Here’s the thing…..for several months I’ve been referring to my new novel by a title. It wasn’t a brilliant title – intriguing, clever, achingly memorable – but it was pertinent, had a useful double meaning and I was getting used to it. The novel is about a continuing family saga, and part of the action takes place in a nuclear plant where there’s a fire and radioactive contamination of the area. All the detail about the nuclear reactor fire is real by the way, and makes a very suspenseful story. My chosen title is – or was – ‘Fallout’. Get it?
So far so good. The manuscript is with the editor; the book designer and I have been discussing the new cover, which has not been started yet. BUT today I hear via Twitter that another novel with exactly the same title is due out on May 1st, and is already visible on Google. No nuclear connection in this one, but it’s a resonant name for a dysfunctional group or relationship, and I’m sure it fits this other novel perfectly well.
Now what do I do? There’s no copyright on titles, so I don’t have to change mine, but do I want my novel to come out with the same title in the same month? The title of my first novel ‘A Good Liar’ was only a prefix away from other book titles, but they had been published years before. This feels different.
I’ve been jotting down alternative titles all afternoon, realising as I do so ‘what’s in a name’. Now the editor and the book designer and I – and you too if you wish to join in – are playing around with the possibilities, with a fairly imminent deadline. If we have to change, I hope it doesn’t cause confusion among my potential readership, and we can come up with something so magical that more readers are inspired to pick it up, and then also read the two previous books in the trilogy (‘A Good Liar’ and ‘Forgiven’) just to get the full flavour of my heroine Jessie Whelan’s courage, flaws and fierce protection of her independence. By the way, if you’re thinking of suggesting a title, Jessie does find love, even if she’s not sure what to do with it. When a decision is finally made, you’ll be the first to know.