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Everything Books
Writing and reading and books, books, books (and anything that might relate)

October 10, 2013

Changing a book title you love

ohtheplacesyoullgo_ipad_screen1large-642x481One of the questions I get asked most often is about titles– where do my book titles come from, does the editor come up with them, do I come up with them, does the publisher weigh in?

The answer can vary from book to book.  I named Ada Blackjack, Velva Jean Learns to Drive, Velva Jean Learns to Fly, and the forthcoming Velva Jean novel, American Blonde (out July 29, 2014).

My mother came up with The Ice Master, while my editor at Simon & Schuster– after the two of us brainstormed words and phrases associated with the 1980s– suggested The Aqua Net Diaries.  My editor at Penguin created Becoming Clementine after the marketing department decided that the third Velva Jean should have its own stand-alone title.

I’m happily attached to the original book title of my first YA novel (due out from Knopf in early ‘15)— You Make Me Lovely.  Yes, I named it, but if I saw that title in a store, I would probably pick up the book out of curiosity if nothing else.

But I’m a girl.  And my publisher (which includes that very important marketing department, as well as the cover designer) is worried that the word “lovely” might be a turnoff to boys of all ages, and since one of my main characters is a guy, I can see their point.  This is a book that should definitely— subject-wise and character-wise— appeal to guys too.

In my search, I first combed through my manuscript to see if there might be a line that would not only fit but stand out.  Then I started combing through the works of everyone from E. E. Cummings to Shakespeare to Lord Byron to Dr. Seuss.

I whittled five pages of possibilities down to twelve titles, which I sent to my editor, who then polled her colleagues at Knopf and Random House.  One week later, there was a clear winner:  All the Bright Places.  I got the idea from Dr. Seuss’s wonderful Oh, the Places You’ll Go!  And I have to say, it’s not only fitting for the story, it’s really starting to grow on me…

oh-the-places-you-ll-go-dr-seuss-screenshot-3Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.

Of course, now I have to rename my documents and get used to calling it All the Bright Places instead of You Make Me Lovely, but one step at a time.

September 12, 2012

iLiterature

Filed under: writing — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — phoebe @ 12:50 am

In the midst of Apple’s reveal today here is a list of the best writing and reading apps for your iPhones and iPads.

1. 3D Classic Literature Collection -  World’s first 3D book flipping held in your hands.

2. Collected Works – Classic literary pieces, from Alice in Wonderland to War and Peace, available right from your iPhone

3. Evernote – Organise notes, and basically anything else. Available on and offline and syncs between all your devices. Great for college students!

4. British Library 19th Century Collection – 100 free available titles.

5. Red Laser Barcode Scanner – Scan a barcode of a book and find the closest library, purchase online, or near by store.

6. iBooks, Kindle and Nook App – For reading on the go!

7. ElectricLit – A quarterly release of some of the best writers and their short stories.

8. Wattpad – The Youtube for readers and writers. Share and discover stories.

 

July 2, 2012

Titles and Book Covers

Filed under: writing — Tags: , , , , , — jennifer @ 9:07 am

Titles change and so do book covers. For a long time, I’d been calling Velva Jean’s third adventure Velva Jean Learns to Spy. But that book (to be released September 25) is now Becoming Clementine. These decisions aren’t always left up to the author, though we do weigh in. There are many, many, many people (editor, publicists, marketing department, sales department) involved in choosing the title, just as there are many, many, many people (art department, editor, publicists, marketing department, sales department, book sellers) involved in creating and weighing in on the cover.

Speaking of covers, here’s the final cover for the new book, with just a few small changes (can you spot them?). It’s funny how many versions of a cover you can go through. Velva Jean Learns to Drive went through five completely different covers before we found The One.

People always ask me which, of my covers and books, is my favorite book cover and my favorite book. But that’s like asking a person to choose his favorite child or cat. I love them all equally but in different ways, and I have my own distinctive relationships with each one. (But I have to say I’m pretty wild about the cover for Becoming Clementine!)

(You can pre-order your copy of Becoming Clementine here!)

January 26, 2012

Behind the Book — The New Title Revealed

Filed under: writing — Tags: , , — jennifer @ 12:46 pm

I promised in Tuesday’s post to reveal the new title of the third Velva Jean book.

