Now, granted, the information I Googled is WAY out of date.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…
You have got to imagine that number has only increased over the past 6 years, so God knows what it is now.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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…
(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.
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