Titles (and other things that keep me up at night)

We're back! (with one caveat - christy is on vacation and erica is back to work. so consider this a trial week back)

(please note - what appears below is erica's opinion only. and mostly meant tongue-in-cheek since it's my last day of summer vacation and even though I love my job, the start is always a little crazy-inducing)

Book titles. They're hard for me. When I first name my WIPs, it's a placeholder. Take Coyote Hotel for example. I started with my original idea, started a few pages, and saved them in Word as "Ghost Coyote or Coyote Hotel" because those were my two ideas (and Ghost Bed and Breakfast sounded cheesy). I fully intend to change it before querying. I did the same general thing with A New Day, but you know what? The title fits. Is it a little plain? Sure, I can take that criticism. The thing is, I've been told lots of times that titles change. Agents change them. Editors definitely change them. Authors *might* have some say in it, but in the end, it's the publishing house that gets the say. So I was never too worried about it.

BUT - christy and I both noticed at WOC that agents (in critiques and the "ninjas") often left comments that included "this title needs to be changed", "any chance you can improve the title?" and "I'd request this based on title alone." Not supposed to judge a book by it's cover, eh?? Not always true! Pay attention to your titles, friends, because apparently eveyone else is!

Word counts. I won't say a lot about this topic since it's been blogged about by people with a lot more experience than I have. But I will say that the "nothing over 100k" rule pretty much held true, but I was surprised to see a few (non-fantasy) with 80-90k word counts that got agent reviews without a reference to word counts. So, hey, write on, friends! When it works, it works.

Rules that exist only to drive erica crazy. Don't include your genre, word count, or title in your pitch? No problem, full request coming your way. Have a pitch that agents scream yes for? Send in 3 chapters. Have one scratching their heads a little? Full, please. Have a pitch that the agent says is confusing, but since it's a book set in WI, she's willing to take a look at it? A partial would be great! (okay, that last one was my example. I'm very grateful for the request and admit I struggled with my Twitter pitch and knew it was a little confusing. I just figure people were a little mad at me when I got through based on my setting! (I swear, the book isn't a bad as my 140-character pitch!))

Stupid things only erica would do. Okay, seriously, this one's a record even for me. A long time ago, I opened a personal hotmail account to keep track of my writing/blogging/querying stuff. At the time, to get gmail, you needed to be able to receive a text message to accept your account and I didn't (and still don't) have a cell phone. So hotmail it was. Fast forward to the conference we went to in April and I got a few partial requests and decided to try a gmail account again, and it worked (I even tested it by sending something to myself). Nothing. Silence. Crickets. Not one email back. Fast forward (again) to last week. APPARENTLY GMAIL DOESN'T INFORM YOU WHEN YOU GET SOMETHING IN YOUR SPAM FOLDER. ALL my other accounts do. I never once thought I'd have to go searching for the spam folder (until the Miss Snark thing when she recommended it after the autobot didn't respond). When I finally figured out how to check, it had three things I was waiting for (from WriteOnCon, Miss Snark's First Victim, and author Jenny O'Connell since I won a book from her) and several others that really were spam. And anything more than 30 days old is history. So - best case senario, they were still no-responders or form letter rejections. Worst scenario, they were all full requests and now think I'm ignoring them. BECAUSE WHO DOESN'T GET AN EMAIL IN 4 MONTHS, ERICA, YOU DUMMY??!!

These are the things that keep me up at night, people.

Anything interesting happen while we were gone?


  1. The agents' comments from writeoncon just go to show how subjective this business really is. :)

  2. Ha! I love this. First, I start with titles in a book---I know it's dumb, but they mean A LOT to me. Second, the agent stuff was a bit arbitrary, but I sort of think that goes to show that you shouldn't be so sensitive when people say no (bc sometimes it is a bit arbitrary). Third, the SPAM email folder--he he he, I might have wondered when I got NOTHING.

  3. Wow! Two blog posts I was completely unaware of! Sorry, BP! Yes, still camping away. And starting to STRESS out about school. Haven't unpacked my boxes. Haven't cleaned. Haven't purchased name tags. aaaahhh! Have a great day back today! I'll pitch in again here soon! Christy

  4. At Write On Con, one agent said not to worry about titles because they often get changed anyway. So now I won't worry!

    Good luck with back to school.

  5. oh, MAN!!! That gmail thing would be driving me crazy right now... was it a lot of queries? Maybe you could send them a very nice note and explain what happened. UGH!!!

    As for the title thing, that's my biggest problem, too. But I kind of like Coyote Hotel! go with that one! It's intriguing~ <3

  6. Pitches are hard enough, but I find Twitter pitches to be the devil. I didn't get through on that one, but it didn't cross my mind to be annoyed that you did because of your setting. Whatever works for you! And hopefully she'll love your partial. Good luck! (And remember to check your spam folder regularly!)

  7. Titles are my ain true enemy...and I got a critiqe from an editor at SCBWI who told me to re-think my title, too. It's hard b/c as you mentioned, you also get advice to not worry about the title, it'll be changed...but then yu get editors and agents telling you to work on *scratches head*

    Just know this, those things that keep you up at night? Yeah, pretty much the same things for me. And I'm pretty sure the same for most writers out there.

  8. Titles are so hard, and yes, many people totally judge based on that. Which is unfortunate since most agents will tell you, don't get attached to your title, the publisher will likely change it. Ugh! I feel your frustration!

    Glad you ladies are back, even if it's only on a trial basis. :)

  9. There are times working titles are my first inspiration. If they get changed there's not much you can do. Don't you wonder who picks when a title has nothing to do with book? That drives me crazy.
    Ever since Yahoo reversed my inbox and my spam box I check them both no matter what the server.

  10. Very interesting! First I have to say that I agree--I hate that gmail never tells you when you have spam. I mean, you have to HUNT for the folder, even. Harumph. I've had some things shuffled off into my spam folder too.

    Titling--fascinating, yep. It's right up there with a cover, in my mind. I can decide to read a book just based on the cover/title. A New Day sounds rather bland to me, but it may fit the story. It sounds like a contemporary story just from the title. Which brings up the point that I think a title needs to match whatever genre a writer is going for. Like, paranormal needs to sound mysterious or edgy, that kinda thing. Ya know? Sci-fi needs to sound intelligent or futuristic, etc. Having said that, an editor DID suggest a change to the title of my light sci-fi novel. :)


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