Chad has some insight, and regrets, on choosing the title he did. We discuss what makes a good title and how to tell.
Episode 33B Chad Boyer Choosing a Title
[Intro] – Are you working on your other career? But struggling to get that first book published does the goal of being in a locker seem to like fifty or thoughts of having multiple books and making a full-time living or as fantastical is living in Cinderella’s Castle? Welcome to Discovered Wordsmiths, a podcast where aspiring authors can be heard. Join Stephen Schneider as he finds and talks to authors you may not know, but authors they have gotten their foot on the author career path. Hear what they’ve done to get there and where they want to go now. Settle back it’s time for a bit of inspiration and advice, come listen to today’s Discovered Wordsmith.
[Stephen Schneider] – All right, so we’re back with Chad Boyer and we’re going to have a discussion about book titles. But first before we do Chad, let’s talk a little bit about what software you use and what services you use when you’re writing.
[Chad Boyer] – Yeah, so my day job is a software developer, and so I like all of the tools but I realized that for writing you don’t need all the tools. So I basically use Word with the navigation tab open and write there. I outlined in Word ahead of time and then just right over my outline. I save different copies out as I go. I do have, I mean it’s basically a notepad but it’s called Visual Studio Code which allows me to open a folder up all at once which then is where I keep all my notes. So it’s just text files in there but I keep all my notes. Basically, I think it does with Scrivener does happen for you and once Scrivener comes out with a Windows version I will probably be, I mean they came out with it, but they say they’re going to update it so I’m not buying it just yet.
[Stephen Schneider] – Yeah, I got Scrivener One and I used it because I found with Word it was too difficult cause I ended up writing a whole bunch of scenes separately and then trying to move them around because of better story order was just impossible. So Scrivener jumped out to me and like you I’m a computer guy so I’m like, oh, well, this is more focused towards writing and has some nice features and I was using it for a while and they’ve been working on the version three for Windows and they’re trying to make it match the Mac version and it was promised almost two years ago to be done. And their, I’ll give them credit they are still working on it. They are still fixing it. They are still making improvements and to be truthful been using the beta version of three for at least the last year and I haven’t had any problems and I like it. I think the compile is a little wonky and difficult to learn and figure out.
[Chad Boyer] – Right.
[Stephen Schneider] – But other than that, I’m I’m having no problems with it.
[Chad Boyer] – Hm. All right. Yeah, I mean basically, I just uploaded the word document directly to Amazon so they compilled it all for me. And then when I kicked out the mobi file, I just picked up and put it into I think it’s Caliber and use that to convert it to the other formats. So that wasn’t too bad.
[Stephen Schneider] – Does Caliber work well for you because I had trouble with Caliber. it seemed to break, not break, but make my manuscript looked worse than it was.
[Chad Boyer] – Yeah, I mean, I’ve only done it, I haven’t done it for publication cause right now I’m exclusive to Amazon, but I did it for those friends and family that wanted an epub version rather than a mobi version. So I didn’t do a full walkthrough checking the formatting. I probably will at some point but not just yet.
[Stephen Schneider] – Other thing I was going to bring up your using a PC?
[Chad Boyer] – Yes.
[Stephen Schneider] – Okay. The one thing I always hear everybody talking about is Vellum and but that’s Mac only. So I’ve been toying with the idea of actually using MacinCloud just to use Vellum.
[Chad Boyer] – Yeah, there was a discussion on that about that on a podcast recently or maybe it was a YouTube video I saw but basically yeah the trick with that though is Vellum and is expenvise. Like three hundred bucks or four hundred bucks and I think, I mean I’m not planning on doing paper book paperbacks anytime soon, which is what I think Velleum really excels at.
[Stephen Schneider] – Yes, and that’s actually why I want to use it because I write middle-grade fiction like ninety percent of them still prefer print.
[Chad Boyer] – Yup.
[Stephen Schneider] – So I’ve got push that.
[Chad Boyer] – I do know that the services do really well and I don’t know how well they do with Vellum though.
[Stephen Schneider] – Yeah, I’ll have to see which you know, everybody says it does great so I’ll go with that that, I mean I can actually do a lot of the same stuff using Scrivener, the new compile in the beta of three, but like I said, it’s it’s not the easiest to figure out and learn. They did not make the interface easy. You should actually, you know go check it out. The new beta it’s a pretty good working version and it you know, you could get it and try it’s only usable up like the 21st of this month. But what they’ve been doing is coming out with a new beta version before the old one expires. So I I mean I haven’t paid for three and I’ve been using it for a year.
