I was listening to Kate Atkinson talking on Woman's Hour a few days ago about her new book 'When Will There Be Good News'. She said that she often gets her titles first and can't start until she's got a title. With a writer of Atkinson's standing the title isn't important. I buy her books because of who she is. With less well known writers the the title might be everything, might make or break the book. A great example is the Ukranian Tractors book which seemed like the dullest title in the world but caught the attention of the book world and turned out to be a bitter sweet book and a good read.
I write for teenagers and even though I'm reasonably well known in the trade I can't assume that teenagers (or those who buy books for teenagers) will know who I am and associate my name with gritty crime fiction.
Writing for teenagers means that your target audience moves on every couple of years and you have to win over a whole new wave as they come into secondary school.
So although my book LOOKING FOR JJ was read widely in the last couple of years it doesn't mean that the new wave of teens will automatically know about me or my work.
Every book I write has to have an eye catching title. I've realised this in the last couple of years and even though I have working titles I think very hard about what goes on my front cover. Essentially I want the title to say something of what the book is about.
This year I've written a book about jealousy. It's a kind of modern Othello(!!!). A love triangle in which jealousy causes a tragic act. When I was writing it I called it INVISIBLE ME. Then I started thinking about a teen picking up this book with this enigmatic title. The meaning of the title would certainly be clear once the reader had read the book but I had to get them to BUY the book first. So the title had to be more eye catching and say what the book was essentially about. It had to be like a tin of beans. I came up with JEALOUS and my editor suggested JUST JEALOUS which I think is spot on.
Will it work when it's in the shops? I'll have to wait and see.