Now, granted, the information I Googled is WAY out of date. Regardless, it’ll amply demonstrate the issue I find myself facing this morning.

Okay, so here it is…

I found a reference to the number of books that Amazon currently had on sale in 2014. Brace yourself…

22.8M Paperbacks

You have got to imagine that number has only increased over the past 6 years, so God knows what it is now.

30M maybe?

It doesn’t matter, that’s not truly important right now. But it’s a big number, right?

Here’s the thing…

Every one of those books has a title, and there’s only so many words in the English language. Factor in the fact that books, by their very nature, tend to require snappy titles and there is great scope for a book to already have a title the same or similar to the one that you’ve set your heart on.

Here’s an example for you.

Go to Amazon and search for books…now type in ‘ Time to Die (a fairly common place snappy sort of title).

This is what you’ll get:

I would like to bring the readers attention to the small text in the top left of the screenshot…

You read that right… there are 5000 results for that combination of words.

Now, there are a lot of variations on that theme obviously, but in there are A LOT of books simply called ‘Time to Die’.

So, by now you’re wondering… “Jon, where are you going with all this?

Now, it’s one thing to have a number of books by a bunch of unknown authors with a similar sounding title. But, what do you do when a really prominent author puts out a book with the same title, of one REALLY FUCKING SIMILAR to yours?

Yup, this is the face…

I’ve been writing my series of books for the past 5 years. If you’ve been to my website and browsed around it, you’ll know that the I have 7 books planned. The first book is entitled ‘Hunters’. The second book (that I’m working on now) is titled ‘Blood to Earth

Now, here’s the rub…

They all sit under a banner saga title called:

The origin of this title goes back to the fact that one of my favourite comic book series as a kid, was Alan Moore’s ‘The Ballad of Halo Jones’. The art was by Ian Gibson, who had a quirky style I loved, and the story was the kind of science fiction tale I was drawn to.

Plus – I FUCKING LOVED that title.

When I first started writing the series, that was the banner I had it under. For a while, I shortened it to simply ‘The Songbird Saga’, fearing that it sounded too quirky for most. But then a friend convinced me to go back to include ‘The Ballad of the…’ again, which I was more than happy to do.

The name of the saga is derived from the main characters.

Gayle Knightley.

In my little Sci Fi story, she’s a soldier. She leads a unit called the 137th ‘Hunters’ – hence the title of book 1. Her military call-sign is ‘Knightingale’, which is a portmanteau of her forename and surname. It’s also a reference to the nickname her father gave her as a child – she was his little Knightingale!

While the books are kind of ensemble piece (there are multiple character and many simultaneous arcs ongoing – think Game of Thronesy!) the main character in the books will be Gayle.

This is kind of her story. So here’s the logic…

Knightingale = Nightingale

A Nightingale is a songbird.

Hence: The Ballad of the Songbird.

So now you have two pieces of the puzzle in place… here’s the third!

There was a VERY successful book series a few years back that spawned a movie franchise which pushed one Jennifer Lawrence to the forefront of the public eye. You may have heard of it. The series was called ‘The Hunger Games’ and took almost $2.5B at the box office.

According to my Google-fu:

As of 2014, the trilogy has sold more than 65 million copies in the U.S. alone (more than 28 million copies of The Hunger Games, more than 19 million copies of Catching Fire, and more than 18 million copies of Mockingjay). The Hunger Games trilogy has been sold into 56 territories in 51 languages to date.

To add to those impressive sales figures, Suzanne Collins (the author) has released a tie in book. It came out in May 2020 and here’s a picture of it:

I can see the expression on your face now, as all the pieces of the puzzle fall neatly into place…

Close isn’t it.

DAMMIT Suzanne

It did give me a moment of pause this morning when I was sent that link.

Should I rename my book series?
Is this going to cause a problem moving forward?
Is Suzanne Collins going to come after me if I publish my books?

ARGH!

I hope not.

Here’s the thing…

My subject matter, to my knowledge, is VERY different.

