Thursday, October 14, 2010

Titillating Titles

A few years before I was first published I was standing in line at Starbucks reading Jennifer Weiner's Good in Bed. I have always felt that reading in public is kind of like being plugged into your iPod at a gym---they’re both international symbols for “don’t talk to me.” 

And as is the case with the iPod, it is a symbol that many choose to ignore.

Thus I wasn’t all that surprised when the guy in line behind me tried to start-up a flirtatious conversation.  I answered his questions politely but made a point of not looking up from my book. That’s when he asked the question. “What are you reading?”

Good in Bed,” I said before realizing that this was not a wise answer to give. I closed the book hoping the cover would somehow explain away the title but the woman’s legs peeking out from beneath the bed sheets didn’t help a lot. “It’s actually not about being good in bed. It’s about a plus sized woman coming to terms with…” I continued to ramble on idiotically thus inadvertently starting up the very conversation I had been so eager to avoid. I had been working on my first manuscript for about six months at that point and still hadn't given it a title. I swore to myself that if I ever got it published I would not do to my readers what Jennifer Weiner had just done to me.

By the time my manuscript was being pushed onto the desks of editors it was titled Words To Die By.  I was fortunate enough to sell that manuscript as part of a three book deal to what was then Red Dress Ink (and is now Mira).  When my new editor called to introduce herself she was effusive.  She started by telling me that she loved my characters, she found my mystery to be suspenseful and engaging and she adored the way my book was “funny without being slapstick.” She then paused and said in a pleasant but extremely firm voice “The title has to change. It doesn’t tell the reader anything about the book.”

I wasn’t offended. In fact I felt her willingness to criticize added validity to her compliments. So I happily agreed to come up with something new. I played around with a few ideas—Dying For A Cup of Coffee, sprang to mind as did City Parking Can Be Murder but it was my mother who ended up coming to my rescue.

“You’re protagonist wrote a book called Sex, Drugs And Murder so why don’t you play off that and title your book Sex, Murder And A Frappuccino?”

I submitted the idea to my editor and while she really liked it she suggested that it be changed to Sex, Murder And A Double Latte due to copyright considerations. She ran it by marketing and they were thrilled. My book was officially christened.  Shortly thereafter the concept for the cover art was described to me. "It's an illustration of a woman wearing a mini skirt," I was told. "She's standing with her legs spread apart and in between her legs are the words, Kyra Davis, and the title." 

Yes, really. Fortunately the description was more sensational than the reality. Turns out my name was placed between my protagonist's knees rather than her thighs.

.Sex, Murder and a Double LatteA few months after that was all sorted out I was standing in line at the very same Starbucks I had read Good In Bed in. A man got in line behind me and tried to pick me up (apparently this was like the Studio 54 of Starbucks). I didn’t have a book to hide behind (not that it helped me a lot the last time) so when the little old man in front of me asked for the time I used his question as an excuse to start up a conversation with him thus avoiding the man behind me.

The elderly gentleman’s name turned out to be Henry and in no time at all I had told him I was a soon-to-be-published writer. Upon hearing this Henry called over his wife, a sliver haired lady who had been scoping out the lowfat scones, and introduced her to his new friend, “Kyra, the author.”

“You’re an author? How wonderful! What’s the title of your book?”

“The title? Why, were you planning on buying it? Because it won’t be in the stores for a really long time.”

“So we’ll look for it when it does come out. You simply must tell us the title, dear.”

There was just no out. “Sex, Murder And A Double Latte.”

“Oh,” the woman looked to her husband and then back to me uncertainly. “Well…I like lattes.”

“Yes,” her husband chimed in enthusiastically, “and I like sex!”

See, that’s what I get for bad mouthing Jennifer’s title.

--Fashionista Fatale
AKA: Kyra Davis (this new alias is going to take some getting used to for me)


Christie Craig said...

I love it, Kyra, the title and the post.

Love your sense of humor, too. Thanks for a great laugh. And welcome to Killer Fiction!!! We are so lucky to have you join our family.


Unknown said...

Oh yes, I liked "Good in Bed" too. But when my mom asked what I was reading, I felt like I had to add, "but it's not porn or anything!"

krisgils33 said...

a hilarious blog. thanks for sharing!

Laurel Bradley said...

What a hilarious blog. Okay, you sold me. Except, I may choose to get it for my Kindle. Then I can lie when someone asks me what I'm reading. Kindle.

Terri Osburn said...

I have GOOD IN BED on my TBR shelves. Must move that up. And look for yours, it sounds fun. (I checked your website this morning.)

I love the new additions to Killer Fiction. More fun all around!

Gemma Halliday said...

Welcome, Kyra!!! So glad to have you here.

When I first saw your book cover, I totally loved it. The title, the pink, the premise. Of course, it made me want a latte... but I loved it! ;)


kyradavis said...

Thank you all for the warm welcome!

@Laurel: Yes, Kindle allows for plausible deniability ; )

Diane Kelly said...

The working title of book #2 in my Death and Taxes series is called "Death, Taxes, and a Skinny No-Whip Latte." Can't go wrong with a good title and some good coffee, huh?

Dru said...

Welcome Kyra!

This was a good laugh. Thanks!