As a new novelist, I expected some people to love my book, and braced myself for the fact that some people might just hate it. What I never anticipated was the reaction I would get to the title.
I’ll admit, as titles go, Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side is kind of long, and a little strange, but when I first came up with it, the words sounded right to me. They summed up what I hoped was a romantic, sometimes dark, and sometimes funny novel about an average girl who learns that she’s promised in marriage to vampire prince. A girl who receives an actual “guide” to becoming a vampire, herself.
I was so wedded to the title that when my manuscript sold, my contract specified that the publisher couldn’t change it without my agreement.
Of course, this eventually happened.
Just before Jessica’s Guide was headed to print, I got a call asking me to brainstorm possible new titles.
I swear, I tried hard.
I played around with Lucius’s name, with vampire-related words, and with things like “betrothed.” But nothing seemed to sum up the mix of light and dark that lies at the heart of the novel, and ultimately, everybody decided that Jessica’s Guide – or JGTDOTDS as some Internet reviewers have “acronym-ized” it – would keep its name.
Was this a good idea?
Well, some readers have suggested that the title didn’t prepare them for the emotional intensity of the story. They read the cover and mistakenly thought, “frothy.”
However, others have written to say they plucked Jessica’s Guide from the shelves just because the title intrigued them. They had to see what it was all about.
As for me... the title still seems right.Maybe when you create something, and name it, and live with that name for over a year, it’s just too hard to rechristen it, any more than I could suddenly rename my children. Something of who we are is embodied in our names, which is why, although I’ve been married for about a dozen years to a Kaszuba, I’ll always be Beth Fantaskey, the name I grew up with, and which I also chose to put on the cover of a book with an equally quirky name.
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