Not so Singled Out after all: A lesson learned

How many books share the same title as mine? What, HOW many?

singledout_kindle_656x1000pxWay back, perhaps three years ago, when I began thinking about a title for Singled Out, I did a search on Amazon. At the time, Amazon determined there was just one other book with the same title. It was a non-fiction account of the two million single women left to fend for themselves after the First World War. I figured since this was so different from my own book, I could stand to share the name.

In retrospect (what a wonderful thing is hindsight), I should have checked once or twice more in the intervening months. If I had, I might have reconsidered.

I actually love my title and I believe it works for the book as it references the story in more than one way. I’ve been wedded to it since I first thought of it. Up until that point, Singled Out operated under the working title of SHN (that stood for Singles Holiday Novel – a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin private reference destined only for my MSWord folder and file structure).

But I wasn’t the only author to fall upon this simple, easily remembered moniker in the last three years. For now, as I look around Amazon and Goodreads, I find there are somewhere between six and twelve books in the English language under the same title (plus subtitle or part number in some cases). I haven’t been through them to see what they’re all about, but they seem to be a mix of fiction and non-fiction (mainly relationship and religious advice). Common sense tells me more will follow.

The self-publishing universe has exploded in the last three years – I’ve only fully acknowledged this in recent months myself. I confess, I have not once considered the possibility that my chosen title might have been quite so liberally deployed by other writers in the intervening months.

I’m not kicking myself for choosing this title, as I do feel it’s right for my story. I’m kicking myself for not appreciating in time, the pace at which the landscape has changed.

The fact is, short, snappy titles are unlikely to be original these days. Even the more creative and imaginative titles may eventually be taken up by others. So the challenge for the author – it’s one I’m happy to accept – is to distinguish themselves in other ways; through visual branding (a well-designed cover), their author profile, web site and blogging, wider social media presence and so on – so that no potential reader accidentally buys the ‘wrong’ book.

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Author: Jools

Abundant, Bold, Confident, Determined, Empathetic, Forthright, Grumpy, Healthier, Individual, Just me, Kind, Loving, Mellifluous, Natural, Optimistic, imPatient, Quirky, Real-world, Single-minded, unTreatable, Unwound, Verbal, Wilful, eXtraordinary, Young and old, Zero-tolerance.

28 thoughts on “Not so Singled Out after all: A lesson learned”

  1. I feel for you. The good news is that when you search the name “Singled Out”, your book comes up second (after the aforementioned WWI book), or at least it does for me.
    At least you did your research. I didn’t and I wish I had. I’ve not one but two best-selling authors with books out with the same title, along with many, many others. Lesson learned indeed.

    1. I feel for you too, Dylan. I think I’m relieved I’m not the only one, but sorry that you faced this – and for the same reason. Second Chance is right for your first story on more than one level.

  2. I think titles can be a bit like babies’ names. You think you’re being original, only to discover when your child starts school, that half a dozen other parents were being original too!

    1. You’re right there! It’s best not to be too precious about it, I guess, especially now the publishing world has opened up to so many more new authors.

  3. You could consider adding a “subtitle” of sorts – a la Dr Strangelove. But I think having a distinctive cover, which your book does, helps a lot too.

    1. I thought about a subtitle, but I believe those are better suited to non-fiction titles. Luckily I’m more than happy with the visual strength of my cover, and hopefully this will work to distinguish MY Singled Out.

  4. Titles are tricky. As you point out, a short, snappy title is likely to have been used before. I suppose it’s better to have it stick in a reader’s mind, even if other books have the same title, than to find one that’s original but doesn’t leave a lasting impression. Singled Out is a very good title. Easy to remember and carries a bit of mystery to it. I think you chose wisely. 🙂

    1. It would have taken quite a bit to shift me from using Singled Out, but the realisation that any short, snappy (and easy to remember) title, will end up being well used, was a harsh one. You’re alright with your title though, Carrie!

      1. Yes, for my first book I was. Hopefully I will be for my second one, too. The third one I’m working on now…not so sure it will still be original by the time I finish it, but I hope it will.

  5. Oh that’s rather unfortunate. Out of curiosity, I checked how many there are for Dead Heat which is my horror-comedy WIP. There are five others, but thankfully none of them seem to be about zombies. Most are thrillers and there’s even one book by Dick Francis with that title.

    I think I will take a chance seeing as mine is the only in (presently) in the horror genre with that title, but will probably put a subtitle with it.

