Haven’t been blogging much due to a steady influx of houseguests. Well, it IS summer in Maine, the time when everyone wants to escape the heat and head north to our little corner of paradise.
So what’s the latest in the writing life? To start off, I’m sorry to report that I didn’t drink champagne on Wednesday night. Alas, the first partial week’s paperback sales of BODY DOUBLE only got it to #17 on the NYT list. Sigh. Then I looked at the other authors whose books debuted the same week: Nora Roberts. Dean Koontz. Clive Cussler. Catherine Coulter. Janet Evanovich. And I realized — whoa, there’s some pretty tough competition there! I’m going to hang on tight this coming week and see what happens next Wednesday. And hope that there are enough readers out there who care enough about Jane and Maura to want to find out what happens next in their lives.
Publishing lesson: Success is never a sure thing in this business. Ever. This is what keeps me humble and always feeling like a struggling writer.
There are times, though, when this business can get discouraging. When you take two steps forward only to follow that by three steps back. This evening, I was looking wistfully at the latest list of Book Sense Picks and wondering what it takes to be recognized by the literati. But then I realize that it’s time to get back to my desk and just think about Jane and Maura and what’s happening in their lives.
To get past all the discouragements in this business, and just think about the next story, which is — in the end — what really matters.
The other task that has been taking up a lot of energy is …
THE TITLE SEARCH!
Nope, not talking about real estate. I’m talking about what to call the next baby in development. Believe it or not, I find the naming of a book a really, really difficult thing. Titles that strike me as terrific may make the sales force in my publishing house groan. Looking back at my nine thriller titles, here’s where the titles originated:
4 books: my own titles
2 books: my literary agent’s suggestions
3 books: my editor or publisher’s suggestion
Why are titles so difficult? Sometimes, it’s a matter of marketing. For instance, I really, really wanted to name my next book “The Mephisto Club.” That was nixed because my editor doubted that the reading public understood the significance of the name “Mephisto.” I also tried out “Succubus.” No dice, ditto reason. I threw out some others:
HUNT THE DEVIL
THE SATAN HUNTERS
“No, no, and no” came back the responses.
(In the meantime, I’m already writing the book — have got about 1/4 of it written — yet no title! What do I do now?)
This struggle I have with titles sometimes amazes writing students, who tell me that for them, naming the book is the easiest part. But then I look at the titles they’ve chosen for their books (e.g. MANAGED DEATH — oh, puh-leeze!) and I’m reminded how hard it is to find a good title.
So… the search goes on. Hmmm. Maybe I should run a contest…