Ask A Wench – Wenches on Writing

The Wenches were asked to answer some questions about writing and the publishing industry, and today we’re replying to the first one – How do you decide on a title? Is it the editor or you or what?

OnceASoldier FinalMary Jo:  Titles wars, all authors know them well! Ideally, authors and editors work together to come up with titles that in just a few words will convey the genre, the essence of the story, and also have a marketing punch. Not surprisingly, this is difficult! 

In my first book, my heroine was a gifted musician so my working title was the rather uninspired THE MUSICAL LADY. Later, my brother-in-law, an amateur musician, suggested LADY OF NOTE, which was better since it conveyed both music and being notable.

The book sold quickly on a partial manuscript, but coming up with a good title was another matter. My first editor always insisted that her writers come up with good titles. We would produce pages of possibilities, which she would dismiss with a few heartless chuckles. When I'd say in exasperation that she should come up with a title, she had a whole prepared speech about HOW MANY BOOKS she'd edited over the years, how could she possible do any more???  Cowed, I'd slink off and produce more lists, which were all shot down posthaste.

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How Stories Come to Life

3 assistantsAndrea here, breathing a happy sigh. It’s always a good feeling to finish a manuscript, fiddle and fret over the last little revisions, and then draw a deep breath and press SEND to my editor. The story is a new Wrexford & Sloane mystery, which is slated to publish in September of 2022. (Publishing schedules gets very disorienting for authors . . . my head is still percolating with the plots of this one, but as I gear up to begin promo for my upcoming September release, I have to return to a previous murder investigation . . .)

So, am I putting my feet and having my editorial assistants bring me melon by the pool? (I wish . . . but they’ve informed me that they are taking a summer vacation, leaving me to fend for myself.) The truth is, I already have snippets of ideas dancing around in my head for the next book . . .This is the time when I collect all those shiny little baubles—a place, a person, a “MacGuffin” that I think would be fun to weave into a plot—and put them in a folder. (That’s the easy part! When I get to the middle of the next manuscript, I’m usually gnashing my teeth and asking “Why did I ever think this was a good idea?”)

Merton 1But I’m digressing . . .

One of the baubles for my next manuscript is Oxford University’s Merton College, in which I set a scene in the book that I just sent off. Sometimes history is such fun in that it gives an author a perfect plot scenarios from real life. I won’t talk too much about the specifics, since the book won’t be out for over a year, but there was a wonderful gathering of foreign monarchs and dignitaries in Oxford for several days, which allowed for some very fun skullduggery to take place at the actual events that happened within university—especially in Merton College.

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