Friday, November 20, 2009


Some great blog posts in the kidlitosphere on titles and covers today:

First up, EDITORIAL ANONYMOUS answers every writer's burning question--Do I have to come up with the perfect title for my manuscript when I know if I ever sell the darn thing my editor will probably change it?

Second, ANDREW KARRE, Editorial Director of Carolrhoda Books/Lerner Pub Group, shares the trials and tribulations of choosing a YA cover and why that decision is so very important in a two-part post: Why YA Covers are Hard & We've Been Busy.

And for the all titles and covers affect book sales, let's go back to the PW article WHAT TEENS WANT?

What Motivates Them to Buy

Consistent with our 2005 survey, book copy was the most important factor that would make teens pick up a book. A stunning 91% saw this as the most important influence. The cover was important to 79%. The next most important influence, with 77%, was familiarity with an author's previous work; 74% were looking for the next book in a series. For 73%, the title was important. (See related post HERE)

As writers, you have little control over what your cover will look like, but you do have control over the title you stamp on your hot, new love-it-so-much-I-hope-every-agent-and-editor-who-reads-it-sees-why manuscript you submit.

When a submission hits my inbox, one of the first things I notice is the title. It is usually in all caps or italics or bold so it's hard for it not to be the first thing my eyes track to. Titles are not something to anguish over, they are your golden opportunity to attract someone to your manuscript. To make an agent or editor think....I have to stop what I am doing and read this query/ms now!

What I find interesting is that many writers think a manuscript title must tell me what your story is about. Let me make this clear...A book title's job is NOT to sum up your story. A book title's job IS to entice an agent/editor to request your full manuscript and/or move your full to the top of their reading pile.

Your book title is your whistle, your magnet, your bullhorn.

So, how do you write a title if it is not what you are good at. Ah, this is where the 'it takes a village' comes in.

Fee associate a bunch of titles. Type them out, double spaced, and eliminate the ones you hate. Send the list to fellow writers, friends, kids. These writers, friends, kids do not have to read your book first. Heck, the agent/editor you are querying hasn't read your book yet and that is who you are trying to attract. Ask 'which title would make you want to pick this book off the shelf?' Let each person only pick three and order their winning choices.

Don't pour years into a book and short change your title. You are just short changing yourself.

And yes, not every title of famous and super seller books are bullhorns. But that argument does not hold water with me. Don't look towards the mediocre and say it worked for them, aspire to the stars and look towards the neighboring galaxy.


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