Title Confusion

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oldhousejunkie
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Title Confusion

Post by oldhousejunkie » August 5th, 2011, 9:59 pm

Oh dear, oh dear... I just found out that there is a sci-fi book out there (represented by an agent I was planning on querying) with the same title as mine.

Um, what to do? I'm not particularly attached to my title, but I honestly have a hard time coming up with titles (my hubby usually supplies me with some good ones).

Since my book is historical fiction, should I even worry about it?

Collectonian
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Re: Title Confusion

Post by Collectonian » August 5th, 2011, 11:07 pm

It depends. Sometimes, its fine, particularly if it is still not that well used a title and you are in different genres. However, if it is The Enemy Within from your signature, I'd honestly recommend changing it. That title has been very well used, including multiple books (fiction and non-fiction), a Star Trek episode, and a song or two. :-)

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Quill
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Re: Title Confusion

Post by Quill » August 5th, 2011, 11:14 pm

Don't worry about it. The publisher can choose to supply a new title when the time comes.

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polymath
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Re: Title Confusion

Post by polymath » August 5th, 2011, 11:50 pm

Enemy Within has a lot of cultural traction, fiction, play, nonfiction, other media. I don't think anyone has it sewed up tighter than a trademark. However, I think the agency being queried might balk at representing two novels with the same title. That seems to me to be the primary issue. Sure, different genres might not raise eyebrows, although that kind of awareness would demonstrate to the agency that the writer has done her homework. A line in the query saying something like, I'm not married to the title but it feels most thematically central, might work magic.

I believe the strongest titles are thematically relevant. The Enemy Within title for a Civil War era historical fiction suggests to me a thriller theme, maybe a spy novel or treason events. One worry I'd have due to that title is that the novel might takes sides in a still contentious conflict that left some important sociopolitical issues undecided. There's a lot of peril potentially in taking sides, though taking sides artfully personalizes a narrative. It's a conundrum. Who is the enemy within? If it's a person, I think that's great. If the novel's a social commentary about one side or another's betrayals in the times, I think it might be too controversial to handle.
Last edited by polymath on August 12th, 2011, 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Watcher55
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Re: Title Confusion

Post by Watcher55 » August 6th, 2011, 12:27 am

If it were me, and I didn't mind changing the title in the first place, I'd go ahead and change it - at least for that agent. Not that it's a bad title, but hey - it's a business decision.

Based on your query alone, maybe something similar like: HER CLOSEST ENEMY or CLOSE ENEMIES.

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Re: Title Confusion

Post by CharleeVale » August 6th, 2011, 12:38 am

Quill is right, titles often get changed during the publication process. Did you know that 'Twilight' was called 'Forks' when it was first queried?

But Watcher is right too....if you're not attached to it, change it, no harm done.

Why don't you slap a synopsis on us? Maybe we could help you with some more suggestions...

CV

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Ishta
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Re: Title Confusion

Post by Ishta » August 6th, 2011, 12:53 am

I'd change it, if only to avoid putting off the agent who reps a book with the same title.

Watcher has some good ideas. Or maybe something with "Betrayal" in it?

Best of luck with the querying!

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Re: Title Confusion

Post by MattLarkin » August 11th, 2011, 3:46 pm

CharleeVale wrote:Did you know that 'Twilight' was called 'Forks' when it was first queried?
Really? :lol: That's the best thing I've heard in a while. A paranormal romance named..."Forks"

Imagine the Twilight-phenomenon named after Forks.

"All those Forkists."

"And another Forky ripoff."

"Meh, your plot sounds to Forkish to me."
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oldhousejunkie
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Re: Title Confusion

Post by oldhousejunkie » August 11th, 2011, 8:48 pm

Thanks for the feedback everyone! My apologies for taking so long to come back and check it out. While I think that THE ENEMY WITHIN is applicable, I've wondered that based on first impressions, when I write an e-mail with the subject QUERY: THE ENEMY WITHIN, that perhaps an agent is getting the wrong idea to start. Then they read the query and they think, "Wow, I so didn't see this as a historical fiction." I'm probably overthinking because I got my first rejection on a full today, so I'm feeling kind of vulnerable. :-(

I won't give you a full synopsis, but here is the query, so you can get the point:

Julienne Dalton watches her home burn, her father lying dead at her feet, while a pack of renegade Union soldiers disappear into the cold Kentucky night. Orphaned at nineteen, she is determined to restore the family’s ruined horse farm and seek justice for the atrocities committed against her.