Also, for my books the titles are ‘Hunters’, and ‘Blood to Earth’ etc. Those books sit under the banner of ‘The Ballad of the Songbird’, and not the other way around.
Her book is titled ‘The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes’ but sits under the ‘Hunger Games’ banner.

Here’s her book alongside a mock up of how I’ve always seen mine looking…

(Oooooooo Shivers!)

(Okay, I’ve not really seen my vision of my book cover presented in such a way before. That gave me goosebumps! Sorry, I had a moment there…right, back on topic.)

The long and short of it is, that I have a title I love and a vision of what I want for my books. As you can see from the mock up, my books will feature the titles for each book more prominently than the series title. There’s no mistaking Suzanne Collins book for mine. People looking for the latest in the Mockingbird saga are not going to get confused.

At least I don’t think so.

The worst that could happen, is that people might search for ‘Songbird‘ on Amazon and I’ll get listed in the results. Maybe they might be tempted by my cover and take a look. Maybe they’ll like the blurb and be inclined to buy a copy.

I think Suzanne would be okay with that. I know I would be if the position were reversed. 

The #WritingCommunity on Twitter is one of the greatest and most supportive I’ve ever been a part of. From the ubiquitous #WritersLift‘s to the promotion of each others book launches, it’s a wonderful place to be. Maybe I’m naive to think that the big and famous writers feel the same, but I’m POSITIVE that they were in our position one day.

Hmmm…

Maybe I’ll tag Suzanne Collins in the next #WritersLift I participate in. Just in case getting her a couple of extra followers will curry some favor with her!

Love & Books

Spread the word. Share this post!

9 Comments

  1. Reply

    Oh my! Maybe you had the name first and it is she who needs to be concerned about gaining your favor. You make great points about titles here…glad you posted this!

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Thanks Mags!
      I thought after my last blog, I’d do something a little lighter in tone. 🙂

      I’m sticking with my title, I’m happy with it and that’s what I want it to be. So it stays! Suzanne will understand! LOL

  2. Mitch

    Reply

    Honestly Jon, maybe you’ll get more people interested in your books because they Google the name and yours come up too. Win-win situation in my eyes. I agree that they are totally different topics so hopefully she doesn’t have an issue with it.

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      LOL Absolutely, I’m not in anyway a threat to her managing to earn a living!
      And if people do google ‘Songbird’ looking for her work and stumble across mine and give it a whirl, then it’s down to me to give them something compelling enough to want to come back and read the ongoing saga.
      Fingers crossed eh!

      • Suese

        Reply

        From the tidbits that I’ve read, you will give them something compelling to read. You’ll likely get a new fan. I think it will only help you. How close are you to getting the first one completely done?

  3. Matt

    Reply

    Hi Jon,
    I can understand your concern over a similar title, but I do think it will be okay. Like you said, your title is for the series while her title is for a specific book. Would it be such a bad thing if people get a little confused? It may end up working in your favor since she is already so well-known! 🙂

    Maybe you can discuss this with your agent when you find one, but I think you should keep your series title the same.

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Oh, I definitely don’t intend to change the name of the series.
      I like it as it is. It’s been the working title and the one I set my mind on years ago. 🙂

  4. Flashyf

    Reply

    I don’t think you need to worry Jon, as there was no intent to plagiarize.
    I have heard the recommendation somewhere that it is a good idea to send a manuscript to yourself in an email, (or in the old days to send it in the post.) This gives yourself proof of when when you had the idea. Also, I have been thinking of getting my own domain name, and the amount of identical names with only the extension ( .com or .net etc. ) differing is amazing, but there does not seem to be any conflict there.

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      I do have LOADS of copies of the manuscript on my OneDrive. The first draft of the Prologue and Chapter 1 are dated 5th August 2016. So almost exactly 4 years ago.
      The idea of the books, and the first notes, are in notebooks I wrote in back then. It was originally called ‘Gods and Monsters’ but I thought that was a little cliche!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.