Thursday, September 23, 2010

Guest Author: Emily Gee

Winner: Thank you for the fantastic discussion everyone. The random winner of Emily's giveaway is: Stephanie

Congratulations! I've forwarded your email onto Emily.
______________

I'm so happy to host the talented and lovely Emily Gee on the blog today! Please give Emily a warm welcome everyone.

Emily Gee

Hi everyone! I’m delighted to be here on the fabulous Nalini Singh’s blog!

Since I’m wrestling with titles at the moment, I thought I’d talk about the process of finding the right title for a book. Titles are tricky and elusive things! Sometimes the perfect title just appears out of nowhere – but just as often it doesn’t.

As an example, I’ll use a book of mine that came out in 2009 – a dark and romantic fantasy novel about a young woman (named Saliel) who is a spy. We’ll call it Saliel’s book, for now.

Saliel’s book started life as MASQUERADE, because both Saliel and the hero are spies and are (obviously) masquerading as people they’re not – in this case, nobles in the decadent and oppressive Corhonase court. The title fitted, but it was so generic that it had to go! (Visit amazon.com and see how many books have the title MASQUERADE. Lots!)

Next came the title WALK IN SHADOWS, which I still like for a number of reasons: Saliel and the hero are often in the catacombs below the Corhonase citadel (which are obviously dark and shadowy places); when they’re above ground in the Corhonase court, they’re constantly under the shadowy threat of capture and torture and death; and Saliel comes from the worst of her homeland’s slums, a taint that will forever be a shadow over her head. But that title was too like the title of my previous fantasy novel (THIEF WITH NO SHADOW). It made the two boo
ks sound like they were part of a series, which they weren’t – different worlds, different magic.

So Saliel’s book then became EYE SPY, which again fitted very well. The main characters are spies, and both Saliel and the sadistic spycatcher possess a form of magic called witch-eye. However, EYE SPY has a very contemporary and almost humorous ring to it, and Saliel’s book has a dark tone and is set in an oppressive Elizabethan world. So that title had to go.

Finally, my agent came up with THE LAURENTINE SPY, which is the title we went with. The title tells us that the book is about a spy, the fabulous cover shows Saliel and the hero in the catacombs, and while there’s no hint of magic in the title, the backcover blurb deals with that: Saliel has many secrets; her spying is one, her past as a pickpocket in Laurent’s slums is another, but her most deeply guarded secret is the magic she possesses. She walks a narrow path between discovery as a spy and being burned as a witch. Etc, etc.

So, there you have it: the evolution of a title! Any opinions? Did we go with the title you would have chosen for this book? Do you hate them all? Would you have chosen something completely different? Or do titles really have no importance on your book-buying and book-reading habits? (All commenters will go in a draw to win a copy of THE LAURENTINE SPY.*)

Emily's Website

*Contest closes midnight Friday 24th September 2010, New Zealand time. Winner will be chosen randomly via the random number generator at random.org and his or her name posted in the comments and on the top of this post.
Void where prohibited.

86 comments :

Pam P said...

Loved the Laurentine Spy, Emily, and that final title I did like best, did get my attention when I first came across it.
(have the book so not entering for it)

Diane said...

That is a lot of thinking to get the right title!

Mary Frazier said...

I love the title of the book.

To answer your question, yes the title is important to me. If it has a good title i will read it but if it doesn't i wont thats about all i look for on a book list is titles that stand out. lol i know i'm weird.
Anywayz please enter me in the contest.You can contact me here.
book_lover_10(@)yahoo(.)com

Ann Harcum said...

I do find that, in general, titles catch my attention if I am browsing the shelves. I like the titles Walk in Shadows and The Laurentine Spy and think they would pop out at me, but not so much with Masquerade (due to the number of books with that title) or Eye Spy which reminds me of the I Spy game we play with our kids.
stasiakatt @ yahoo . com

kylie said...

Normally I don't care too much about the titles of books by authors I have on auto-buy. New authors? Yes, almost as important as the cover art.

