Today I finally stopped messing around (clearing my desk, catching up on household chores, dealing with emails, fetching logs, photographing sunsets), and got out the file of my novel Border Line, worked over the first chapters and made another submission. I nearly failed to jump the last fence as I feel the title needs changing after the shift I made in my last major revision. Then I decided I was rearranging the deck chairs, and pressed the Send button. The title needs to be right, but if the text is good enough it is unlikely to be the rejecting factor.
Looking for a new title took me on a very pleasurable, though off piste, journey through my poetry shelves as I followed the lead from Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, through Graves and Donne and back to Rehearsal (by Eleanor Green), which had been one of the original stimuli for the novel. I still have not found the title, but here are the first four lines of Eleanor’s poem and the reason why actor’s exercises became central to the story of Border Line.
for an exercise
I look at his hands
to improve our relationship
Finding titles can be tricky. I know that mine come to me as I get deeper into the novel. Good luck in your submission.
Thanks. I feel the novel has changed focus over the revisions and what worked is no longer quite right. Still, I have a bad habit of changing the protagonist’s names at a very late stage, so my instinct may be unreliable.
Did you ever send your submission to Timothy Hely Hutchinson? He is a big publisher now, with great expertise in getting a book up-front. The problem with self publishing is that ‘selling’ the book is hard if one is not good at self promoting. I would be hopeless at that. Tim came to Australia on many occasions and we knew him through a good friend and I also stayed with him in Sheppard Bush, London. It was many years ago.
Um…no. He is the top of a pyramid on which I am, approximately, a dust-mite. You do have friends in high places, Gerald. I have published with a small publisher and self-published and I am hopeless at self-marketing, which is why I am still trying to get an agent and enter mainstream publishing. Authors are ten-a-penny in the UK and short of being already well-know, young/glamourous, or a close friend of a publisher, nothing – except brilliant writing – will even get you through the first set of swing doors. I have some happy readers, but brilliant writing…? I fear not.
With heart pounding loudly, she pressed the submit button. Good luck Hilary. –Curt
Thanks. These days my heart only pounds for these kind of replies: “If you are still looking for an agent we would be very happy to read the whole thing…(exclusively if possible).” and they are usually followed by: “BORDER LINE isn’t something for us. Please do see this as a sign of how few new clients we take on rather than a reflection on your writing. I do hope you find a good, enthusiastic home for it swiftly and thank you very much for letting us consider it.”
I am good at enthusiasm and hope.
Sigh… still better than an outright rejection, Hilary. –Curt
Best of luck!
Thanks, I am heartened by the support.
I cannot know if Border Line is a good reflection of your book’s content, but it is short and so an excellent title for making its mark on a thumbnail – which is necessary these days. If you feel so inclined you could post a synopsis and perhaps get some other possible titles from readers of this blog. Crowd-titling?
Hmm, interesting idea. Way back I did a light-hearted experiment along those lines in my workplace, handing out the blurb and a choice of titles to be rated. Apart from two or three titles that bombed, there was no clear winner and plenty of people really disliked the ones that plenty of others liked best! I concluded that there were too many random factors in the study. In the end I chose a completely different title (Unseen Unsung) for that book. But… I am chewing over the idea. Thanks.
Well done Hilary for pressing the button – what a scary thought. I like Border Line too and I think your first instincts are probably right – although it’s hard when you get so close to the work.
There was a dramatised mini series on Don Bradman here in Australia called Bodyline and that did very well. (but perhaps I shouldn’t make references to cricket just at the moment … :>)
Oh the cricket shame… but I don’t think I can add that to my current concerns. You might well be right, both Bodyline and Border Line have a comfortable on-the-tongue, familiar feel to them. My novel deals with people at the cliff-edge of a personal decision and physically travelling across a country to a final border, so it ought to be perfect. Thanks.
I wish you lots of luck with your submission. And I hope you find the title that feels just right for you novel.
Titles and headlines are my forte, though THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A BLACK SOUTHERN DOCTOR defeats my assertion.