Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What's in a name?

By Any Other Name

An author friend of mine has recently had a hard blow dealt her. A prominent romance author has just released a book with her next book’s title. What does she do? How important is it to be unique?

Deadly Legacy started off as just Legacy. Not only were there other books by that title, but one of them was being released by my publisher. No surprise to me. Catherine Astolfo, author of Legacy (An Emily Taylor Mystery) and I bonded over our mutual title. Recently, I checked and found over 2,000 results on the name legacy - which would have included both Cathy's and my books.

You want to stand apart, but doing it on name alone ain’t gonna happen.

I grew up never knowing another Alison, let alone another Alison Bruce. Now I can think of half a dozen without trying. Thanks to social media, a few of us have been mistaken for each other and, as a result, reached out and connected. There’s an Alison Bruce who is a journalist and writing teacher in Toronto, another who is a librarian in Scotland, and a student in California. That doesn’t even include the Australian actress and American physicist who I haven’t communicated with yet.

Then there’s Alison Bruce, author of the DC Goodhew novels. We crossed paths when someone contacted me about her agent. It was particularly confusing because I had also contacted that agency and hadn’t heard back from them. We started exchanging emails and discovered that we both live within 18 km of Cambridge (England for her, Ontario for me), have two kids, and write mysteries.

I am sure that at least a few people in the UK have checked out Deadly Legacy because they thought it might be a book in her series. I know that several people in Canada and the US have checked out her books because they thought I was the author. 

I’ve got the email queries to prove it.

“Did you know...?”

“Yes I did,” I’d answer and share the story of how we “met”.

What’s in a name? Maybe a few more book sales. Definitely a few new friends.



10 comments:

  1. What's in a name - I am laughing, Alison! As you know, I got the shock of my life when I went on Chapters.ca to see my new book The Goddaughter up for preorder...and found four books next to it with Goddaughter in the title that - shall we say - make break all records for porn?
    Do you think I'll get a few more book sales because of it?

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  2. Why not? As the saying goes (more or less): "When life hands you lemons" an author writes a handbook on marketing lemonade.

    (Or A Tale of Two Citrus.)

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  3. Nice post, Alison. It's great that you've connected with some of the people who share your name. I share mine with a soca singer (don't ask me what that is exactly) and a soccer player--both male. I'm still in a strange place with this title business and haven't decided what to do. I went back and read big name author's blurb. Heroine's names are also the same. Argh!

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    1. OMG! Same heroine name too? This is either a case of great minds thinking alike or you're being stalked.

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  4. Good attitude, Alison, about what is clearly a common problem for us authors. I ran into it when I published my novella, White Witch. There are a bunch of books, either with the same title or with white witch as part of their title. It was upsetting at first, but I've gotten used to the situation. At least my book usually comes up on the first page when I do a search for that title.

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    1. I read somewhere that English is one of the richest languages for vocabulary. It's all those words we've adopted over the centuries. Can you imagine the trouble we'd have if we had fewer words to use?

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  5. Yep, I saw a bunch of White Witches when I was looking for Lyn's book. But I got the right one!

    There's a Jacquie Rogers who runs the convention center in Liverpool, another who plays soccor in Australia, and another just 500 miles from here who writes bad checks. We found out about the latter when we were financing our new house six years ago. Needless to say, I was not amused.

    As for titles, I think it's important that the title reflects the book, but most genres have sort of title formula. If you see "M is for Murder," you know exactly what sort of book you're going to get. Because of that, invariably there will be multiple books with the same title.

    But good grief, the same names for the hero and heroine??? That's just too much!

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    1. I have another friend with the same name issue but... well, that's her story to tell. One of the books is just out: A Purse to Die For. (http://www.amazon.com/A-Purse-Die-For-ebook/dp/B008IKA022) No worries about the title... this time.

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  6. Just a quick update, Alison. After much unproductive stewing, I've decided to keep my title AND my heroine's name. I had a long talk with an old friend who's had great success in publishing romance and she got royally ticked off when I told her the situation. Basically, she said, "That's your title, dammit! You've had it for years. Don't you dare change a thing!" Sooo... After a lot of vacillating, I'm keeping MY title and apologies to Jodi Thomas. By the time I get mine published, she'll probably have a new book out anyway. :/

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    1. I'm glad you've made a choice you're comfortable with. That's half the battle in life, isn't it?

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