Thursday, September 29, 2011

Need Advice on a Title for My Second Book

For a long time, the working title of my second book was "Conversion Theory." The current title is "Little Misery." But the idea of having Misery in the title is an easy setup for a bad review.

I envision this: "January Gill O'Neil is back with a miserable book called "Little Misery." Imagine! Ugh, that is my biggest fear. (For those who don't know, the long poem in the m'script is called "Misery Islands," about two islands off the coast of Salem, MA, called Great Misery and Little Misery.)

But the title I do come back to is "Tether," which is the name of a poem in the last section. Carl Phillips has a very fine book called The Tether , which won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. But a friend of mine looks at it this way:

"From treading water, walking from Great Misery to Little Misery to the realization that being tethered to loved ones (your children) is keeping things whole (letting you shape the clay on the wheel after you expunge all the air). Maybe consider 'Tether' or 'This Kind of Tether.'"

So, is it bad form to name a poetry collection with the same title as someone else's collection?

Would love to have your feedback ! Thanks. 

14 comments:

Nin Andrews said...

I like both titles. I guess that's not very helpful. But Little Misery has a kind of wistfulness to it. I don't know. Tether, yes, it's nice. I am sure you won't get bad reviews, either way. I know, not helpful.

Donna Vorreyer said...

Having not even one full-length manuscript to my name (yet, I hope), I feel ill-qualified to give you advice. However, as a reader, Little Misery is so much more appealing to me than The Tether. I would definitely pick up that title in the bookstore over the others...

mariegauthier said...

Unless your title references vomit or other excreta, I wouldn't worry about reviews. I happen to love Little Misery, but Misery Islands isn't bad either.

But I also don't think it's nec. bad if two books share the same title -- much worse to share the same art work, I think -- although it can be confusing to potential buyers. I think a variation would be wiser if you go in that direction. Still, most people look for books by author, so it's probably not a big deal.

The larger imperative is to find the title that speaks to you, that you feel best captures the essence of your book, without regard to market concerns. In the end, the title only becomes a big issue when it's clearly bad!

January said...

Good advice, Marie. Thanks. And my artwork will probably be a photo or something created by a graphic designer.

Here's hoping my book won't make people vomit. :)

January said...

Donna, that's great feedback. You are more than qualified to share your opinion. I appreciate it.

January said...

Nin, that helps. Thanks. At least I'm on the right track.

Dana said...

I like (OK, I love) Little Misery.

Alexander said...

Great post – I’m going to Tweet about your blog.

January said...

Thanks Alexander.

January said...

Thanks, Dana.

I should mention that a big portion of the collection is about divorce.

Jennifer Jean said...

(so far) i really like "Little Misery" because it's powerful like a thorn working its way out of a heart--it makes me think about dimension/scope. does this make sense? and, as a concept, it can be developed rather well i think with the right cover graphic and the right font. it'll all come down to the right cover with this title...

January said...

Cool. Thanks Jennifer.

I hope to go out to the islands and snap a few photos for the cover. Good advice.

Carol said...

I like Misery Islands. Speaks, to my mind, of both people in the divorce. Can't wait to read it, January.



p.s. word verification: perfers. Yep.

rdl said...

like Misery Islands better than little misery; or Tethered

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