But first a little about the book itself: Velva Jean Hart has taught herself to drive and taught herself to fly, and by 1944, she has earned her wings as a member of the WASP. As her third adventure begins, Velva Jean flies a B-17 Flying Fortress into Prestwick, Scotland, going in search of her brother and best friend Johnny Clay, who is missing in action. In Scotland, Velva Jean volunteers to fly dangerous top-secret missions for the military into occupied France, but she has no idea just how dangerous these missions will be or what kind of dark and exciting days lie ahead… She will learn to fight and to spy and, after all the work she’s done to “live out there,” she will learn to lose herself in a new identity that’s created for her. She’ll lose her heart as well, and all the while she searches for her brother… Will she find him? And, at the end of it all, will she be able to find herself again?

With that said– are you ready?– we’re calling the book (are you sure you’re ready?)………. Becoming Clementine. It will be released August 30, and, in just a couple weeks, I’ll be revealing the cover here, as well as sharing an excerpt!

January 24, 2012

Behind the Book — Naming a Book

Book titles are tricky. Sometimes they come to you naturally and easily and sometimes (most of the time) they’re more evasive. John Steinbeck said, “I have never been a title man. I don’t give a damn what it is called.” But I do. I think titles are important.

Tennessee Williams said, “The title comes last.” This has, for the most part, been my experience. I spent two years researching and writing The Ice Master before choosing the title, which was suggested by my mother. After my editor and I settled on The Ice Master, we came up with a subtitle: “The Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk and the Miraculous Rescue of Her Survivors,” which became simply “The Doomed 1913 Voyage of the Karluk” because my editor felt the former was too wordy and gave too much away.

I went through at least fifty titles for my memoir about high school (including the uninspired High School and the more inspired Riding in Trans-Ams with Boys) before my editor– during our brainstorm of 1980′s-related words and phenomena– came up with The Aqua Net Diaries.

In the case of my first novel, Penguin originally wanted to change the name Velva Jean Learns to Drive so that it wouldn’t be confused with a children’s book or a young adult book, but I stood firm and convinced them otherwise. When it came time to choose a title for Velva Jean Learns to Fly, Penguin wanted to change the name to something that could stand alone and didn’t mention Velva Jean (the sales and marketing teams have very good and convincing reasons for this). But I wanted Velva Jean Learns to Fly, and I fought for it.

With this third novel in the Velva Jean series, sales and marketing have again stated their case– more emphatically this time– about leaving Velva Jean out of the title. After all, they argue, she’ll be mentioned in the jacket copy and also on the front cover (which will say: “Author of Velva Jean Learns to Drive“). The few readers I’ve mentioned this to have reacted almost violently– they want Velva Jean’s name in there! I understand this because part of me does to. I like the symmetry of Velva Jean Learns to… But this third time around, I’m ready for a change.

Maybe it’s because I don’t want potential readers to pick up the book and think, “Oh, it’s some series about some girl named Velva Jean, and I haven’t read the first two so I can’t start with this one,” or maybe it’s because I’m, every now and again, feeling the itch to move beyond Velva Jean into new characters and new settings, or maybe it’s because of the nature of this third book– it’s a darker, broader, more epic tale, full of adventure, danger, intrigue, and action (and a grown-up love story!). Or maybe it’s because sales and marketing make a really good case. Whatever the reason, I feel ready for a new title.

The challenge about revealing said title is that, until you read the book, it’s going to be hard to really get its meaning and impact. But then, aren’t so many good titles like that?

E.L. Doctorow said, “You’ll find a title and it’ll have a certain excitement for you; it will evoke the book, it will push you along. Eventually, you will use it up and you will have to choose another title. When you find the one that doesn’t get used up, that’s the title you go with.”

That’s how I feel about this new one. I had a couple of other titles for it at first, but I wore those out. Then my editor suggested one– what ultimately became the final one– and I wasn’t sure at first. I mulled it over, I tried to think of others, I tried living with this one or that one for a day or two. But I kept coming back to the one she suggested. And now I like it. I really do.

So what is the final title for Velva Jean #3? You’ll have to tune in here tomorrow for the reveal…