When Julienne overhears that Union troops are preparing to confront the Rebels in a nearby town, she delivers the details to a Confederate spymaster. She is invited into a ring of agents, charged with gathering information for the Cause. Julienne charms unsuspecting Union officers into giving away important secrets and her success is a balm to the fury within her. But a host of conflicting emotions arise upon meeting British expatriate Alexander Caulfield. The visiting businessman is unlike any man she has met, for he seems captivated by her love of philosophy and chess. Julienne is puzzled by his attentions and yet longs for his love; however she must close her heart to him if she wants her treasonous activities to remain secret.

After escaping imprisonment in a Union camp, Julienne discards her misgivings, and marries Alex only to discover the greatest betrayal of all—he is tracking down Confederate spies for the Union Secret Service. Fearing that her treachery will be uncovered, she flees the country for France, intent on forgetting Alex. Julienne is travelling through England when she learns that the sickness plaguing her is something else entirely. She is forced to remain in a secluded village in order to protect the life of the child she carries, but remaining in her husband’s homeland is dangerous—for Alex could find her at any moment.


Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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Re: Title Confusion

Post by dios4vida » August 11th, 2011, 9:22 pm

Hmm...here are the themes I've seen and/or words and phrases that came to my mind. They might help to inspire you.

Unforeseen betrayals, loving the enemy, passion amongst patriots, civil unrest (for the double meaning).

Will post if I think of anything else. Good luck.
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Quill
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Re: Title Confusion

Post by Quill » August 12th, 2011, 2:16 am

Vengeance or Love

House of Betrayal

Brookfield Farm

Brookfield Horses

Julienne Dalton: Rebel Spy

For Love or Vengeance

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oldhousejunkie
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Re: Title Confusion

Post by oldhousejunkie » August 12th, 2011, 8:48 am

I think I like just "Brookfield" since it is a pivotal part of Julienne's story. But I don't if it would grab me if I was perusing the bookstore.

Oh how I want to go with "Brookfield Betrayal"...even though it's cheesy as h*ll! It reminds me of my first novel (written when I was 12) which was entitled "Secrets in Savannah." Ahhh....for the easy days!

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airball
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Re: Title Confusion

Post by airball » August 12th, 2011, 10:45 am

Hi Old House,

I'm actually going through this right now. My editor wants to name my book The Midwife's Tale: A Mystery, largely because the fact that my protagonist is a midwife is my book's hook. (Yes, you will be able to read it on a nook.)

This gives me pause because there are two books out there with the same title - one was a history book that won the Pulitzer(!) and the other was an Oprah book. But he seems pretty sure this won't be a problem - and it could be a boost to sales when people looking for the other books buy mine as well. We'll hash it out with the marketing people once the launch date approaches. I guess my point is that someone will change the title eventually, so don't sweat it too much.

As for the title you market it with, I wouldn't worry about it too much either. It is entirely possible that the agents you approach are not big SF readers, so they may not know about the other book. More importantly, they know that titles are tentative, so unless yous really stinks (which it does not) it won't stop them from reading the rest of your proposal. And that's where you'll make it or break it.

Good luck!
Sam Thomas
Author of The Midwife's Story: A Mystery due out from St. Martin's Press in 2013
Website: http://www.samthomasbooks.com
Team Blog= http://bloodygoodread.blogspot.com

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polymath
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Re: Title Confusion

Post by polymath » August 12th, 2011, 12:24 pm

Fairly good query pitch and summary, oldhousejunkie. There's stakes and conflict and complication. The personal stakes are outstanding. I think a little rethinking the public stakes might help you over the title hurdle. Julienne's a Confederate spy, falls for one of her captors, a British Northern ally--though Britain sided with the South during the War of Northern Aggression. The noose tightens and Julienne flees to France, who was neutral somewhat. Traveling abroad In Britain, Julienne discovers she's unexpectedly expecting.

