Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Query Contest Advice Part I, aka The Importance of Titles

Last week I finished the query contest. *phew* Thanks to everyone for the wonderful praise and all that patience while I worked through technology issues and responded.

I requested 37 manuscripts!

I also gave out a lot of individualized advice in my replies. Some of my responses were as basic as "this just isn't for me" or "I don't represent this genre." There were times when I was confused by worldbuilding or when I didn't know what the book was about, but there were also instances where I saw some very easily fixable problems affecting a lot of people.

Here's a big one that surprised me.

THE IMPORTANCE OF TITLES

Answering this many queries in a row really emphasized this for me.

I read queries, where I saw a title and thought "That sounds so exciting!" which is the response you want. Obviously an exciting title and a not great query won't equal a request, but there were also queries I got, and the title was either a word I didn't understand, couldn't pronounce, or worse! sounded QUIET.

Your title should reflect the tone of your book. If you're writing a thriller, you don't want something long and poetic. And if you're writing something quiet and literary, you want a title that emphasizes your literary prowess.

While it's true that titles can change at a later stage in the publication process (and often do), it's really important for you to use what you have. And you have essentially a page to convince someone who doesn't know your story it's worth taking a look. So the title matters.

Even more so, when I send a requested manuscript to my kindle, the document and the title is how it's listed. So on the train, when I open up the kindle and try to decide what to read, all I've got to go on is titles. While I do really try to go in order there have been times when a title sticks out in my mind and draws my eye constantly. You want your manuscript to be the one calling to me, not something that looks confusing or even just bland.

13 comments:

Rain Laaman said...

Yup. This is something I need to think about. Thanks so much for the contest!

Abigail Johnson said...

Thanks again, Suzie. This was an invaluable experience for me. I'll definitely be giving my title choice serious consideration too :)

Rachel Pudelek said...

I have read so many times how the title doesn't matter because it'll be changed anyway. But I really don't like my title. I have combed books in the same genre on Amazon, made a list of titles, etc. and still can't settle on one that fits. Any tips?

Yvonne Osborne said...

I missed this one. Hope you do it again.

Elaine AM Smith said...

Congratulations on your move and the new challenges.
This was an amazing opportunity.
Not sure how I missed it. I only concentrated on my wip for a week.

Jack LaBloom said...

I struggled with my title, especially when my neighbor, Leon suggested I use MURDER AND MAYHAM as the title of my romantic legal thriller.

Leon didn't finish school, but not wanting to hurt his feelings, I went with it.

Thanks, an informative post.

Abby Annis said...

Thanks so much for doing this contest, Suzie! Your feedback has been so helpful. Plus, you said you'd thought you'd read it before and only one other agent has read any version of it. So I think I may have figured out your secret identity. Don't worry. I know how to keep a secret. ;)

@Rachel Pudelek There's a great post here from Rachelle Gardner on coming up with a title for your story.

DD3123 said...

never got a reply and spam folder is clear :(

Sabine Berlin said...

Thanks for the reminder. Titles are always so hard for me. Thanks for the contest as well.

Sophie Morgan said...

Completely agree...and now thinking that maybe it's a good thing that my title begins with an 'A' - better chance of it drawing your eye ;0)

Martha Ramirez said...

This was such an awesome opportunity. Thank you again, Suzie!

Cozy in Texas said...

I've heard that two word titles are the ones that are eye catching.
Ann

Margo Kelly said...

37 manuscripts!! HOLY HANNAH! Happy reading time! :)

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Five Random Things About Suzie

1. I drink so much orange soda, it's probably running through my veins. I've been known to go through a twelve pack of diet sunkist in a day.

2. I'm legitimately nocturnal (or a vampire). I will be so exhausted at two pm that I'm falling asleep standing up - it has happened before, at Six Flags no less - but as soon as the sun goes down I'm wide awake.

3. I have a gorgeous unused $6000 Reem Acra wedding dress hanging in my closet, and it showed up on my doorstep the same day my (now ex) fiance broke up with me. And thank God for that. I wouldn't have wanted to waste that dress on him.

4. Social anxiety plagues me daily. I write a script and practice in front of the mirror when I have to make a phone call, but most people who interact with me have no idea how nervous I am (or perhaps they lie) because I've worked so hard to try to overcome it.

5. I'm actually worried that I will never love my children (when I do have them in the far off future) as much as I love my dogs. I just like animals better than people - they're sweet and innocent and soft and furry - is that so wrong?