Emily Gee said...

Hi Pam P -- I'm glad you liked The Laurentine Spy! And I'm glad the title got your attention in the first place!

Emily Gee said...

Yes, Diane, it does take a lot of thinking. Don't get me started on finding a title for the book I'm writing at the moment. It's making me pull out my hair!

Emily Gee said...

Hi Mary -- I'm glad you like the title. Your comment makes me realise just how important titles really are!

Emily Gee said...

Yes, Ann, I agree with you. Masquerade doesn't jump out as a title. Hadn't thought of Eye Spy and I Spy. They sound exactly the same, of course!

Emily Gee said...

Kylie, I'm in total agreement with you! For a new author, title and cover are important; for an author I already love, it really doesn't matter much at all!

Amanda said...

The Laurentine Spy is definitely the title that grabs me the most. I like it best when the title is closely related to the story in the book, something too vague can be hard to remember which story it went with (especially if you read a lot of books).

PeppyPilotGirl said...

Fascinating process!

For myself, in an actual bookstore, I typically am drawn first by the font the title is set in (on the spine), which is what will catch my eye, then the title. But online, it's the cover displayed next to each search result that first catches my eye, then the title. I guess I'm just visually oriented!

Would love to be included!
kelleysquared (at) snet.net

Beck Atkins said...

I loved you're final title the best, you and you're agent made a good choice. I have not read your book yet, but reading you're blog I would love to read it and add it to my supernatural collection. I'm writing a book myself in a supernatural setting and I hope when it's time for me to create a title, I can take some inspiration from you. Your process is certainly helping my thoughts spin. I would like to be entered in this competition along with any advise you can share, contact me at beck_atkins@hotmail.com Thank you

Maree Anderson said...

I do love "Walk In Shadows" but I agree it's too similar to "Thief With No Shadow". I love the "The Laurentine Spy", though. It's a great title!

Yep, titles are important -- often not for reasons readers might expect. I made the mistake of using "Let Sleeping Demons Lie" for my second novella, little knowing that it was not only the title of a movie, but the title of a really popular episode of an equally popular series. The Google Alerts gave me kittens until I realized they weren't all applying to my little novella. Duh.I wish I'd thought to Google the title first, like you did for Masquerade, Emily. That's excellent advice.

Sheilah said...

I think that the title of the book is important as a mood setter. Tthough I tend to choose books that favorite authors of mine recommend and go out from there. I appreciate you taking time to describe the choosing process for us.

Princess_jime said...

Titles are important! I think your examples are right on, XD.
Especially when a book is humorous, I think, a joke or double entendre, a play of words, will make me give it a go on the spot, if the joke is not to my liking then no (I'm too picky when it comes to this). Of course, a humorous title will probably be lost in translation (I'm spanish-speaking), which makes it even more important.
Dark books, or "serious" books on the other hand, when their titles are too cryptic, will make me laugh, so I think a straight forward title that says it all and is unpretentious is best.
But like Kylie and PeppyPilotGirl said, what draws me most to a book is the cover art, graphics, fonts, the overall look, I guess it all comes down to personal taste?
I regret to say I've passed on books because I didn't like the title and/or cover, and then when I actually read the book, boy oh boy! I was smacking myself in the face!

Danielle said...

I definitely think that titles can be quite important, especially if I haven't read anything from the author.

It gives the reader an idea as to where the book will be going, plus as you said sometimes a ton of books can be called the same thing (which might not be helpful if you want to tell a friend about the book)

Truthfully I dont know what a Laurentine Spy is, so it defnitely gets some interest going. I'm going to look so that I can get some more inforamtion on the book. So I like it!

Sue (okibi_insanity) said...

I think the title the Laurentine Spy is different and it stands out. The title difinitely catches the reader's eye. I also loved the book cover.

Erika Gilbert said...

Titles are definitely important. I'm convinced they can effect whether or not a person chooses to read a novel. Both your titles made me curious and wanting to find out more!

lia said...

