Saturday, April 23, 2011

T is for...

Title.

It took me over a month to pick a title for my YA Fantasy novel, and I'm still not entirely sure it's the right one. It did help when I decided I wanted to do one-word titles, paired with the series name. I was using dictionaries to look up words I'd come up with and emailing myself lists of titles so I could wait a few days and come back to the list to see if anything caught my fancy.

Of all the things I thought would be hard, the title sure wasn't one of them. If you think about it, though, the title is usually going to be one of the first things people see, and it has to be something that will catch the reader's attention. In other words, the title is vital to the success of your book.

Part of my title-choosing process also involved having Amazon up so that when I'd think of a title, I could search to be sure it didn't already exist. Nobody wants their book mixed up with someone else's! Especially as I'm concerned about how common my name is: Shannon Lawrence. Go to Ireland and tell me how many people you can find by that name! Probably a lot. I doubt it's terribly uncommon in the U.S. either. Though I must say that a search on Amazon didn't turn up even one, so that's a relief, anyway. When I plug in my name I get Shannon Cochrane, Martin Lawrence and Molly Shannon, so it runs the gamut. As long as no other Shannon Lawrence beats me to the punch, I'm good to go. But is it a name people will remember? That's the question. I just went totally off the subject, BUT, if you think about it, my name is my title, so I'm still okay.

T is also for...

Typewriter.

Ah, I miss typewriters. I loved the sound it made when I'd hit keys. I used to insist on doing my writing on a typewriter, even well into the computer era, but I typed too fast, and my thoughts ran even faster, so I'd get locked up keys.

While I was in this phase, though, my wonderful husband went and found me this awesome old Underwood typewriter. I've since sold it off, because it wasn't at all usable, but having that typewriter sitting there when I wrote was encouragement in itself sometimes. The problem? It smelled. And not a good smell. I finally had to find someone else who would love it and not mind the smell.

In middle school, I was still using a typewriter for my English papers. Despite the fact that my dad was a computer geek by profession, we didn't have a computer in our house until long after everyone else. The reasons for this, I imagine, are that 1. We couldn't afford it and 2. To this day, my father rarely uses the computer at home. Perhaps that's his way of not bringing work home with him. At least he was always able to get me floppy disks for school!

T is also for...

Twitter.

I'm not on it yet, but I think I probably should be, right? I don't understand what an author puts on Twitter of any interest. And I don't really want a personal Twitter account. I prefer to not let people know what I'm doing every hour of the day. I'm weird like that. However, I realize that's not what most people are doing, or I hope that's the case. Do you put stuff on it like what you put as a Facebook status? I rarely do that anymore, either.

Now that I'm volunteering with the Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District to do their online stuff, I'll have the opportunity to check out Twitter without having a personal account to start with, because even they have a Twitter feed. No kidding!

I guess I never realized how antiquated and behind the times I was. It's not that I'm not technicaly savvy, because I'm a good trouble shooter and I pick things up quickly. I'm a private person, and I also try to spend less time on the computer. I found that I became attached to the computer once I quit to be a stay-at-home mom, and while it helped me through that initial adjustment period, I need to work on spending less time on the computer, not more! But for each of these things I add (Facebook, blog, an online forum I admin, etc.), it means more of a time commitment that involves me sitting on my butt at the computer.

So the question is, is Twitter really worth it for getting your name out there? Is it really that big a plus for an author to have a Twitter feed? I just learned about hash tags the other day, and it sounds like there are some good writing discussions you can get in on if you have the hash tags for it. That may be another reason I allow myself to make a Twitter account, but the jury's still out just yet. I felt that way about Facebook, and originally MySpace. Given, I haven't signed in to my MySpace account in probably over a year. Whoops! My point being, though, that I didn't want to have accounts there, but finally gave in, so I imagine I will wander on over to Twitter one of these days. Sigh.

I have a lot of questions today for discussion: Do your titles come easily to you? How do you know when you've found the right one? Do you ever miss typewriters or are you delighted they're gone? Do you have a Twitter account? Have you figured out how to use it to your advantage yet? What the heck to authors tweet about on a daily basis??

Happy Writing!

13 comments:

  1. I also spend ages over titles, and I also do the Amazon search too! I'm lucky to have a mega unusual name however.
    I love typewriters too; that's where my writing career began. LOVE the smell of them and the satisfying 'ding' when you reach the end of the line.
    Twitter is awesome. Not only to get your name out there, but also to follow useful people for excellent advice, support and entertainment!

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  2. Using twitter has alerted me to all sorts of opportunities locally and further afield. Have had book sales from it and venues to sell me books.

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  3. I'm still avoiding twitter. I just don't need another thing, right now. I can hardly keep up with what I have.

    Titles vary for me. Sometimes, the title comes first and the story flows from it, so those are easy. I do have a project I'm working on, right now, though, that has no title other than the character's name. I just can't think of anything that fits. But maybe once I'm farther in one will become clear.

