Just popping in early Sunday morning to break out a discussion regarding titling books. As you know my book titles are:
My Daughter’s Boyfriend
My Husband’s Girlfriend
My Best Friend and My Man
Now, cutting to the chase: some readers LOVE my titles, think that they are catchy and are intrigued enough to put the books on their shopping list, etc. Others, as I am starting to find out, are wondering what the heck is going on and why do I name my books in this manner, yada yada.
One lady wrote me and said that the titles don’t leave room for imagination and am I going to consider changing how I do things.
Which brings me to this — titles sell books. An author or a publisher is trying his or her best to choose a title that will immediately click with a potential reader. You want your titles to stand out. You want it to perfectly convey the gist of your story. I am 100% aware that my books reach a certain target market so, of course, there will be readers that automatically pass up my books because they may be turned off by the content, titles, etc. And that’s fine. I don’t believe there is any book that every single person on earth is going to want to read. Not even Harry Potter and these sell millions (yet I’ve never read an HP book).
So I know my audience. And it is true that it takes several books before your readers find you. It takes years to build an audience. And usually the way to do that is by carving out a niche in the literary world — a niche that identifies you as an author. Carl Weber, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Zane, Noire, Shannon Holmes, Victoria Christoper Murray, and countless others (well maybe not countless) but lots of authors have successfully managed this. I think it is too risky to write 7 books and all of them are drastically different from one another. You’re dividing up your audience when you do that. So long story short, in order to build your career, in the beginning you’re looking for consistency so people can know who you are, what you write.
A little history – when I was unpublished and first wrote My Daughter’s Boyfriend, I had no idea that anyone would want to publish the book. It wasn’t like I purposely said “I’m going to write lots of books that start with the word MY”. That wasn’t the case. I knew that MDB was a catchy title from the jump. The agent loved it and so did my publisher. And that is the reason I got my foot in the publishing door in the first place.
My second title My Husband’s Girlfriend was actually created by my then editor. So I didn’t name the book. My title was The Arrangement. But she actually started this trend for my books and I am grateful. It works! My books consistently sell. No, maybe not 100,000 per title but I have sold 100,000 copies collectively (or at least 100,000 are in print). The point is the publisher knows how to market my books. They know what they are doing and I am glad about that.
Now, at this point I have no idea what a 7th or 8th title would be. Not there yet. Hope to be there, but we’ll see. I love writing books, love meeting fans, love it when people email me and say how much they enjoyed my books, how they are addictive, and how they connected to the story. These are the people that inspire me. I write for them. The ones that get it. Now, for the ones who don’t, I’m sorry that they read the books and take it so seriously. They act like the characters existed in real life (LOL) and have a major attitude. But that’s fine because my books are very emotional. You’re going to feel pissed off when you read my books. And that is an amazing feat to me — to take unreal people, fictional situations — and cause readers to experience a myriad of strong, (STRONG) emotions, that sometimes sends them over the edge. Whew! Scary!
And the title, the cover, the storyline are what makes a reader pick up my book in the first place.
The next novel My Best Friend and My Man, same thing. You kinda sense what the book is about, but it won’t be 100% predictable. (Hope not anyway, that would be scary too).
I’m currently reading a book called Why Black Men Love White Women. Hey, I love the darned title. It drew me in. And the book is fascinating and not what you think, it has surprises. The title is catchy. Some will write it off immediately without having read one word. Their loss. Take a chance though. Pick up a book with a title that makes you upset. You might be pleasantly surprised!
Signing off now…to finish reading a book with a controversial title.