Indie April: Guest Post by Karl Fields, author of Instant Preplay

Instant PreplayToday's Indie April authors is Karl Fields, author of Instant Preplay (review here) and The Odd Job Squad (review here) and J. Meyers, author of Intangible (review here)

Karl has written you guys out a guest post on coming up with the book title, which is awesomely informative and very witty.

In Name Only

One of my favorite parts about writing is deciding on a name. It’s a very good thing then that I’m indie, because as a traditionally published writer, you may have some input regarding the title, but unless you’re a heavy hitter, the publisher gets the final say. Seriously, imagine on the first day of school, when the teacher is taking attendance. As she gets to your son’s name, she stops abruptly. “Christopher? Well, that simply won’t do. From now on, you’ll be…‘Oliver.’” Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

As a writer, I’m a total plotter, except when it comes to titles. For me, they tend to come from nowhere at the most random times. With my first book, The Odd Job Squad, I came up with the title very shortly after the idea for the story itself. The story changed massively during the revision process, but the title never did.

On the other hand, my current book’s working title was Time Shifting, which refers to recording a program on your DVR and watching it later (the story is about a boy who discovers his DVR records shows before they air). I didn’t love it, but since I was still in the first draft phase, I didn’t worry too much about it. Much later – I can’t remember the exact moment or what I was doing – the name Instant Preplay hit me. I thought it over, decided I liked it and that was that.

I’m a fan of titles that use word play or turns of phrases. For instance, I recently came across a book about a 12-year-old girl who, after being struck by lightning realizes she has the ability to talk to dead people. The title? Small Medium at Large. And I love Eats, Shoots & Leaves, a book on punctuation that’s a must if you do any sort of writing.

And as long as I’m addressing writers, here are a couple practical notes on titles:

* Copyrights. Generally speaking, you can’t copyright titles, however trademarks are another matter. You can’t trademark a “single creative work,” but you can trademark a series. So while you’re free to name your book “Twilight” (and several people in addition to Ms. Meyer have), calling your book “Harry Potter & The Great Witch Hunt” or “LOL Cats For Dummies” is going to get you sued. Fast.
* Google is your friend. While there are no legal hurdles preventing you from slapping “Twilight” on your book, for obvious, practical reasons, you might want to avoid doing so. Same with inadvertently using a name that was the title of an evil, terrorist dictator’s manifesto, which a simple search can help you prevent. While you’re at it, Google your characters’ names, too. Yours truly very nearly named one after an, ahem, adult film star. I’m just sayin’.

Thanks Karl, I find it funny that you nearly named a character after an adult star, what was it, Kandy Kane or something!? I think that naming a book is one of the hardest things for me, my work in (very slow) progress has no title yet, I've been thinking about it for a year!

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