I really liked the final title The Laurentine Spy - it's much catchier than the others, and seems to fit your book well too (haven't read it, so I can't say!). I don't know if I've ever not read a book before because of a weird/quirky title, but the definitely matter in terms of distinguishing/remembering a book as well as discussing them. I remember attempting to put Tamora Pierce's book Page on hold at the library when it first came out, and the librarian asked me the title 3 times and had me spell it out before she would even look it up.

kaikes said...

The title is pretty important to me because i often pick up random books to scan and maybe buy based on their titles. I will also be less likely to pick up a book with a really bad cover. I really liked the titles with shadow in it because it gives that air of mystery plus it automatically feels full of magic.

Please enter me in the contest. "The Laurentine Spy" as a title still grabbed me.

kayle_marie@yahoo.com

Reidin said...

What I like about both of your final titles is that they leave a question that needs to be answered - What IS a Laurentine Spy / WHY does the thief have no shadow? It's things like that that capture the interest of readers. Case in point: I had not heard of your work previous to reading this blog, but both books sound intriguing*just* from the title, and I will definitely be looking them up! =)

I would also love to be entered in your contest!

ironreidin (at) gmail (dot) com

Roksana said...

I agree with Kylie, for new authors I also look at the Title and cover...if it looks interesting then I will pick it up. Some times however the cover and title is great...book not so much.

As for your titles...I think they are good and so are the covers...I would pick it up to read the back.

As for authors like Nalini...she could have a blank cover with the title in black, I would still read it!!

Rokmaharaj@hotmail.com

Emily Gee said...

Amanda, I'm glad we chose the grabbiest title!

Emily Gee said...

PeppyPilotGirl, I'd never thought about the font before! I've just had a look at my bookcase and you're absolutely right!

Emily Gee said...

Beck Atkins, good luck with writing your book -- and good luck with the title! Sometimes it definitely helps to brainstorm titles with other people.

Emily Gee said...

I think Let Sleeping Demons Lie is a fabulous title, Maree!

Emily Gee said...

Sheilah, yes, I do think titles are mood setters. I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

NanaVamp said...

Have you heard of author's not getting a sense of a title until the book is completed?

Emily Gee said...

Princess jime, yes, I've done exactly the same thing! Passed on a book because I don't like how it looks, and then discovered later that it's a fabulous read. Covers have a lot to answer for!

Emily Gee said...

Danielle, I'm glad you like the title! If you want some more info on the book, there's some stuff on my website (www.emilygee.com).

Emily Gee said...

Thanks for your comment, Sue. It is a good cover!

Mysteriousrose said...

Titles is important for me when I buy books and I like this title:-)

Emily Gee said...

Erika, I think you're right -- titles do have a big effect! I'm glad you liked both of mine!

Emily Gee said...

Lia, I'm glad you think it's a catchy title! I've read that Tamora Pierce series too -- it's a good one!

Emily Gee said...

Yeah, I like the titles with 'shadow' in them too, kaikes. You're right, there is an air of magic or mystery.

Emily Gee said...

I love your comment, Reidin! I'm glad the titles leave a question to be answered and that you find them intriguing enough to look up! That's the mark of a good title!

Emily Gee said...

Roksana, I totally agree about Nalini's covers. All they need is her name! She's a fabulous writer!

LaniM said...

Wow there is a lot of thought going into a title! I hadn't really thought about it before but yes if I wasn't drawn to the title I wouldn't pick a book up in the first place unless I already knew the author. As I do most of my shopping online having a "generic" title like Masquerade would probably get lost in cyberspace. :)

I definitely like The Laurentine Spy title best. The covers are very nice too which are equally as important. Please enter me in the competition...my email is lanim@vodafone.co.nz

Emily Gee said...

Yes, absolutely, NanaVamp! And also, authors not have any idea at all, even once the book is written. Sometimes the title can be the hardest part of the book!

Emily Gee said...

Thanks, Mysteriousrose -- I'm glad you like it!

Emily Gee said...

Hi LaniM, I'm glad you liked the title. Yes, good covers are extremely important (and I like mine too!).

