Friday, April 15, 2011

M - The Man-Tail and Me

Have you ever wondered about the original titles of the books you read and how it could have effected whether or not you read them in the first place?

Like ‘Twilight’ originally being called ‘Forks’.   Do you think a book with the name ‘Forks’ would’ve gotten 1.  As many readers  2.  All the hype?

Titles matter.  A lot.  Which is why I’m debating mine.
My YA urban fantasy is entitled ‘Fossegrim’.  But I’m beginning to think this title  doesn’t reflect the humor or lightness in the story.  Here’s the blurb for those who haven’t read it:

Teen delinquent Sage Reynolds has been looking forward to his eighteenth birthday ever since he was dropped into ‘the system’.   Now, just six months from freedom, his foster parents are sending him away to military school after one (okay, maybe two) run-ins with the law.  Sage was pretty sure he’d covered all his bases in the ‘screwed department’.

But that was before he woke up on the bottom of the ocean with a freaking fish tail.

In this 75,000 word YA urban fantasy, Sage deals with the realities of turning ‘Fossegrim’- a mermaid race living off an enchanted island in the North Sea.  Truth is, Sage never asked to sprout a man-tail and shoot through the waves like a Disney character on snort.  He’d do anything to get his old imperfect life back.  His one shot at turning human again lies with the Fossegrim who threw the changing stone down that transformed him.  Problem is- no one has heard from her in seventy years and there’s a chance she’s being held by the Fossegrim’s ancient enemies, the Fiskari -- an underground organization of Norse fishermen who capture and use Fossegrim for monetary gain.  If Sage can manage to avoid capture, find the girl, and convince her to go back to the ocean, he might be able to reclaim his humanity.  If not, he’ll be spending the rest of his life as a sushi-eating Fossefreak.

So I’m letting my readers be the judge.  What do YOU think?  Is ‘The Man-Tail and Me’ a convincing title or a confusing one?? If you saw a book with the title ‘Fossegrim’ (press #1)or ‘The Man-Tail and Me’ (press #2) which would you be more likely to pick up?  …Or do both titles blow chowder? (press #3)

Have a great weekend everyone!

*CQG*

48 comments:

Sarah said...

I love the title "Fossegrim", but I agree it doesn't really seem humorous. However, um, the whole Man-Tail thing doesn't really work for me. I kind of like "Fossefreak", but I'm thinking that's also dead in the water. I so sympathize with your title woes--I've been asked to retitle one of my mss, and I am at a total loss. I can't wait to see what you come up with, though, because your query is hilarious!

Laura Pauling said...

considering I have no clue what a fossegrim is I probably wouldn't pick it up unless I'd heard of it. I like the Man Tail and Me b/c it show me what it's about and that it's humorous. But I bet you can come up other funny versions too.

salarsenッ said...

I love your original title. I think it's different!! I hear what you're saying about titles making that all important first impression. I like yours.

Gina said...

I LOVE your synopsis. Do you rent yourself out for queries? Because I would pay you handsomely for a kick-ass summary like that!

I kind of like "Fossegrim Freak: Me and My Man-Tail" Fossegrim alone sounds so serious, like you're about to read one of those epic, never-ending Lord of the Rings type novels. In which case, I would run far, far away. Unless I'd already read your kick-ass summary.

Vicki Rocho said...

While Fossegrim is different, I'd never heard of it before you used it as a title. If it's a humorous book the 'grim' in the title works against you.

The Man-Tail title would catch my eye, and holds the promise of some light-hearted fun.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I love your original title, too. And it does work. You novel isn't THAT humorous. And most people don't know what a Fossegrim is anyway. Okay, the grim part makes me think of death. But your book does have danger in it.

I suck at titles. So even though I've read the book, I still couldn't come up with a title for it.

Siv Maria said...

Well being Norwegian and working at a museum in troll country for awhile I do know what Fossegrim is. How about you combine the two titles---Fossegrim, the man-tail and me you could even put a spin on tail, to tale. Just a thought.

Lauracea said...

It's fashionable to have one word titles nowadays (apparently!). I like Fossegrim and I think I'd be curious enough to pick it off the bookshelf to see what it was all about. Definitely that one.
Nice to meet you on the A-Z!

Justine Dell said...

OMG, I love, love, LOVE that blurb. Do you use that as your query? Amazing!

As for the titles--both are very interesting. But #1 is just a word that has little to no meaning (unless you've read the book) and #2, while funny, might not have the impact you like. Titles are hard. Good luck!

~JD

~JD

Jennifer said...

I like Fossegrim is better the other title is too long. I think potential readers would be more inclined to pick the book up to find out what the heck a Fossegrim is and then get pulled in by the story. Great post and it sounds like a fun read.

Kate said...

I think Fossegrim is a great title - you should stick with it!

Once you have an agent or a book deal they may suggest changing it but until that happens I think it's a good title to catch someones attention with.

