A few years back Jennifer Ashley and I did a workshop on Title & Premise and how writers could get the interest of editors, agents or readers before they even started the book.  Today, I want to concentrate on the title part. 

A lot of writers skip skip working on a title or figure that it’s not that important because it’s only likely to change anyway.  And while it’s true that the writing is what will sell your book, the title can lay a lot of groundwork for you. 

I’ll never forget the day colleague Chris Keeslar swung by my office all excited: “I just got this proposal called THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER. I haven’t even started it yet, but don’t you just love that title?”  Fortunately, Leanna Renee Hieber‘s writing lived up to it. 

A good title will:

  • Indicate the genre
  • Give a sense of the tone
  • Provide continuity for similar/series titles
  • Intrigue the reader

Julie Kenner (The Givenchy Code, Carpe Demon) and Katie MacAlister (Love in the Time of Dragons; Sex, Lies and Vampires) are some of my ultimate heroes when it comes to clever titles.  But a title doesn’t have to be particularly clever or humorous.  Because, remember, it has to fit the tone of the book.

How to come up with a good title:

  • Figure out what best conveys your style. Is it sexy? Funny? Dark? (all three?) Are you trying to convey a certain time period? 

Let’s use Jennifer Ashley’s paranormal-historical Nvengarian series as an example.  Our theme: Fairy Tales

  • Brainstorm lists of words that convey the style you’ve chosen.

-         Prince Charming, Once Upon a Time, Happily Ever After

  • Start playing around with those words and combining them with other aspects that make your work unique. Look for rhymes, alliteration, wordplay. Keep in mind that it needs to be able to fit on a mass-market cover and still have room for the art.

-         Penelope & Prince Charming has great alliteration and works in the fairy-tale theme.

-         The second book in the series was tougher. Nothing in the list above sounded original enough.  So Jennifer concentrated on the time period with a rhyme and came up with The Mad, Bad Duke.  It’s clearly Regency set–a play on Lady Caro Lamb’s words about Byron “He was mad, bad, and dangerous to know”—which Regency readers recognize.  It also sounds playful and sexy.

-         With the third book featuring a fun-loving Scot, we came up with Highlander Ever After, again pulling in that fairy-tale theme.

     

Where to find inspiration for your titles:

  • imdb.com – The Internet Movie Database
  • your CD collection
  • rhyming dictionaries
  • regular dictionary
  • advertising slogans

Most of all, brainstorming should be a fun process, not a hair-pulling one–even if it feels like it sometimes.  Just stick with it,  don’t be afraid to ask everyone you know for suggestions, and go with what feels good.

And a totally shameless plug that has more to do with art than titles: Check out Jennifer’s PRIDE MATES on Clash of the Covers this week.

Part of Borders’ new RomCon (Denver, July 9-11) is a reader-judged award called The Readers’ Crown.  The winners in each of 11 categories receive some pretty impressive in-store promotion.  

Congratulations to our finalists:

ANNE MARSH – THE HUNT, Best First Book

 

JENNIFER ASHLEY – THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE, Best Long Historical

EMILY BRYAN – “My Lady Below Stairs” from A CHRISTMAS BALL, Best Novella

A full list of finalists can be found here.

Congratulations to Jamie Ungaro, the newly crowned Mr. Romance from this weekend’s Romantic Times BookLovers Convention. 

And more congratulations go to Reviewers’ Choice Award winners Jennifer Ashley for THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE and Nina Bangs for ETERNAL CRAVING.  

  

I’ll be a panelist on Friday afternoon for Romance in the Backseat’s Book Bloggers and Publisher’s Conference.  Which made me realize that I’ve been really behind in the blogging. Topics will include how authors, bloggers and publishers can all work together, whether authors should blog, building your audience and more.

But my lack of posts is hardly for lack of good stuff going on.

As many of you likely know, it’s bracket time.  Forget basketball and vote for your favorite romances in the Dear Author/Smart Bitches DA BWAHA TourneyJennifer Ashley‘s THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE (Historical) and THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER by Leanna Renee Hieber (Paranormal) both made the big dance.

Releases for books through October 2010 can now be found on the Coming Soon page.

Feeling the luck of the Irish?  Win a bundle of books by signing up for our Romance newsletter. And even if you don’t make it in time for the drawing, we still have all kinds of exclusive freebies only available to subscribers.

Congratulations to Jennifer Ashley, who is now a  New York Times bestselling author!  PRIDE MATES is also on this week’s USA Today list.  Hooray for sexy shifters!

SunriseinGardenGet a peek at our April 2010 releases.  The slate includes Barbara Monajem’s debut, SUNRISE IN A GARDEN OF LOVE AND EVIL, a paranormal romance that Susan Squires calls “in the spirit of Charlaine Harris.” 