Florentina said...

It's a very good title, Emily, and I think I would take it from the shelf at the shop and look at it more closely. I think titles are very important. Nobody looks at a book which title is not interesting. It's only bad that translators often choose another title which isn't as suitable as the title from the original book. I often wonder if they don't think about what they are doing.
However, your title persuades me to read your book!

lindseye said...

Titles do catch the ear and make me pick up the book. While all the titles seem appropriate I think the final choice does convey a feel of the story. Will have to go look for this one.

host said...

Very interesting post :) I haven't thought about titles of the books very much, but now I see that it is very complicated thing. And now when I think about the titles I can say that many times title alone made me buy the book.

Angela said...

Out of all the options I love the first and final title the most (though I completely understand getting rid of the first one).

Trying to title my WIP, I find this a fascinating post.

Titles are actually fairly important to me, because it's the title and the cover that will get me to pick a book up and read the blurb. I expect the title to tell me something about the book. And then titles are important after I've read the book, because if it's not something that I associate with the book easily, how can I recommend it?

Columbina said...

Titles are important. I'm now a fan of Kresley Cole, and if I hadn't finally gotten over the rolling eyes stage when I looked at the title (and cover) of A Hunger Like No Other, I would have greatly missed out.

Noel said...

The title I like best is the one which was eventually chosen. A good tile catches my attention the same as a good cover. Please enter me in the contest.
ngoudreau@sbcglobal.net

Diane M. said...

It's very interesting to see how authors decide the name for their books.

chichaihana said...

Love the title... it adds this hint of mystery to it and is a lot more original than some titles out there right now. And the cover adds the right spice to make you go "hmmm" and pick up the book to read the blurb :) Great job!

Thanks so much!
chichai_hana at hotmail dot com

Jo O said...

Titles aren't that important to me, except when the UK and US editions have different titles and I end up with the same book twice!

I tend to remember the authors name more, or the cover.

However, of the titles that you gave I like Laurentine Spy best:)

Princess Bumblebee said...

Honestly, the first title didn't really grab my attention, but I do like 'The Laurentine Spy'. Thanks for the insight into finding just the right title.
Titles are very important to me and I think, to all readers. After all, it and the cover are the first things we see and should grab our attention and interest. If it doesn't, we would never be tempted to read the book.

Erika said...

For me both the cover and the title are important when picking books, but the most important is the blurb. I think Walk in Shadows is more eye-catching than The Laurentine Spy, but I liked the blurb so I'm going to read the book.

Emily Gee said...

Florentina, yes, sometimes the translated titles are very different from the original titles! The first Stieg Larsson springs to mind -- Men Who Hate Women, in Swedish, and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, in English.

Emily Gee said...

Hi lindseye -- I'm glad you liked our final choice!

Emily Gee said...

Yes, host, titles are something you don't really think about -- until you have to come up with one yourself! A strong title really helps a book sell, I think. (Or at least, it makes people pick the book up.)

Emily Gee said...

Hi Angela -- I'm glad you found it an interesting post! Good luck with finding the right title for your WIP!

Emily Gee said...

Columbina, how fabulous that you've found Kresley Cole!

Emily Gee said...

Hi Noel -- I'm pleased you liked our choice best! It took us a long time to finally get there, as you can see from the post!

Emily Gee said...

Interesting is one word for it, Diane M -- but I would also call it maddeningly difficult sometimes!

Emily Gee said...

Chichaihana, I'm glad you love the title and the cover!

Emily Gee said...

Jo O, I didn't realise that US and UK editions of the same book could have different titles! That would certainly catch me out!

Emily Gee said...

Hi Princess Bumblebee -- yes, you're right, covers and titles are what make us pick up books, and therefore very important! I'm glad you liked the title we chose!

Emily Gee said...

Erika, yes, I agree -- I do love the title Walk in Shadows! I'm glad you like the blurb. I hope you really enjoy the book!

Anonymous said...

