Thursday, 7 June 2012

Something old, something new

'Something Old, Something New' - as soon as I'd written the title for this blog post, I thought what a good title it'd make for a story. Why can't I think of snappy titles like that when I need one?!

I'll explain the Something New first.  Thanks to fellow short story writer Susan Wright, who shared the news of her own success with the new short story website I recently submitted four of my own stories, which have all been accepted and are due to go live on the site from 20 June.
Alfiedog is a pay-to-download site featuring only short stories - they're very reasonably priced and I think it's a brilliant idea - it's about time there was a dedicated site where we could go to buy short stories. Please do visit the site and take a look - you'll see some writers' names you recognise! My four stories are all previously unpublished, so remember to pop back after 20 June too, to pick up an original read!  I'll be submitting more ...

Something Old?  It's my 'Tales from a Hen Weekend' book (written under the Olivia name) - which was first published in 2007 - and since I published it as a Kindle edition on Amazon, it's out-sold all my others on there. (Five original Sheila Norton books plus one new one, and one other Olivia Ryan book). Now, I'm thrilled of course that it's doing well, but I've been wondering what it is that makes one book sell better than the others - and I've decided it must be the title. Titles are what attract us to a book first, after all, even more so than the cover, I think - especially with Kindle books where there's just a small image rather than a proper cover.  The 'Hen Weekend' in the title of this book tells you exactly what you're getting (although one reviewer from the USA mentioned that they're not called hen weekends over there - they're 'bachelorette parties' apparently. I prefer 'hen weekends'!).

Which brings me back to my original point - how to come up with a good title? When one of my Sheila Norton books, 'Sweet Nothings', was published, I didn't particularly like the title. I'd wanted to call it 'Penny's Passion Pudding' because it's the story of a woman who accidentally becomes famous for her pudding, which people believe is an aphrodisiac! But my publisher didn't like that, saying the word 'pudding' is stodgy and not suitable for a title. In self-publishing the book as a Kindle edition last year, I toyed with the idea of changing the title. But past experience has taught me it's a bad idea.

The American publisher who bought two of my earlier books published them both under different titles from the UK editions. It wasn't made clear on Amazon that they were the same books, and one disgruntled reader who'd bought the US edition, believing it to be a new Sheila Norton book, gave it a one-star review because she was cross that she'd wasted her money. (I wish she'd just returned it to Amazon!). A one-star review really hurts an author's overall rating average, and although I was fairly philosophical about it, it has taught me the dangers of changing a title!

We just need to come up with good ones in the first place! So ... 'Something Old, Something New.'
I feel a short story coming on ...


  1. What an interesting post, Olivia It just goes to show that it doesn't matter how much time you spend writing the book it's the title that need just as much thought as well. I'm so glad Kindle is working well for you.

  2. Titles are so important, aren't they? The trick is to find the right one - not easy.
    'Something old, Something new.' sounds good, Olivia. I'll watch out for that one.

  3. Congrats Olivia. Titles are important. For me, especially with short stories, it sparks my interest to want to read that story. :-)

  4. Thank you Paula. Yes, the Kindle option has changed publishing completely - for authors as well as readers.

    Rena, I haven't yet written the story with that title - but I'm going to!

    And thanks Diane ... I agree, and sadly a title can do the opposite too: put me right off even starting to read!

  5. Interesting post, Olivia. And I agree. Titles are extremely important (Tractors in the Ukraine etc, Salmon Fishing etc). And as for your story title, I'd love it please, if you don't use it!

    Ps Please could you consider getting rid or your word verification? It is getting really difficult. This is my second attempt at a reply to your post!

  6. Thanks Frances. I was thinking about the titles you mention, today when I gave up on my book club's book for this month - 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog'. The title attracted me and intrigued me, but did I enjoy the book? No, I found it pretentious and uninteresting! So we have to bear in mind, too, that whatever we promise with the title, we have to deliver!!

    As I've said in my personal reply to you, I had no idea I had a word verification and as I hate them myself, will now attempt to get rid of it! So sorry. I'm not up to scratch with Blogger's technology!