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  4. havnt gotten to into twitter. But I think I might have an account. LOL

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  5. I have a hard time with titles. They usually come out of song lyrics that remind me of the story. Or a friend comes up with something brilliant.

    I just joined Twitter a while ago. I didn't think I'd like it very much but it's kind of fun. There are some very clever people out there.

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  6. I'm nostalgic about typewriters, but very happy we have computers! :-)

    I like Twitter, apart from the 'I'm having coffee with a croissant' type tweets. Then again, sometimes they can serve as a reminder when you've skipped breakfast ;-)

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  7. my title of my fantasy novel wasn't that hard once i thought about it. but when i plug it in, a book with "Eldala" in the title comes up.

    i loved learning to type and can still remember the manual typewriter i learned on. i'm so glad to have had my laptop for writing novels.

    i still haven't twittered and am putting it off as long as i can. facebook already takes up too much of my time.

    nice to meet a fellow fantasy writer.

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  8. Titles are always so hard for me. Every once in a while I have a title immediately, but most of the time, I don't name the book until I'm finished writing it (or halfway through it).

    I used a typewriter when I was eleven/twelve, before we got a computer. It was such a pain to use, though--I had a typewriter that had a white out strip, but it was annoying having to go back and use the white out--not nearly as fast as hitting the 'backspace' button a computer. ;) I honestly preferred writing by hand over using the typewriter.

    Twitter: a little difficult to navigate in the beginning, when you're first diving into it, but I think it's so worth it. I found a lot of the blogs I'm following through Twitter. I've learned about other authors, contests, interesting blog posts, and other things on there. Writers talk about all sorts of things: random bits about themselves or their books, links to blog posts, etc.--but you don't want to overdo that. Twitter is a great place to connect with other writers, help them promote their stuff, learn more about other people, have conversations, share information, and a bunch of other things.

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  9. I think choosing a title is really hard too! It took me a looong time to title the first novel I wrote, so I decided to have a title for the next one before I started just so I have something and won't be in agony naming it at the end! I am not super active on twitter, but I see the value in it. My twitter feed is full of people who have similar interests (books and writing) It's great to follow discussions and click on links in which I'm interested in almost everything that comes through my feed. I feel like that's pretty cool.

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  10. you have a lot of great T words here. :P i think the title of the piece is easy to come up with once we finish writing the book.:)maybe its because we have a better idea of what our story is really about.
    nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  11. I have a temporary title in my head at the minute, but I'm not sure it feels right so I'm sure I will panic about it when it comes time to start querying.

    Twitter - I love it. I have met so many great writers out there through twitter. It's worth checking out, but bear in mind, it takes time to get into it and find out how really useful it is. You need to build up a follower/following count and then interact. Once up and running, it's great.

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  12. I agonize over titles as well. Any I get are pure inspiration. Sitting down to think one up... never happens.

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  13. Angeline, glad I'm not the only one who checks Amazon. I was wondering if it made me weird. I also love the ding, and even the sound as the carriage moves back.

    Carole, that's very encouraging. I'm going to have join sooner, rather than later.

    Andrew, it's overwhelming, how much we're supposed to keep up with, isn't it? I've actually had stories where I had a title first and the story was inspired by that. Not a novel, though.

    Aurora, that's about where I am at MySpace, at this point. I'm pretty sure I still have an account there...but I haven't signed in in more than a year, I think.

    M.J., song lyrics would make for good titles. I was amused by Kim Harrison's titles being sort of bastardized versions of Clint Eastwood movies.

    K.C., good point. I'm definitely glad we have computers. It's not even so much the writing on a typewriter that would be hellacious, but the editing?! Oh man.

    Michelle, I'm loving meeting other writers on here! It's nice to meet you. I still remember all the typewriters I had. Well, there were only three, with each one getting progressively more intricate.

    Laura, I was thinking fondly of hand writing today when I was working on a short story with pencil and paper. I got that smudge of gray from the pencil on my right pinkie and that part of my palm, and I remembered always having ink or graphite on my hand when I hand wrote everything first and typed it up later. Of course, that also makes me grateful they switched from lead to graphite!

    Melissa, I will likely have a title first for the next project (sequel). I did have a working title for this one, but I realized I didn't like it as an actual title for publication. It was great for keeping track of it during that time, though!

    Nutschell, that's what I was betting on, but this one proved a little trickier. Normally, with short stories, it really isn't that hard picking a title. I don't know why this should be trickier. Hrm.

    Rebecca, that's about what my "working title" was in the beginning. Thank you for the Twitter advice!

    Patricia, true, true. I think that's how my short story ones have worked in the past-they just popped into my head. Maybe my problem with this was that I've been trying too hard.

    All, great information on Twitter! You've convinced me. Perhaps I'll start one up in the next few days. Seeing what I've been able to discover via this blog, I imagine there is plenty more to discover via Twitter. As long as I don't spend too much time on there. ;-p

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