    1. The decision on whether to stick with a title or not is personal. I’m just pleased my post made you think about it.

      I too would have stuck with my title, but it was quite a revelation to see how many other authors had used the same title, just in the last 2-3 years. I should not have been surprised, all things considered, but I was.

  6. Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. It’s very hard to find a title not in use for other books. Sometimes it helps- if the other books are selling well. Your book will show up for other books in the same genre- which will help. My first book published shows up in almost every book about sailing and I’ve gotten a number of sells from that.

    I really like your title! It will do well. Great success to you.

    1. It’s great to hear the positives around a well-used title!

      I imagine it’s hard these days to find a title that hasn’t been used somewhere or other before – and every book will stand or fall on its own merits, in the end.

  7. If you’re happy with your title, then you made the right choice, regardless of any duplicates. I just goggled mine again after reading this post, and I’m pleased to not find any duplicates.

    1. I’m glad I’ve raised people’s curiosity as to their own book titles – food for thought at least. As for me, even knowing there are other books by the same name, I’m happy with my title. But I’m glad for you that you didn’t find another book under your title, because that’s obviously the ideal.

  8. “I’m kicking myself for not appreciating in time, the pace at which the landscape has changed.” This is what I am taking from your post – the landscape of self publishing is changing so fast that it seems as if what you knew yesterday is not longer the right path and now a new path has emerged. I have found learning about self publishing is quite daunting.

    1. Daunting – but exciting too, don’t you think? The lesson for me was never to assume that what I thought I knew yesterday, is still the same today.

  9. Thanks for this post Jools. I’ve had the same problem with my second book ‘Lie to me’. But I loved the title – it was just the right one for the book. The story was called ‘Lie to me’ right from the beginning. Later on I tried to come up with something different/better, but just couldn’t.

    In the end, I think it is something to be aware of, but we can’t always base our decisions on whether someone else came up with the same title first. After all, there are SO MANY books out there!

    My first feedback on one of my early books ‘The Art of Seduction’ (which was about an artist, and seduction) was that the name was too common. Sigh. I must say, it did put me off for a bit, and I am still trying to think of a better title… (It is not published yet). Mind you, that beta-reader also didn’t like the name of my heroine (Cara is “so common”) my hero (“every other hero is called Cameron”). In the end, you have to be aware of these things (and not all perspectives are true!) and chose what you think works best for the story.

    I have another problem with one of my books set in the French Revolution. It is called ‘Temptation’, or perhaps ‘Sophie’s Temptation’. Not very original I’m afraid, but it fits…

    I think ‘Singled out’ looks like a great title for your book, and I LOVE the cover. Who designed it?

    1. Whilst it’s good to know if our proposed titles are, shall we say, popular, with other authors, it does not necessarily mean we wouldn’t still want to use these titles. When we find one we really love, it’s hard to let it go.

      I’ve found feedback from beta readers to be invaluable (and have even changed characters’ names as a result!). But here again, their thoughts are for the author to accept or not. It helps to know what they think, but you don’t have to agree!

      Thank you for your kind words on my cover. I love it too! I placed a contest on website 99Designs and the winning design was by an art and design student from Italy, Alessio Varvarà. His user name on 99Designs is ‘alsov’. You can read about my experience of this process – a very positive one – in my blog post titled ‘I’ve got it covered‘ from a couple of months ago.

  10. Reblogged this on Emily Arden, author and commented:
    Another great post by Julie Lawford. I’ve had the same problem with my second book ‘Lie to me’. But I loved the title – it was just the right one for the book. The story was called ‘Lie to me’ right from the beginning. Later on I tried to come up with something different/better, but just couldn’t.

    In the end, I think it is something to be aware of, but we can’t always base our decisions on whether someone else came up with the same title first. After all, there are SO MANY books out there!

    My first feedback on one of my early books ‘The Art of Seduction’ (which was about an artist, and seduction) was that the name was too common. Sigh. I must say, it did put me off for a bit, and I am still trying to think of a better title… (It is not published yet). Mind you, that beta-reader also didn’t like the name of my heroine (Cara is “so common”) my hero (“every other hero is called Cameron”). In the end, you have to be aware of these things (and not all perspectives are true!) and chose what you think works best for the story.

    I have another problem with one of my books set in the French Revolution. It is called ‘Temptation’, or perhaps ‘Sophie’s Temptation’. Not very original I’m afraid, but it fits…

    I think Julie’s title ‘Singled out’ look great!

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