Sunday, October 14, 2007

An Author's Work Is Never Done...Misconceptions and a New Website

Last week I learned the team at Midnight Ink decided to change the name of my first Kiki Lowenstein book. They proposed Paper, Scissors, Dead.

I took all of two seconds to decide…WOW!!! I love it!

The new title is much, much better than the old one was. This title positions the book perfectly because it’s more fun—and Kiki is all about fun. Plus, the new title makes it instantly clear the book is a mystery. I think Barbara Moore, my acquiring editor, was a little concerned about my reaction. But honestly, she shouldn’t have been. I’m thrilled. (And since Simon & Schuster changed the title of my first book, Using Stories and Humor: Grab Your Audience, the action didn’t come as a big surprise. I was aware that title changes are part of the marketing process.)

My author friends have fallen totally in love with Paper, Scissors, Dead. One said, “Boy, I’m impressed. The people at Midnight Ink really know what they’re doing.” Yeah, they do.

I’m sure my scrapbooking friends will love the new title, too.

But a few of my “civilian” friends were stunned. “You mean you don’t pick the title?”

The fact most authors don’t choose their book titles is one of the biggest misconceptions folks have about our work. I found myself thinking about other mistaken notions. Here’s a list of common misconceptions:

1. Authors pick their own titles.
2. Authors choose what goes on their covers.
3. You have to know somebody to get your book published.
4. All you need is an agent, and your book will get published.
5. Once your book is published, everyone will want to buy it.
6. The publisher will set up signings and send you on a book tour.
7. Getting your book published will make you rich and famous.
8. Authors sit around and write all day long.
9. You must have blocks of uninterrupted time to write a book.
10. Any fool can write a book, the hard part is coming up with a great idea.

I’m curious, how many of these have you heard? Do you have any to add to my list?

PS--Regarding #8. I've been spending a lot of time working on my new website. Please take a look and tell me what you think: The original art above is part of the website.


Candy Calvert said...

Joanna--I love the new title AND your gorgeous, artsy (what else could we expect?!) website. Kudos on both!

And here's one for your author misconception list:

Authors get all their books for free, and have plenty to give away to relatives, friends, neighbors--and even casual acquaintances. Just ask for a copy! ;-)

Joe Moore said...

Joanna, nice post. I really like the new title, and your website looks great.

Here's a misconception to add to your list: All writers know how to spell.

Felicia Donovan said...

Joanna, love the artistic feel of the website. Congratulations and much success on PAPER, SCISSORS, DEAD. Great title.

Here's another author misconception to add to the list: Once an author is published, they can quit their day job.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

I'm laughing! Okay, folks, I'll update my list. I'm giving a talk to my son's Creative Writing class, so perhaps I can weave the misconceptions into part of the "lecture." I'm also having the kids help me plot a book. (How's that for sharing the workload?)

Glad you like the new website. The art originally appeared in a newspaper article featuring cozies and mentioning me. I bought it because I loved it. Then I gave it to the designer along with the scrapbooking technique seen behind my name: words and "randomly" pasted together to form a message. She took it from there. I would have NEVER thought of those colors, but I loved the final result. Also, if you check out the links, such as the "tips for writers" link in the Resource section, you'll go to blogs. I figured I could update blogs faster than I could get my web guru to make changes.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Oh, now I thought of another misconception: Proofreaders and editors take care of all of an author's grammar and punctuation problems. All the author has to do is turn in stuff--and the editorial staff will "fix" it.

Keith Raffel said...

Misconception: "I loved your book. When is the movie coming out?"

Congrats on all Joanna.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Love the new title! And the new website!

Candy took my favorite misconception about free books and Felicia sounded off about my second choice, so here's another to add to the list:

Authors are exactly like their main protagonists.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...


If the person asking is married to a Hollywood producer, that's a GOOD question.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Sue Ann,

You mean we aren't exactly like our main protagonists?

That means my husband isn't cheating on me?

Good news.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Nope, and I'm not involved with a hottie 10 years my junior (sniff).

Candy Calvert said...

And my hubby doesn't have "golden chest hairs" like my hero does (despite ALL the times our neighbor women have asked him that, for godsake!) ;-)

G.M. Malliet said...

Very cool-looking web site, Joanna!

The free copy thing I have also experienced, because of my involvement in a short story anthology. I was floored that people imagined I had hundreds of copies to hand out. It is almost as if readers think we keep a printing press in our basements.

G.M. Malliet said...

p.s. To end on a more positive note, I was touched by the friends who special-ordered the book, at considerable cost to themselves, when they couldn't find it on the bookshelves.

(A computer snafu that we couldn't get fixed had the anthology marked as non-returnable, which it was. Long story.)

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