Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A title has been chosen.... THE LONG WAY HOME by Karen McQuestion

I have a new novel coming out May 1st. It's the story of four women, total strangers at the start of the book, who wind up going on a road trip together.

The entire time I was writing the book, I called it "The Road Trip." That was the name of the Word doc., that's what I called it when I discussed it with family members. As far as I was concerned, that was the title.

In December, I let my editor at Amazon know I had finished another novel. He read it and said he loved it. We did our usual back and forth with the contract, and then discussed various other publishing details. In one of our phone conversations he said, "So how attached are you to the title?"

Me: You don't like my title?

Smart Editor: It's not that I don't like it. It's just that it's a little generic.

Generic? Like store-brand green beans? No. I wasn't seeing it. I loved the title. Not only was it easy to remember, but it also said what it was, much like The Help, or any of Nicholas Sparks' books (The Notebook, The Guardian, The Wedding, The Choice etc.).

It turns out that no one at Amazon Publishing was all that crazy about The Road Trip as a title. One of the women in the office, upon hearing it, assumed it would be a comedy like the movie, The Hangover, which it definitely is not. The book is humorous in parts, but it's not crazy madcap fun. I didn't want to use a title that was misleading.

Smart Editor: I have an idea for a title. It's a line from the book. What do you think of 'The Possibility of Flying'?

Me: Hmmm...

I wasn't crazy about his suggestion. I thought it sounded too literary for my type of novel. Plus, I didn't remember it being a line from the book (turns out, it is).

Finally, some brilliant marketing person devised a plan. If I was on board, they'd have me come up with four possible titles, then post them on the Kindle Facebook page and let people vote on their favorite. Let the readers decide! I thought it was a great idea. I came up with four suggestions, including mine and Smart Editor's. At the beginning of the month they posted the promotion on the FB page. It looked like this:

What would you name Karen McQuestion's upcoming novel? Take a look at the book summary below and then tell us which title you like best... or come up with one of your own. However you vote, we can't wait to hear from you!

Cast your vote by posting your favorite title in the comments:

1. The Road Trip

2. The Possibility of Flying

3. The Long Way Home

4. Arriving at Destination

5. [Other: ______________ ]


Marnie is just thirty-five when her boyfriend, Brian, drops dead of a sudden heart attack in the house they've shared for nearly a decade. Though stunned by his death, Marnie feels the greatest grief for Troy, Brian's son whom she has raised and loved as her own since he was just four years old. After Brian's death, Troy is reclaimed by his train-wreck of a birth mother, who whisks him far away from Marnie.

Desperate for solace, Marnie ventures to a grief group at the local rec center. There, she finds unexpected allies, three strangers who join her on an impulsive road trip from Wisconsin to Las Vegas to reconnect with Troy.

Along for the ride are fifty-something Rita, prim and ladylike on the outside, seething with rage on the inside over the murder of her daughter; Laverne, Marnie’s introverted landlady who is crippled by grief for her late husband; and Jazzy, a beautiful young psychic driven to the grief group by an unseen voice.

Together the women embark on what will become the adventure of their lives, a journey toward reconciliation and healing.

777 votes later, the people had spoken with The Long Way Home being the clear leader. None of the other three titles came close, which was an eye-opener for me.  A lot of people came up with their own ideas, incorporating words like heart, grief, and journey. One commenter suggested Recalculating, which made me laugh. Many of the suggestions were outstanding, making me think title selection should be open to the public more often.

Thanks to everyone who voted. It was fun to read all the comments and I'm feeling a lot better about the new title knowing so many people liked it.

Because Amazon is quick and efficient, the page for the book has already been created, although there's no cover displayed just yet. If you're interested, you can see it here: The Long Way Home  

I was amused to see that someone had clicked the "Like" button on both the paperback and Kindle page of the novel . Since very few people have read it yet, I think I have an idea of who that could be.

Thanks, Mom!

When I get the final cover image, I'll post it here. Hopefully it won't be too generic or look too literary.


Tim McGregor said...

Now that is a cool insight to the reality of putting out a book. Finding the right title is a killer and a glimpse behind the curtain is always entertaining/educational.

Isn't there a Beatles tune called the "Long Way Home"? Extra points for that.


Karen McQuestion said...

Hi Tim! I'm not sure if there's a Beatles tune by that name, but I do know there's a song by Supertramp called "Take the Long Way Home." Either way, it has a familiar sound to it.

