1. Dave Gregory
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    Dave Gregory Member

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    Can I get away with naming my novel the same as someone else's?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Dave Gregory, Feb 27, 2013.

    I'm not talking about calling it 'Catch 22' or anything, but I've just discovered that my working title - 'The Knowers' was used for a book published last year. I'm also keen on 'Knowing', but that would cross over with that dire Nick Cage film.

    But does it matter? Surely there's other novels out there that share titles? There's plenty of songs and albums that do, so is writing any different? What do you think?

    It's a sci-fi and I want a title that ties in with the key theme of the book: taking away the desire for knowledge and self-improvement makes for a very dull existence.

    Some of my fall-back titles include "Less Than Brilliant" or "Not Brilliant" - but that's probably asking for trouble.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Titles are not copyrightable.
     
  3. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    What about if the title of the book is a made up word from within the book itself, where the made up word would, I presume, be covered by the copyright?
     
  4. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like Cogito as said, titles are not copyrightable, but do you think it wise to give your novel the same title as one published last year?
     
  5. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    It is not legally condemnable since as it was previously said, titles are not copyrightable even if the title is an original word from the same book. If it was indeed such, no one could write about anything.

    However if it is something that came out recently or some best selling book (try naming your book Lord of the Rings and see what happens when you try to get published) then the readers will condemn you for it.
     
  6. GhostWolfe
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    GhostWolfe Member

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    If the title has an awareness in your target audience (like Knowing), then I'd give serious weight to naming it something else, as people's perception of the earlier use could cause confusion or even colour their opinions of your work.
     
  7. jwideman
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    jwideman Senior Member

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    If you're not self-publishing, I wouldn't worry about it. The publisher will give it their own title regardless - yours is just a suggestion, really. But if you are, then it's a good idea to change it just to avoid confusion. If the previous one is a stinker, you don't want yours associated with it. On the other hand, if it's better than yours, you don't want the angry fan mail accusing you of trying to capitalize on the name.
     
  8. drifter265
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    drifter265 Banned

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    So the title we pick isn't the FINAL one? That makes me feel so much better. The publisher actually always picks a different/better one? That is, if the one I pick isn't perfect already.
     
  9. Bimber
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    Bimber Contributing Member

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    they have more experience in this stuff and know a good title is also key to selling a book...
     
  10. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    The only time I know of this happening is with J K Rowling's first Harry Potter book when they replaced the word 'Philosopher' with 'sorcerer's' which I believe was for the American market. But change the whole title? That's outrageous. Whats next.....change the whole plot of the book.
     
  11. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Don't fuss over titles, unless you're planning on self-publishing, because if a publisher buys your work, it will be the publishers who will ultimately decide what title your book will have anyway. So just use the one you like and that you find the most intriguing, send it off for submission, and worry about this later when someone actually wants to buy your work - by which time much of the decision-making power would be out of your hands :rolleyes:

    Cazann - it's not so outrageous, actually. Titles are meant for marketing purposes, nothing more. Look at it from the business perspective of what sort of titles your market is used to, what they expect certain genres to sound like and what they're normally grabbed by, and you can see why the publisher could change the name of your title. I haven't been published myself so this is all just things I've heard other publishers/authors say - I get the impression that the author does have to approve it, I'm sure, but when you're a newbie your "approval" is likely to be arbitrary anyway.
     
  12. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    I'm happy with how my book's going, but to be honest don't have a concrete idea about what to name it - lots of ideas but I'm not completely happy with any of them. So a publisher's input in that particular area will be welcome. I see it that the title is part of the marketing, not part of the story, anyway.

    However, when I reach submission (hopefully within the next three months) I will need a proper working title in order to market it to the agent/publisher, even if they change it later. And that, I'm struggling with.

    As for titles of books already out there - it depends on the title. I know off the top of my head there are at least three novels called "Broken", for example. If you go down that route, it makes it harder for people that know the title of your book to search for it - they'll get conflicting results.
     
  13. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    This whole thing of the publisher taking control of a book's overall concept is one of the reasons I prefer to self-publish. I feel strongly that my books are whole things, title and cover, as well as the basic text. I've heard stories of publishers taking authors' books and putting contextually innappropriate covers and titles on them such that the buying public get the wrong impression of the style or genre of book just because the publisher thinks a particular genre is in fashion.
     
  14. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    There are about 3 twilihght books that are not to do with vampires, just google a book name and see how many come up.
     
  15. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    If the previous work sucks, there is no problem with using the same title.
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    not always... and you don't have to agree... whether they can do it over your objection or not will be spelled out in the contract you signed...
     
  17. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    If the publisher feels your title is not marketable enough (which usually isn't for new writers) he will always change it. Since you are a new writer, they can't sell books using your name so they sell using the title and cover as the main hooks. If you write 2-3 successful novels (economically that is) then you might get to have a say on the title of the book. There are hundreds of aspiring writers out there and the publisher chooses the most profitable ones. For you it might be your life's work, but for him it is only as good as the money it brings in. If he can increase his profit he won't care a bit about your feelings on the matter.
     
  18. jwideman
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    jwideman Senior Member

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    I understand how you feel, but I have exactly the opposite stance for pretty much the same reasons. I have no problem with the publisher changing my title or writing a description that makes it look like a totally different book, since that meant more sales. I really took to heart what Stephen King wrote in "On Writing" (or it could have been somewhere else, it's been awhile). If you want to make money writing, you have to treat it like a business.
    Amanda Hocking is a great example - she did a lot of research on the market, studied trends, and basically sold her books to her audience before she wrote them. Anything less, and she wouldn't have been a best seller. She treats her writing like a business.
    Me, I'd rather just write.
     
  19. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I think you're getting way ahead of yourself, here. Consider your title a working title and just get on with writing the best story you can. Worry about the other issues when you get there.

    Good luck.
     

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