I SO thrilled to have one of my favorite historical romance writers on the blog today. It’s my good pal Ashley March, and she’s here to give us the inside scoop on her latest book, Romancing The Countess. Take it away, Ashley!
Insider Information: Behind the Title
Thanks so much to Vanessa for hosting me today as I continue celebrating the release of my newest book, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS! Vanessa is one of my very favorite fellow romance authors, and it’s such an honor for me to visit with her and her readers.
One of the questions I see romance readers ask most frequently is how a title was chosen for a certain book. Did the author come up with the title? Was it the publisher’s decision? Why that title specifically? The topic of titles seems to make the rounds among readers quite often, especially if there’s a title that grabs a reader’s attention or makes them roll their eyes in annoyance.
Of course I can only speak from my own experience, but today I’d like to tell you some insider information about how a title is chosen. Here’s a little sneak peek behind the scenes:
My first book, which was published in October 2010, was originally titled SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY. I chose this title because I thought it matched the tone of the book, I loved the words—they weren’t like any other romance novel title—and this line from a Byron poem has a connection to a poem Philip writes for Charlotte. My publisher, which has obviously done a lot of research and knows what sells and what doesn’t, thought that this title was too quiet and wasn’t sexy enough. In the end, the title they decided upon was SEDUCING THE DUCHESS.
My second book, the one we’re celebrating with this book tour, was originally titled AN AFFAIR OF THE HEART. I chose this title because, again, I thought it matched the tone of the book and I like the play of the word “affair”, considering that the hero’s and heroine’s spouses had an affair. My publisher, however, thought the title was too overused (most people know the phrase affaire de coeur, yes?). We went back and forth again and again and could never come up with a title we both liked. I believe I suggested titles with the word “veil” in them because of the significance of Leah’s veil in the book. My agent was even brought in to offer suggestions. Finally, my publisher decided on ROMANCING THE COUNTESS, as it has a certain pattern that reflects the title of the first book. The only small issue that’s come about as a result of this choice is that I’ve heard from readers who assume that the two books are related because of the similarity in titles, when in actuality they’re completely separate.
My novella (actually a short story) which is related to ROMANCING THE COUNTESS, was again difficult. I don’t think I even had an original title for it because I assumed it would be changed. 😉 After a few rounds back and forth, I finally suggested ROMANCING LADY CECILY, which ended up sticking. I liked it because it had a name in the title, which to me made it unique; my publisher liked it because the ROMANCING part of the title made it an obvious tie-in to the full-length ROMANCING THE COUNTESS.
As you can see, a lot of thought and back and forth goes back into the final decision on titles. I’ve heard a lot of readers complain about the similarity in titles among different authors, and I can certainly understand what you mean—I’m a reader myself. The truth is that there are certain words that publishers gravitate toward because they’ve done research and those words seem to help titles sell better. What are those words? You’ll probably recognize them: duke, marquess, earl, viscount, duchess, countess, (most nobility titles), sin, wicked, rake, scandal (and variants such as scandalous), rogue, wild, lord, highlander, etc. Of course we’re speaking of historicals here, and although I haven’t done any research, I feel fairly confident that 90% of the historical titles you’d pull off the bookshelf have these or similar words.
The question is: what do you, the reader, think of titles? Which ones catch your attention and which ones make you dismiss them? Do you gravitate toward titles with certain words in them? What do you think of the titles chosen for my books?
One random commenter will be chosen to win a copy of my newest book, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS (open internationally)! Also, find out how to win the ROMANCING THE COUNTESS Book Tour Grand Prize of 50+ romance novels by visiting www.ashleymarch.com!
Vanessa, here. Wow! What a fabulous contest! And readers, if you haven’t yet read any of Ashley’s books, get thee to a store or e-tailer pronto. I know you’re going to love her wonderfully romantic stories!