I am going to divulge the moral of this story before I even begin this tale of titles: You can't please everyone. There you have it. Now it is your prerogative to continue reading; or go on with your day, taking heed of my little lesson.
As a hybrid author, I use a traditional publisher for certain elements, like getting the ISBN codes; laying out the book design; posting my books on various distribution channels; collecting my royalty payments; but ultimately, I sign off on everything before it goes to print. And here is where the problem, or opportunity, exists.
While working on my first manuscript for “The Swarm that Swarmed”, I decided that I would like to write more stories featuring the three main characters, Tia, Vivian, and Fil; therefore, I had to create a catchy series title. Thus, Tillsonbugger Adventures was created, based on the following:
While “The Swarm that Swarmed” was selling online and in some bookstores, I thought I would find ways to market it (marketing is the responsibility of a self-published author). I contacted a few bloggers, one of which was located in the UK.
This wonderful, honest blogger sort of said, “I’d be happy to review the book, but just so you’re aware, ‘bugger’ means something entirely different in the UK.” She suggested I look up the word in the Oxford Dictionary. After I read the definition, I turned ghostly white and had a panic-attack. Now what? I named my series after THAT! It is in print!
How did I not think to consult the dictionary? And how did no one else notice this? The publisher, even though I had ultimate say, did not mention the double meaning of "bugger". Maybe they appreciated my take on the Tillsonbugger Adventures title, tying all elements of the series? What about the editor? Surely, she noticed something but was too embarrassed to mention anything? I doubt that, though. She would have made a note, at the very least.
I envisioned teachers and parents protesting in front of bookstores, demanding they stop carrying Tillsonbugger Adventures. The profanity!
I left a frenzied message for my publisher to call me back. I was to change the title to something...more politically-correct…more of something else. It would cost me at least $400 to make the changes. Arrrrgggh!
While I was scrounging for pennies – well, dimes, as pennies no longer exist in Canada -- my publishing representative returned my call, and put everything into perspective. She calmly pointed out that even though "bugger" has other meanings, I did not use THAT particular one for my series title. And if readers want to imagine the worst, then it is their own dirty minds to blame.
So, yes, I have learned that you can’t please everyone in the world of books. But I also learned that the joy of being a writer is that I can be true to my stories and maybe even create a positive change through them.