SUNRISE is also the first book in our new lineup of Publisher’s Pledge titles, books the editors have hand selected as being so strong that we’re willing to offer readers a refund if they don’t absolutely fall in love with the story.

Hope you also enjoy the larger cover images!

And on the Coming Soon page is a listing of ALL the May 2010 books on the Dorchester schedule, along with a new excerpt for PRIDE MATES, the first book in Jennifer Ashley’s Shifters Unbound series, coming in February.

Congratulations to the following finalists for the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence:

     

Emily Bryan has posted more RT photos on her site, including shots from the Mr. Romance competition.

Speaking of RT, Teri Thackston wrote a great recap of the Dorchester Spotlight.  The only thing you’re missing is the chocolate we gave out.

Jennifer Ashley is over on The Chatelaines today–part of her huge blog tour–talking about the dream life of an author.

And catch a glimpse of the darker side of Dorchester with Executive Editor Don D’Auria’s interview at Famous Monsters.

Jennifer Ashley is over at The Good, the Bad and the Unread today.  Take a look and see what all the Madness is about.  She’s got four ARCs to give away to folks who comment.

The Chicago Tribune says about THE MAGIC KNOT:

Taylor’s wonderfully creative and lusciously sexy debut will cast its own magical spell over readers.

PW has given HUNT AT THE WELL OF ETERNITY, the first book in a new adventure series, a starred review!  They say it “raises the action bar to nosebleed heights….Pulp adventure fans will be thrilled to see the genre so smashingly resurrected.”

Jennifer Ashley‘s THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE and ENCHANTING THE BEAST by Kathryne Kennedy are RT Top Picks for May.

The former publicist in me just can’t help highlighting some particularly amazing recent reviews and good news.

First, though, congratulations to Carolyn Jewel, winner of the complete set of March romances for her comments on excerpts.  Thanks to everyone who chimed in!

Over the weekend, The Chicago Tribune ran a fantastic review for Elisabeth Naughton’s STOLEN FURY: “…[a] superbly written debut. Naughton deftly distills deadly intrigue, high adrenaline action, and scorchingly hot passion into perfectly constructed novel of romantic suspense.” Read more.

 

 

Emily Bryan‘s 50 Days 50 Blogs tour is at a close. But the amazing review for VEXING THE VISCOUNT are starting to roll in.  And this one was just so enthusiastic, how it could not make me smile?  From Penelope’s Romance Reviews:

Every once in awhile I discover a new writer and I am filled with glee.  A fresh, new voice! An engaging story! Wonderful, fully-formed characters who are interesting, and more importantly, who I grow to care about as I read the novel! This was my reaction to reading Distracting the Duchess by Emily Bryan. (I also had this reaction when reading Candice Hern’s In the Thrill of the Night and Elizabeth Hoyt’s The Raven Prince).  I found Emily Bryan to be a unique voice in the land of historical romances. This genre has a tendency to be very formulaic, but when it’s done well, it is a treat for the reader.  I had high expectations for Vexing the Viscount, and Bryan delivered. Vexing the Viscount is fantastique! (I apologize for breaking into francaise, but Blanche La Tour has inspired me, vraiment!) This book is the total package…witty humor, lusty sex, intriguing plot, great pacing, and marvelous characters.  I loved the unexpected flashback to Caius Meritus in ancient Rome.  It was a great device to pull you into the mystery that Daisy and Lucian are trying to solve. Caius’ tragic love story is very touching and really brings history alive. C’est magnifique!  I must admit that when the premise for the story was revealed (virgin pretending to be a courtesan), I thought “Now how the heck is Bryan going to pull this one off?” Honestly, it was done incredibly well.  I highly recommend Vexing the Viscount.  And now I am off to find a croissant au chocolat! Au revoir! Grade: A 

Emily’s also opened The Courtesan’s Club on her website with all kinds of outrageous info and fun.

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer AshleyBarbara Vey of PW’s Beyond Her Book featured Jennifer Ashley’s THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE on her Your Turn Friday feature, calling it “Mysterious, heartfelt, sensitive and sensual…two big thumbs up.”  Read more.

 

 And technically, this isn’t romance, but three of Leisure’s horror authors–Graham Masterton, Richard Laymon and Jack Ketchum–got a nice shoutout in a list of the Top Horror Authors of all time.  If any genre is more stereotyped or misunderstood than romance, it has to be horror.  The horror editor here was appalled when I told him one day that I thought everyone had to die at the end of a horror novel.  He’s since enlightened me.  ;-)   And that’s why you’ll see in Coming Soon some books from our horror list that I think could appeal to crossover readers, including #20 himself, Graham Masterton (who, by the by, Cosmopolitan has quoted several times as a “sexpert.”  Who says romance and horror don’t mix?).