PV Lundqvist said...

Titles are hard.

Should they be unique? Or familiar (sounding)? Descriptive, or a hook?

Genre expectations too. I can see how the Road Trip could strike someone as a comedy and throw off expectations.

I like Long Way Home. Focuses the reader on the plot and a feeling (who can't feel about the word 'home?')

Karen McQuestion said...

PV--I agree that the word 'home' has positive connotations for most people. As Dorothy says, "There's no place like home..."

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

I like it. PV is spot on about focusing the readers on the plot and feeling of the novel.

Exciting! Can't wait to read it.

Karen McQuestion said...

Thanks, Karen--so kind of you to say. I'm hoping the book is well received. You never know.

Rex Kusler said...

That's a good title. I definitely like that one best. The song Tim is thinking of is "The Long and Winding Road " which is a ballad written by Paul McCartney. One of my favorites.

Jon Olson said...

Well, I'll live. I liked The Road Trip, although I can see the problem of making it sound like a car full of beer-soaked post-adolescent guys looking for trouble. The new one makes me think of The Long Goodbye, but Smart Editors know best, one assumes.

Jon Olson
The Petoskey Stone
The Ride Home

Karen McQuestion said...

Rex--good recall coming up with the Beatles song title! I like that one too.

Jon, maybe my next book can be about a car full of beer-soaked post-adolescent guys looking for trouble and I can use THE ROAD TRIP as a title for that one. Unless you want to, and then it's all yours.

Jon Olson said...

Let's make it a race. Having been beer-soaked at least once, and having reached post-post-adolescence, as an experienced road-tripper, and as a certified, FDA-inspected guy, I may I have a headstart.

On an unrelated note, you really have to hand it to Supertramp -- a decades long career on, what, three musical ideas?

Now I've said too much.

The Ride Home

Leta Worthington said...

Very helpful. I'm a newbie and just got my first book up on Kindle last night (soon to be in print on Amazon). ...and am struggling with a title for my book in progress. Hmmmm, I will have to find out if the Kindle poll on Facebook is available to anyone.

Karen McQuestion said...

Hi Leta! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I enjoyed reading hearing from you.

Bill B said...

Soundin' good, Karen! I think the voting set-up was the right way to go - a good idea from the brilliant marketing person. And I've gotta say, I probably would've voted for The Long Way Home. So ... before long you'll be receiving a box full o' newly printed books?

Bill B said...

Sorry, I have to leave another comment. The one I just left was #13, and I suffer from triskaidekaphobia (compounded from being a math major). *Please ignore this* Thank You

Karen McQuestion said...

Triskaidekaphobia--hey, I learned a new word! Thanks, Bill. Now that I think of it, I realized I have triskaidekaphobia as well. It might not be an actual phobia with me, maybe more of an avoidance? I also am very uncomfortable with the number 666 for obvious reasons. Even now, I didn't like typing it.

If the rest of my day doesn't go well, I'll know what to blame.

Christina said...

Christina - - Hi Karen - don't forget to send me a copy to review! I'm so eager to see it! To me, The Long Way Home connotes wanting to get back home (not as much focus on the trip itself, as The Road Trip seems to say. And not everyone would respond to it as a possible comedy - I didn't!). Also, besides the McCartney song The Long And Winding Road, there IS a Supertramp song called Take The Long Way Home (I can hear it in my head), a bit lighter-sounding than the McCartney one. Glad to find out you'll be publishing again soon!

Karen McQuestion said...

Hi Christina, it's good to hear from you! You're already on my list of people to email when I get my advanced copies. If the offer still stands, I'll gladly send a book your way!

Pale Rambler said...

Excellent title. And, yes, much less generic. I was thinking of going the John Wayne route of naming things (such as in Big Jake when he called his dog "Dog"), but I'm not sure people would buy a book titled "Book."


Karen McQuestion said...

Mark, I'll buy your book no matter what it's called! Keep us posted.

Christina said...

Christina - - Hi Karen - it's an ALWAYS standing offer! I love your work!

Brenda ND said...

THE LONG WAY HOME gets my vote too. :)

Karen McQuestion said...

Well, Christina, now you've started something! Thank you~

Brenda, I agree. I think THE LONG WAY HOME is the perfect title.

Karen McQuestion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.