Most of you know that my current project is finishing off the second book in my new “Artemis Awakening” series. You also have probably noticed that I keep referring to the book as AA2, rather than by a specific title. This is because my editor, Claire Eddy, and I are still discussing possible approaches to titles for books in this series.
A little background for those of you who haven’t been following this project from its earliest permutations. When I proposed the series to Tor, “Artemis Awakening” was the series title. The first novel in the series was going to be called Huntress. However, a strange thing happened the longer I worked on the book. I found myself referring to the book not as Huntress, but as “Artemis Awakening.” I decided my subconscious was trying to tell me something. I e-mailed Claire and suggested that we retitle the book with the series title – but keep “Artemis Awakening” as the series title as well.
Claire was very receptive to this. After all, many series end up being called by the title of the first book in the series, even if there’s an official series title. A good example of this is Game of Thrones. The series title is actually “A Song of Ice and Fire,” but even before the popular TV series came out, you’d hear people talking about the new “Game of Thrones” book, not the new “A Song of Ice and Fire” book.
(Aside: I wandered on about titles, my own and others, back in the WW of 7-10-13. Also, if you’d like a glimpse of the original proposal for the series, I included it in the Wandering for 8-22-13.)
Anyhow, once we settled on Artemis Awakening for the title of the first book, I began to think of the next book in the series as Artemis Invaded. However, Claire wasn’t sure this was a good idea: “My only concern is that the sales folks might want something slightly different to make it clear to the reader that they don’t already own the book.”
Claire has a point. Publishing enterprises are made up of various “tribes.” Authors see books differently than do editors. The views of authors and editors can vary radically from those of people involved in marketing and publicity. These can all vary yet again from those held by the people in production.
However, while I could see Claire’s point, I really wasn’t sure. I’ve had some bad experiences when a title in a series varied too widely from that of other books in the series. Here are two examples.
Back when I was with Avon, my novel Changer was released. It remains a strong seller to this day. (I know because I reprinted it as an e-book and POD, so I see the sales figures.) It has a devoted following. However, someone at Avon decided my suggested title for the sequel – Changer’s Daughter – wouldn’t do. (I was never told why.) Eventually, the novel came out titled Legends Walking. To this day I have people say “What! There was a sequel to Changer? Where can I get it?” (Which is why I reissued Legends Walking as Changer’s Daughter, with a note that this is, except for an all original introduction, the same story as Legends Walking.)
I had a similar experience with the third “wolf book” at Tor. I had no idea what to give it as a title so I put “The Dragon of Despair” on the manuscript as a working title. I fully expected to change it to something with ”Wolf” in the title. However, someone in marketing at Tor said: “Keep it! Titles with ‘dragon’ sell.” (This despite the fact that Tor had at least one other book with “dragon” in the title coming out about the same time…) Anyhow, I had a similar experience with The Dragon of Despair. “New book! Great! But when are you doing another Firekeeper book?” Happily, Julie Bell’s fantastic cover art tied the book to the previous ones in the series, so there wasn’t quite the same level of confusion.
A good example of using titles to tie a series together is used for David Weber’s “Honor Harrington” series. The first novel was called On Basilisk Station. Weber and Jim Baen decided that alternate titles (starting with number two, so no one could miss this was a sequel) would have “Honor” in the title. I seriously think this has helped. Moreover, from the start, “Honor Harrington” has been prominent on the cover, so that there would be no confusion as to whether The Short Victorious War and Field of Dishonor belonged to the same series.
Another series that used repeating title motifs well was Robert Lynn Asprin’s “Myth” books: Another Fine Myth, Myth Conceptions, Myth Directions, and others. Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” novels almost all had “Foundation” in the title. I’m sure we can all think of other such examples.
True, neither these nor the Honor Harrington books repeat the title’s structure, only a key word. Even so, I’d like some sort of continuity between the titles of the books in the “Artemis Awakening” series. I want people to be able to “find” the books by ear and eye, something that I think is becoming more and more important as shopping is done on-line and cover art is often reduced to an image the size of a postage stamp. We can’t count on people going into a book store and looking at the cover and saying “Ooh… There’s a girl and a wolf. That’s that series I like.”
So, what are your feelings about titles within a series? Does it help to have something to clue you in that this is the next book in series in which you’re interested or do you find yourself scratching your head in confusion and saying “Haven’t I already read this?”
Please weigh in! The title of the second book in the series could be influenced by your reply!