BTW, the story sounds great!

Anne Gallagher said...

I really like what Gina came up with

Fossegrim Freak: Me and My Man Tail.

That sounds intriguing, I mean, what is a fossegrim? (yes, I know.) But add Freak, and you have a curiosity. Then you hit the reader with Me and My Man Tail, and reader is like, "What?" What is this? I have to read the blurb, and then are definitely pulled into the story.

Great blurb, btw. Is that your query cuz it rocks.

Angela Felsted said...

Fossegrim is okay. The Man-Tail and Me is kind of cheesy. It's kind of like calling Legally blond, "Hollywood Barbie goes to Harvard."

I'm no title expert thought. Maybe you could try an action word that applies. Something like "dropped."

Stephanie M. Lorée said...

Without reading the book, I have no idea what a Fossegrim is, so the title would not resonate with me.

"My Man-Tail and Me" is much better, humorous, with immediate conenction, but it also borders on the cheesy.

I'd like to suggest, "Fish-Tailed", as it supplies both the supernatural aspect, the humor, and can be taken as a life being spun out of control.

Your blurb is excellent. I hope this helps you!

Name: Luana Krause said...

Fossgrim would work if you had a strong illustration of the man tail on the cover. But without an image to "explain"....I'd go with Man Tail. Looks like a cute story!

Hart Johnson said...

I think Fossegrim would need some explainer... a subhead, maybe, to draw my attention, as I only knew from your blurb what it is...

What about something like "How to Lose a Man Tail" or "Waking with a Man Tail" ??

Cruella Collett said...

I would probably be more inclined to pick up "Fossegrim", but I would also be more inclined to be very disappointed, as the mythical creature fossegrim means something different to me than it does in your book. And the latter (or a variation of the latter) title does perhaps better convey the nature of the book.

The blurb, though, is superb. I would definitely read the book, regardless of title!

lbdiamond said...

I LOVE this sentence: But that was before he woke up on the bottom of the ocean with a freaking fish tail.

AWESOME!

I like the title Fossegrim, but I'm not sure if people will get it. (I don't mean that as a slight...I had a similar issue with an old title--Ailuranthrope.)

I like Sarah's suggestion. ;)

KatyDid said...

I agree with the general consensus above. “Fossegrim” works as a title, but it almost seems like there is inside information that you need to be privy to in order to get the significance of the name.

“The Man-Tail and Me” would engage me enough to look at the back of the book to see what the title was about.

Either way, very cool…

Tamara Narayan said...

The blurb is excellent, but I'm a editing freak, so please forgive me, but I would take out the word "down" from the sentence containing "threw the changing stone down".

As for the title, that's a tough one. Fossegrim is different, but grim-sounding. The other, The Man Tail and Me, sounds pornographic. Maybe you could do something with "Chasing my tail: My Adventures as a Fossegrim." Just don't use "Chasing Tail" as that's also pornographic.

Huntress said...

First Impressions:
I was skimming the blogs today when the name of your post caught my attention.

Oh, wait, not just 'caught' but made-my-head-whip-around.

Fossegrim. Eh, it sounds like world-building or something I have to work at to understand. But Man-Tail, wow. It made me, um, speculate on the meaning.

It is original without making me work too hard to figure it out.

Hope this helps :)

Rachel said...

I totally agree with Tamara Narayan in the aspect of The Man-Tail and Me as it sounds like one of those porn movie titles.

Your blurb is great and i am guessing that you spent ages working on it.

Good luck in your title chase.

Rachel said...

I totally agree with Tamara Narayan in the aspect of The Man-Tail and Me as it sounds like one of those porn movie titles.

Your blurb is great and i am guessing that you spent ages working on it.

Good luck in your title chase.

Her highness, Samantha Vérant said...

I love the humor in the synopsis, though. It really sounds like a fun read.

Don't worry so much about titles. Truth is, once it gets to a publisher...it will probably change.On that, I have no idea what a Fossegrim is and The Man-Tail,well...

Bob Scotney said...

There's an interesting discussion going on here. One thing i wondered about is just who you believe your readers would be. As the only male to comment so far, neither title on its own would work for me. The design of the cover might turn out to be all important.

Katie Mills said...

I hadn't thought about the pornographic take...which surprises even myself because my mind is dirty that way but wow! Lots of mixed reviews here! LOL

Melody Valadez said...

Well, I love the title FOSSEGRIM and would pick it up...but I would be expecting more of a fantasy, maybe a slightly dark fantasy (with a cover like GRACELING or PEGASUS). Your blurb has a great voice, but it's snarky, and that's not traditional fantasy. And the cover I think of is more cartoon-ish, something hand-drawn rather than graphic designed to look like a made-up world. Anyway, I would go with press #2, but why not just MAN-TAIL, or THE MAN-TAIL. I really like FOSSEGRIM, but I have the feeling it's the wrong market. :/

Old Kitty said...