I think titles are quite important. Unless it's one of my auto-buy authors, a catchy title will make me pick up the book.

Looks like you have good titles and lovely cover art. I am certainly intrigued abou these stories.

Valerie
valb0302@yahoo.com
in Germany

Madeleine said...

The title 'the laurentine spy' sounds really interesting, although I also liked the 'walk in shadows' one.
I think it's fascinating if you read a book and afterwards understand how far the title fits the book so well, because there are just too many books with titles that have absolutely no connection to the story and you spend a lot of time wondering about it.

Stephanie said...

I love the title of the book. Titles have a big importance on whether I buy a book if I am looking for a new author. Thanks for the giveaway.

smccar1(at)hotmail.com

Emily gee said...

Guten Tag, Valerie! Yes, an auto-buy author can have hideous titles and I'll still buy her books!

Emily Gee said...

Yes, Madeleine, I agree! There are books whose titles seem to have nothing to to with the book! It's great when you come to understand the title as you read the book.

Emily Gee said...

Hi Stephanie! Glad you like the title!

Kate M said...

Hi,

Titles aren't important for an established author or one whose works you already read - but, definitely if you're in a bookstore and just browsing, a really good title will catch your attention - then for me I will read the blurb and if I like it - buy it :).

For me "walk in shadows" would be more 'eye'-catching - but obviously Emily you had a good reason for choosing not to go with it.

Fuarie Ai said...

Titles of books make no difference to me. Well unless it is something I am writing. No what draws me in is the cover page and then the summery on the back off the book.

Emily Gee said...

Kate M, I really like Walk in Shadows too! I'm hoping I'll be able to use it one day!

Emily Gee said...

Hi Fuarie Ai. Yes, a good cover is extremely important! The best covers will make passersby stop in their tracks just to see what the book is. I think some of Nalini's covers are like that -- they're marvellous.

Jenny Schwartzberg said...

Oh, I didn't realize you had a second book out! I really liked Thief with No Shadow. And the title The Laurentine Spy sounds really interesting. Need to hunt a copy down... I'd love to win a copy and my email is schwartzbergj newberry org

Emily Gee said...

Hi Jenny, I'm glad you liked Thief With No Shadow! I hope you like The Laurentine Spy just as much!

Krystyn said...

If the title doesn't fit the book, even if it's imaginative, it detracts from my overall rating of the book. I can't count how many times I've read a book, compared its story to its title, and felt no connection. Sometimes it's just too generic. I think The Laurentine Spy fits perfectly. :)

vkrystyn88@hotmail.com

Emily Gee said...

Hi Krystyn, I'm glad you think The Laurentine Spy fits. I agree, a title should fit the book!

maered said...

I don't think the title is all that important. The most important thing is the blurb and the writing.

I would puzzle over a title that didn't fit the story but I think the cover has more impact than the title.

ilona said...

I don't really give much thought to how the titles are chosen but I do choose some books because of the title.

In the case of both your books, it was the titles that attracted my attention in my local library(I enjoyed reading them very much).

I am not sure I would have enjoyed The Laurentine Spy as much if I had seen it as a follow on to Thief With No Shadow and then realised it wasn't.

As for the title Masquerade, it actually puts me off, I have seen it that often. I only get books with that title if someone else has reccomended it to me before I hear the title.

Marie said...

The title evolution was interesting, but I loved the cover more.

Emily Gee said...

Yes, Maered, a good cover can't be beaten!

Emily Gee said...

Ilona, I'm glad the titles attracted your attention! (And I'm glad you enjoyed the books!) Yes, that's why I felt it was so important not to have Shadows in the title -- it would set up an expectation, closely followed by disappointment or annoyance!

Emily Gee said...

Marie, I'm pleased you like the cover! It's a good one, isn't it?

Nalini Singh said...

Winner: Thank you for the fantastic discussion everyone. The random winner of Emily's giveaway is: Stephanie

Congratulations! I've forwarded your email onto Emily.

Emily Gee said...

Thanks for the discussion, everyone! And congratulations Stephanie!