[Chad Boyer] – Oh wow. Okay. I’ll have to check it out. I sent you a link to the video where a guy uses MacinCloud and test out Vellum as a beta.
[Stephen Schneider] – Oh well that’d be nice.
[Chad Boyer] – There you go.
[Stephen Schneider] – So our big topic of discussion that you brought up was choosing the title for your book and you had some back and forth and some dissenting opinions on that. So tell us a little bit about the history here of why that’s a good topic for you and what you learned about choosing a title.
[Chad Boyer] – Yeah. Well, I’ve learned that I probably shouldn’t have chosen the title that I picked. The reason I picked the title is I had like the, the ACE is a armoured combat exoskeleton, right? So that’s part of the whole idea of the mecca, the big robots, and so I was like i’ll used Ace but without like the periods in there just as a nod a subtle nod to the machines that are inside. And then I had a whole idea of like poker type stuff where you’re getting your raising aces, you’re holding aces, and you’re playing aces or folding aces or something like that and so I thought, or drawing Aces would be another one. And so I thought drawing aces was going to be my first book and then Raising Aces would be my second and I’d messed that up. And so it’s actually Raising Aces as my first book, but one of the things in the Writing Excuses podcast, they said is don’t make your job title something that references something in the book because the object of the title is to entice readers to read it, and if they’re reading something they don’t understand they’re in the title they’re not going to pick the book up.
[Stephen Schneider] – Right, and that makes sense.
[Chad Boyer] – And that makes sense. And I thought Aces was enough that maybe somebody would pick it up anyway just because we see a giant robot on the cover. I mean, that’s really what I’m trying to sell. So I was hoping that was the case at least.
[Stephen Schneider] – But you know, but I mean arguably and I’m not the expert and obviously sales will be the telling factor, but Raising Aces if you got a robot on there and it’s military scfi, to me that speaks, you know of a squadron or the top, you know, the flying Aces. The Red Baron and all that.
[Chad Boyer] – And book two actually has five Aces in it, but unfortunately, yeah, I totally agree. The other is hard to say. That’s the other point that I wanted to make is the title needs to be, especially for military sci-fi, it’s got to be punching, it’s got to be quick, and it’s gotta be easy to remember and easy to say. I had the guys over at Keystroke Media pick me up as a sponsor. I didn’t ask they just did it as I joined in thier live sessions. And it was really cool. I’ve been going to their life sessions often and so they were like, hey Chad’s finished a book let’s put it up as the sponsor for this this podcast and he couldn’t get the name, right? So and I didn’t want to be like, actually well actually you said it wrong, you know? It was well that it is what it is kind of thing. So definitely if you’re going to pick a title make it short and sweet and easy to remember.
[Stephen Schneider] – So the ace, what did the A.C.E stand for?
[Chad Boyer] – Armored Combat Exoskeleton.
[Stephen Schneider] – So you could have aces in Ace. Yeah in Aces.
[Chad Boyer] – Yes. Yep. I could and and yeah the but then that’s like doubling down on the specific thing that the Writing Excues guys tell you not too.
[Stephen Schneider] – Right. So do you have a like series title?
[Chad Boyer] – It was just Ace series. So I don’t really have a good good title for that either. So yeah titles, it’s my albatross at the moment.
[Stephen Schneider] – So if I mean, I know a lot of people and even the pros and the Triad, they will like at some point take down a book or a series and totally renamed it redo the covers. If you were going to redo that what would you name the first book? What would you name the series?
[Chad Boyer] – Yeah. I haven’t quite, I haven’t taken a step back and really thought deeply about it. It is a, I mean it’s the whole Rebel vs. Empire situation. So I think I would try and capitalize on that in some way but I haven’t stepped back and really thought about it just because I want to get the books done first.
[Stephen Schneider] – Right? Do you have any I know we talked on the last set of the podcast about some of your favorite military sci-fi books. Do you have any books, any genre that you think had really good titles? Or some that maybe missed the mark, had bad titles?
[Chad Boyer] – Yeah, John Ringo has a series the first book is called Gust Front, and Gust Front s the air that comes before a storm. It’s like a gust of air that hits before a storm. And his series about an alien invasion of Earth. And so I thought that was a really clever name for basically the attack going on to Earth before there were multiple waves that were coming behind it. So I really like that name.
[Stephen Schneider] – Okay.
[Chad Boyer] – It’s really good series.
