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Author Topic: Will a new title change a story's success? Or the genre?  (Read 6332 times)

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« on: March 04, 2016, 12:31:53 PM »

I actually began my book about 8 years ago and took nearly 6 years to complete it.  As much as I tried to utilize a more popular and acceptable genre than Action/Adventure (which unfortunately describes my book to a "T"), I sent out numerous queries to nearly all of the agents that say they accept A/A genre.  It was my first book and (this is important) was based on my lengthy but unfruitful endeavor in the mother-of-all get-rich-quick scheme of intermediary trading. 

For those of you not familiar with this "business", it involves finding someone who has something to sell, and matching him/her with another someone who wants to buy it.  As the party that brings these two together, you ask for a menial finder's fee.  Simple, no?  The lure and attraction comes in the quantity and scarcity of whatever this "something" is.  For instance, a monthly contract for 200,000 tons of wheat, sugar, or soybeans to a third world nation, a tanker filled with 400,000 barrels of crude oil, or a Revolving Letter of Credit for fifty million dollars.  You get the idea.  That menial finder's fee grows sequentially with zero's to a point of taking over your life.  However, finding a real someone who actually has that special something, and also finding a real someone who actually has the capacity to make the purchase (a pocketful of dineros) is virtually impossible.

But I digress.

In the process of selling and buying, the person who works directly for the real someone(s) (see paragraph above) is called the Mandate - either the Seller's Mandate or the Buyer's Mandate.  My story is about a down-on-his-luck normal guy who witnesses a murder, becomes the primary suspect, and, as a means to find the real murderer, takes the place of an actual Mandate.

I titled my book "The Mandate". Clever.

No one knew what I was talking about.  Everyone (well, everyone who only read the title and skimmed until they saw Action/Adventure) thought it was a non-fiction socio-political that was being misdirected through fault of misunderstood genre.  And according to Amazon, they place it smack in the middle of homosexual erotica. Come on. I may be dumb, but I'm not totally stupid.

My query letter was revised and revised and revised, and actually wasn't bad.  But, alas, no takers.  Obviously my book wasn't perfect. (*Personal Gripe - I sometimes believe that all agents are only looking for already perfect manuscripts, ready for press and distribution - ones that don't require any development or rewrites.  Hence, the incredible number of rejections.)

I digress.  Again.  Sorry.

So I changed the title to "Au".  It's about hidden WWII gold.  Seems to fit the genre.  And it would make a fantastic movie. (Like E.T.  Think of the marketing and merchandising bonanza!)

My question is this - Will changing the title make it more commercially viable?  And is anyone having any success writing Action/Adventure stories or is that genre completely filled with existing male authors already on the shelves?  MaybeI should flip my mind to and action-packed combination of YA, Sci-Fi, and Paranormal?

Thanks for the opportunity.  I will now vacate my soapbox.  Have a wonderful day.
Missus Braidyhead
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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2016, 01:01:53 PM »

While I think titles are important to a certain extent, I OFTEN see them change from the writer's initial title--sometimes multiple times--before publication. And sometimes they change back and forth. A friend queried with title A, then her agent changed it to title B. The publisher changed it to title C, then title D, and then back to title C again.

Which is a long way of saying, no. I don't think the title is going to change your book's chances of getting an agent or editor.

As far as changing the genre, do you mean you want to rewrite your book as a different genre? Because you could change what you call it (thriller maybe?), but that's not necessarily going to change the genre--it is what it is, right?

The most important things, in my opinion, are to have a well-written query, and the best first pages possible.

I'm not sure if I answered your question, but I hope this is helpful in some way.
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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2016, 01:42:59 PM »

I write adventure myself, but I've taken advantage of the big loophole: It's historical adventure. Straight-up adventure is dead and has been for a long time, something I bemoan constantly. Still though, the only way for it to make a comeback is if someone writes it.

The trouble with The Mandate is that, even if the reader knows it's adventure, the way more common meaning is "something that someone feels a strong personal obligation to do," like "the mob shot his brother and now he has a mandate to get revenge" or "she lost her job for trying to expose corporate misdeeds and now she has a mandate to take them down." So that title more suggests a Grishamy protagonist with a strong motivation, which is fine but could describe practically any book. But then again, I bet there are people who don't know that Au is gold, either.

But yes, the advantage you get from a better title is extremely slim (the main benefit, it seems, is that you'll no longer be annoyed that no one gets your reference). As far as agents go, query and pages are everything.

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