By Any Other Name

Rose “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, II, ii).

I got to thinking about names after reading this post by Alec Nevala-Lee on the importance of titles and what makes a title marketable. He also mentioned that he always does a Google search of any title he’s thinking of using to see what else shares it before committing to it. This idea surprised me. Not because it is such a brilliant idea (although, of course, it is), but because I didn’t think of it myself.

As I’m imagining the characters in my fiction, I do a lot of voodoo to get them to come alive and real in my mind. I search for images of people who remind me of the character and save them in my character files (along with notes like, “her hair is darker than this picture, and her nose has been broken several times”). I read up on the connotations associated with any name I’m considering. And I always Google every name to make sure it’s not the wicked witch on a soap opera I haven’t seen or the CEO of an animal cracker manufacturing company. But when the name of my current work in progress came to me, it was exactly right, and for some reason I never thought to check it until I read that post.

Oops.

There are at least four different books in print right now by different authors that already carry my chosen title. They are all romance novels, which mine absolutely is not. I looked at some close variants and found the same thing.

So now what? I’m 2/3 of the way through my draft, on track to finish the complete draft this month, and I’m writing it with that title in the center of my mind. I even designed a cover, not because I’m any kind of cover designer or think that my design would ever be used, but because, like the character images, it helps me see the book as a real thing. Now, do I need to see it as a different thing?

For now, I need to just keep going with the draft in progress. That’s not going to be derailed. Finding a new name will be one part of the revision process. Some of the terminology would probably need to change if the title does, and this sounds like a revision thing.

In the meantime, I’m a bit in mourning for my wonderful name. Alas. poor title, I knew ye well.

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