I vote for Fossegrim!!! It resonates with magic and fantasy and mystery!! And it's explained in you blurb too so the word is not completely alien.
:-)
Take care
x

Josh Hoyt said...

The man tail and me would catch my attention more. Fossegrim doesn't tell me anything. Sounds like a delightful book though

Talei said...

Wow, such good comments. I would say both?

Fossegrim -with Man-tail as the tagline? Or vice versa - to explain the other. If that makes sense.

Great blurb!

Jeffrey Beesler said...

Gina has a suggestion that kind of works for me. I can so see that book being called Fossegrim Freak: Me and my Man-Tail." It gets closer to capturing the humor that you want conveyed in the title.

Bekah Snow said...

Def Man-tail! I would grab that book because the title SAYS something. I tend to gravitate toward those names : ) And I HATE titles; I have changed it a bunch of times

Marjorie said...

*presses #1*

Kelly said...

I did not know Twilight was Forks!
I do like one word titles.
I think you should go with what you feel fits it best. If the editor or agent thinks something else would grab readers more, they will let you know!

Nicole L Rivera said...

I prefer the first title, but I get what you're saying about it not really representing the feel of the book. When I see Fossegrim I think hobit--that could just be me. Maybe think simple? Like Guy Mermaid, or something (I'm not a title person). In Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder (recommended reading) he suggests taking two things that both describe the book but don't usually go together and sandwich them into a title.

Love the story, btw. Can't wait to see it on the shelves :)

Nicole L Rivera said...

I prefer the first title, but I get what you're saying about it not really representing the feel of the book. When I see Fossegrim I think hobit--that could just be me. Maybe think simple? Like Guy Mermaid, or something (I'm not a title person). In Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder (recommended reading) he suggests taking two things that both describe the book but don't usually go together and sandwich them into a title.

Love the story, btw. Can't wait to see it on the shelves :)

dr3am3r said...

if you have to go with either one of those titles, I'd go with Fossegrim. However, neither title really intrigues me (yet, your blurb does).

Laura Marcella said...

Your novel sounds fantastic! I like "The Man-Tail and Me". Titles are what grab me, more so than the cover because I read titles first (probably because titling things stress me out so I always greatly admire a compelling title!) and that one fascinated me more.

Good luck!!!

Laura Maylene said...

With the right cover design, etc. (not that you'd have any control over that, of course) Fossegrim could work for me. I don't mind that I didn't initially know what it means.

Actually Fossegrim has grown on me even in the moments considering this post. Part of this might be because, if I may be frank, I really do not like the man-tail title. It's just not my thing. But that doesn't mean it's not a better fit for your book, so I don't know.

Sometimes I love coming up with titles for my stories or novels -- when the titles just kind of pop up and seem perfect. Other times, it's a huge struggle and I want to murder them all. And not in a "kill your darlings" kind of way. I'm talking full-on destruction.

Steph said...

Def. "The Man Tail and Me". I would be afraid that not enough people would be familliar enough with the term Fossegrim. I think titles are important; I often go to book sales and frantically pick out boxes of books. I make my choices based on title, as I would be thre for hours if I read the back of all of those! I would pick up a book called "The Man Tail and Me".

Matthew MacNish said...

I always really liked Fossegrim, but it was kind of obscure. I had to look it up.

The Man Tail and Me is pretty funny, but could be misleading.

Anita said...

Oh, goodness. I don't like either one...I'm so sorry!!! But I feel your pain, because I'm trying to think of one for an MG mystery and it's haaaarrrd.

The Writing Goddess said...

Another vote for Gina's version :

Fossegrim Freak: Me and my Man-Tail.

One word titles may be in TODAY - who's to say what'll catch people's attention 3-4 years down the road?

Scrolling through Google Reader today, Man-Tail intrigued me, and Fossegrim would have sounded like yet another thing I need to do research to understand. And I already have enough research to do. So if we weren't doing the A-Z thing, I'd have given it a pass.

Caitlin said...

I love the title "Fossegrim"! Most often when I see a book title with words that I don't understand or have ever heard of, I pick them up. Why not see what it's about? But that's just me.

"The Man-Tail and Me", I'd probably pass over.

Rebecca Dupree said...

I like The Man Tail and Me. I think it sounds cool.

Lydia K said...

I like Fossegrim and I'd pick up the book to find out what it meant. Your query is awesome, btw!

Ella said...

I love what you wrote, but not keen on either title. It makes me curious, but not sure if I would pick it up. The art work would be the deciding factor. Aqua Man...probably can't do that. Turning Human with a bi-line about the mermaid world. Tough, it does sound like a great story!
Turning Sage
...geesh, it is hard
Good Luck~

Áine Tierney said...

What about 'Merman' as a title? It isn't as obscure as Fossegrim, is one word, is still a little mysterious but tells the reader more than 'Fossegrim'?

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