10. Getting a shock – An awkward conversation:

Posted By matthew on Oct 29, 2014


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Getting a shock – An awkward conversation: Interspersed as the wilderness year is with long spells of real life, it gets hard to say when things happened, but the next thing to happen was a shocking call from my agent.

My publishing editor (the lovely man who was enthused by the revised synopsis – see blog #7) who had commented at that first meeting on how much he liked the title of the book, had called to say he wanted to change the title of the book.

My original title was one word, punchy, eye-catching, apt to the central theme of the book and, as agreed by a consensus of marketing professionals… more suited to horror fiction than crime. They’d tried all sorts of jacket art options but the title just wasn’t working, it wasn’t quite right for getting a book from the shelf to the till. They had an alternative which, said consensus had agreed, was perfect – If I Should Die.

For those who don’t know, this is the opening line of 1st World war poem ‘The Soldier’ by Robert Brooke. My agent called me with the news. I numbly went away to mull it over. It was a hard moment but, if you’ve read my previous blogs, you’ll know a central tenant of my success so far has been – don’t be precious. I knew the poem but I read it again, and the next day called the editor to agree. I was, and am, totally persuaded the marketing professionals were right and placed them accordingly, on my list of lovely people. The original title does appear on this website, if you look hard enough; it still serves as a defining theme through the book, but I do believe the new title is perfect on many levels.