Friday, 22 August 2008

Beanz Meanz Heinz Anne Cassidy

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.


adele said...

JUST JEALOUS is a good title, Anne and you're quite has to be a BRAND! A strong and consistent cover image works (vis Jacky Wilson and Nick Sharratt) but this can work against you if you're not careful, with, for example, Jacky's teenage books often being thought much YOUNGER than they are. But good luck with this one....sounds exciting to me!

Nick Green said...

Interestingly enough, you end up with another 'JJ'!

Subliminal branding?!

Penny said...

Yes, your new "Just Jealous" title feels positive - if potentially nasty - while the "Invisible Me" does come over across as rather faded and negative - and would a potential reader choose a book like that? Jealous, yes - but Invisible - no!

However, I'd say that Kate Atkinson's crime titles do matter in that they echo a similar word pattern. It was the title's lettering/font across the cover that made decide to buy the first two books in the series. Good luck with your Just Jealous, Anne.

Lee said...

Oh dear, Adele, the last thing I want to be is a brand. Or branded, age or otherwise.