By John Gilstrap
So there I was on Tuesday—election day—giving a presentation to about a hundred people as part of my big-boy job when my cell phone buzzed. A casual glance at the caller I.D. revealed a 212 area code. New York City. The source of some of my life’s most exciting calls—and some of the most disappointing. But you can’t very well answer the phone in mid-speech, can you?
Maybe a minute later, the phone buzzed a second time, and I knew that the caller had left a message. Twenty minutes to go.
Applause. Questions. Finally, the phone. The message was from my editor. “We have a major problem with GRAVE SECRETS,” she said, referring to the book that comes out next June. “Call me.”
So much for another of life’s most exciting calls.
“We can’t use GRAVE SECRETS for a title,” she told me. “The name Grave—” It’s a reference to my protagonist, Jonathan Grave; it has nothing vaults for the dead. “—makes every cover concept we come up with look like a horror novel.”
So all we have to do is change my baby’s name. No problem. Yeah, I’d been living with GRAVE SECRETS as a title for a couple of years, and yeah, I’d planned a franchise of similar titles for the series, but that kind of attachment is all emotional. It should be easy to overcome. Publishing is all business, after all, and nowhere do market concerns play a bigger role than with the title.
So change it already.
Hey, I stitched 120,000 words together to write the damn thing in the first place; how tough can it be to stitch two or three more to get a title?
But we need a title! It’s almost time to go to press with the advance readers copies. C’mon! Two or three lousy words!
I’ve got long lists of two-word phrases, but none that really work as a title.
I can do this.