisher and we both agreed "Mother Mayhem" should be dumped in favor of Thugs and Kisses.  Booby Trap started life as "Epitaph Envy."  We both turned our brains inside out for Twice As Dead and Hide and Snoop. The publisher picked the titles in the end and they have both worked well. 

In December, my 8th Odelia Grey novel will be released. It began life with a different title, but I really like Secondhand Stiff, which was chosen by the publisher, and suits the story.

I'm currently working on Odelia #9, which has a working title of "Murder Ball." I'm ready to do battle to keep that title, but we'll have to see.  After all, I'm just the author.


Meredith Cole said...

Love "Thugs and Kisses"!

I have to be the worst title writer on the planet... but occasionally I come up with one that sticks (and pasts muster with my publisher).

BWKnister said...

Meredith--Not true: Dead in the Water, viewed with the unignorable graphic on your cover could hardly be improved on.
And: a while back, I asked you whether Criminal Minds could take up the point-of-view questions related to crime fiction that is NOT written in first person. This is self-serving: my new mystery THE ANYTHING GOES GIRL uses multiple points of view (even briefly that of a dog in the prologue), so I am very interested to learn what CM has to say.