Also consider omitting the time adverbs, while, when, and after, for stronger punch, voice, closing narrative distance-wise.

Seems we have a starcrossed lovers saga here. Seems to me then the final outcome might be Julienne's coming back into contact with her lover and husband Alexander. A bit of public stakes conflicting that encounter might heighten tensions. What's the complication Julienne seeks to resolve regarding her espionage activities that's at stake for the South? Averting defeat is out, not credible since the outcome of the war is widely known. Perhaps Julienne knows a secret that could put someone else in jeopardy or at hazard of loss or enrich personal fortunes. Maybe something larger, like post war plans the North has for the South with regard to Reconstruction, which was intended to be a process of reconciliation but greedy, power mongering nefarious doings spoiled that.

Let's see, Julienne, thinly sliced vegetables, razor's edge stuff, sublime; Alexander the Great, conqueror of empires and all that, and a child of promise and peril for reunification. There's a theme that might go to the title.
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oldhousejunkie
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Re: Title Confusion

Post by oldhousejunkie » August 12th, 2011, 3:49 pm

Thanks for the compliment, Polymath. Coming from you, it's pretty huge. :-)

Although forgive me, but I must correct you about the British siding with the South. They did initially, allowing a Confederate ambassador into the country to plead the Cause. The Trent Affair, of course, drew more sympathy for the Confederacy. But in the end, they were never formally recognized although a British shipyard was building war vessels for the South. Britain basically tolerated the Confederacy, so "sided with" is a slight over statement as doing so would have put England at war with the US. It's one of those tricky situations--Britain's population was essentially anti-slavery by this point so many personally sided with US, while many had interests wrapped up in the South, thus it behooved them to not burn their bridges so to speak.

Now for the issue of public stakes. There not any. This has caused me to pause on multiple occasions. Julienne's priorities shift to restoring the family horse farm while she is in England, and so she spends time purchasing and training horses to be sent back to Kentucky. Her aide in this is another man, whom she eventually becomes involved with. So Alex is not a happy camper when he eventually finds out. The second half of the novel revolves around this development. The ending is Julienne returning to Kentucky after the war, with the man of her choice, with hopes of putting the past behind her. It's definitely an emotionally driven novel. Which has made it h*ll to encapsulate into a query!

polymath wrote:Fairly good query pitch and summary, oldhousejunkie. There's stakes and conflict and complication. The personal stakes are outstanding. I think a little rethinking the public stakes might help you over the title hurdle. Julienne's a Confederate spy, falls for one of her captors, a British Northern ally--though Britain sided with the South during the War of Northern Aggression. The noose tightens and Julienne flees to France, who was neutral somewhat. Traveling abroad In Britain, Julienne discovers she's unexpectedly expecting.

Also consider omitting the time adverbs, while, when, and after, for stronger punch, voice, closing narrative distance-wise.

Seems we have a starcrossed lovers saga here. Seems to me then the final outcome might be Julienne's coming back into contact with her lover and husband Alexander. A bit of public stakes conflicting that encounter might heighten tensions. What's the complication Julienne seeks to resolve regarding her espionage activities that's at stake for the South? Averting defeat is out, not credible since the outcome of the war is widely known. Perhaps Julienne knows a secret that could put someone else in jeopardy or at hazard of loss or enrich personal fortunes. Maybe something larger, like post war plans the North has for the South with regard to Reconstruction, which was intended to be a process of reconciliation but greedy, power mongering nefarious doings spoiled that.

Let's see, Julienne, thinly sliced vegetables, razor's edge stuff, sublime; Alexander the Great, conqueror of empires and all that, and a child of promise and peril for reunification. There's a theme that might go to the title.

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