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  • rosiejanewalker

Questions for a debut author

Book titles and covers

When I first signed my book deal and started telling people the great news, there were two questions many people asked, and the answers are surprising.

“What’s the title of your book?”

Unexpectedly, the answer for at least three months after signing my One More Chapter / Harper Collins contract was ‘I don’t actually know’. My novel had a title when I submitted it to literary agents, and the same title when my agent submitted it to editors at publishing companies.

‘The Quiet Ones’ was fine, but it was subtle: it referred to a tiny snippet of dialogue somewhere in the book, and it implied something about two of the main protagonists without giving too much away. My Mum loved it, which is very important, of course! When she told her friends that ‘The Quiet Ones’ would be published, she reported back that many went online to look for it (thank you) and were confused when they couldn’t find it to buy straight away. (Another thing I learned: publishing moves very slowly).

But the author doesn’t always choose their own title, even if they’re in love with the one they invented right at the beginning of it all, sometimes even before the first words go onto the page.

Although the author knows their story better than anyone, publishers and agents know their industry and their readers better than anyone. And the writer needs to stay in their lane.

So when my editor got in touch earlier this week to say that the team at One More Chapter had chosen a title and they’d unanimously agreed on it, I was really excited to hear what it was and why. Publishing companies know what people are searching for online, and they know what their readers will buy. The title is a good one, chosen by the people who know the market best, and I am really excited to reveal it when the time is right.

Which brings me to the next question I got asked a lot:

“Do you get to pick your book cover?”

The short answer to this is “no”. As with titles, the publisher understands their market and what cover attracts their target readers to pick up a book. The writer doesn’t.

Typical approaches vary from publisher to publisher, but often the writer is shown a completed design, and they get to say ‘Yes’. If they really, really hate it, maybe they can say ‘No’, or at least explain what aspects of the design they hate and request a revision to take that into account.

The most important question is “does this cover represent the story I told?”

Once I sign off the title, the next phase is cover design. So that phase of my novel’s journey is happening right now and it’s so exciting. I can’t wait to see what the designer comes up with, and I’ve seen her other work: she’s an amazing designer with a huge range of different covers in her portfolio, from all types of genre. Even more exciting is that you will recognise some of them as the iconic covers of modern hits that it’s likely you’ve seen on shelves.

My novel is in excellent hands, and I will share both title and cover with you all as soon as I can!

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