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  • Writer's pictureEren Simpson

What's in a name?

As a reporter, you know you only have the first 25 words of your lede (the first paragraph) to grab the attention of your reader, but I always forget this when I'm working on a book, because you don't even get 25 words - you get a title.

You have two lines - one sentence, to grab the attention of a publisher, agent, editor, reader, and even if you've written a masterpiece, if your title stinks, you're going to lose a lot of readers. I'm guilty of this as a consumer - I judge books by their cover all the time, which has caused me to pass over books over and over again before finally giving in and falling in love with a book despite it's title or poor cover choice.

But as a writer I still struggle to figure out the science of a good title. For a while there, every book on the marketplace was "the girl who ...." anything with 'girl' in it was deemed a success or was at least a big seller thanks to actual successes like Gone Girl, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc. I feel like we're over that a little bit, but I still see it crop up from time to time.

I've got two books I'm trying to pitch right now/decide if I'm going to self publish. One, I'm confident in its title because I don't think any other title would capture the feel of the book. The other - my non-fiction book on Postpartum Mood Disorders is a different beast because I don't want to turn away people who need the book, I want people to know what it's about at first glance, but I want it to be marketable and grab and hold people's attention.

After going back and forth since starting that manuscript, I finally figured out my title and I feel pretty good about it.

This is AFTER I got my first rejection for this book from a publisher I had started to question ... but I'll get into questionable publishers on another post.

My old title was "You are Not Alone: A Mother's Guide to Postpartum Mood Disorders; what they are, how they're diagnosed and what to do with all the scary thoughts." That's long AF and I don't know what I was thinking - probably just that this is an important topic and I really want there to be a book out there to help mothers and families deal with these illnesses, and I wanted people to know what they're getting, but from a marketing and consumer standpoint, I know it's just too damn long.

So after a lot of reflection and one rejection, my new working title is "Good Moms Have Bad Days: Understanding Postpartum Mood Disorders" .... it's short(er) and to the point and hopefully leaves enough out to make people at least pick up the book to read the book description.

All of this is to say that writing is one big, long experiment and there's a lot that goes into finally having a book that's marketable and ready to publish. I've been working toward my goal of being a published author since 2006 (and I do have several books available on Amazon now)- or arguably since 6th grade when I submitted my first short story to a writing contest - and I've still got a lot to learn. But there's nothing wrong with 'failing' as long as you learn from it and keep going!

So keep going, friends! Happy Sunday.

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