[Stephen Schneider] – I know that there was a Stephen King book, and the name is escaping me at the moment unfortunately, from a couple of years ago that I thought was a horrible name.
[Chad Boyer] – Stephen King gets to break rules though.
[Stephen Schneider] – Well, yeah. Yeah it the book wasn’t that good and I thought the name sucked. Maybe it was Elevation? No, it might not. I think it was before that but it was the one about the the guy that could call the lightning down and he was connected to somebody in whatever but the name like didn’t do anything for me.
[Chad Boyer] – Oh Yeah.
[Stephen Schneider] – For the thing, but yeah Stephen King can get away with it. And then you get names like, you know Wonderful Wizard of Oz which is spot-on perfect, but also has kind of transcended whether it’s a good name or not.
[Chad Boyer] – Well, yeah exactly. I mean Neal Stephenson with his Diamond Age and then the subtitle is a Young Ladies Primer basically a spot on on to what that book is all about. And the fact that the Diamond Age is a nice nice homage to the fact that he has like nanomachines attacking so much that they fall to the ground and are called Toner because all you get is that like toner grit which then leads to carbon which then leads diamond. I thought it was a well-named book.
[Stephen Schneider] – Here’s an example. I think of not-so-great of a title, Harlan Ellison’s I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.
[Chad Boyer] – Yeah.
[Stephen Schneider] – That’s you know, I mean if you’re going to talk about not telling you anything about what it’s about or anything. That’s,
[Chad Boyer] – Yeah very true. Very true.
[Stephen Schneider] – And then you got other good classic titles like Tarzan of the Apes.
[Chad Boyer] – Yeah, right which tells you a little bit but not that much.
[Stephen Schneider] – Right. Yeah. I know with your your books, that’s why I asked about the series title because even with it, you know raising Aces if you have the right series title it would probably be together be just right enough to let people know and spark their interest along with the cover and the blurb obviously.
[Chad Boyer] – Yeah and maybe maybe I would do something like Empire Shattered series or something like that where,
[Stephen Schneider] – Yeah, that’s I like that.
[Chad Boyer] – Kind of brings brings a better break. I’ll definitely take a look at changing the titles once the once the trilogy is finished.
[Stephen Schneider] – It could just do something along the lines of great big robot fighting.
[Chad Boyer] – And the civilization games when you get to the giant robots it’s just giant death robots.
[Stephen Schneider] – It sounds more like an anime.
[Chad Boyer] – Right. Yeah, exactly.
[Stephen Schneider] – So with this whole discussion what advice might you give new authors about choosing the title anything else cause you’ve already mentioned a bit about what Writing Excuses said and what you would do different. Do you have any other pointers?
[Chad Boyer] – Yeah. I think just clear concise have a point to something about your book so somebody can tell based of the title what your books about or at least get a good gist of it and make it memorable like you don’t want somebody thinking you know, oh what was the name of it? I’ll tell you later, and then by the time it’s later, they’d forgotten it and moved on cause word of mouth is like for at least any, well for any author really word of mouth is how you get sales.
[Stephen Schneider] – Right. So do you have any tricks or anything you’ve developed to help get that feedback from other readers to see if it is a good title.
[Chad Boyer] – Polls on your, polls with your readers list is always a good thing. And then like your writers group or whatnot, though make sure that you’re right is group actually no genre cause you don’t want to be poling like romance writers if you’re writing in sci-fi and vice versa for that matter.
[Stephen Schneider] – Right. You don’t want to call it cute cuddly robots.
[Chad Boyer] – Exactly.
[Stephen Schneider] – Right and that’s also an important factor with the critiquing itself. I know a lot of writers groups people jump into that that’s one of the first things. I’ve learned to take anything in a writers group with a grain of salt because we had one guy that read something was a horror story and he had more he gave us than what he actually read to us and I was reading ahead and picking up on some things and this one guy was like ripping the manuscript apart that it didn’t give us the conflict in the first page and we should have known this about that main character in itself. I’m like no, I totally disagree, I said what you’re saying may be great for thrillers, but it’s not so great for horror. I said horror needs a buildup horroe needs some of that mystery and suspense.
[Chad Boyer] – Right.
[Stephen Schneider] – And I think the same goes with titles to that, you know a romance title is would be totally different even if it was a romance title set in the military with robots would have a different title than the action fighting military or even if it was more of a space opera, you know along the lines of Firefly and Star Wars, different title. So you’re right, you know, letting other authors take a look at the title can help but I think like you said doing the polls and finding you age readers and getting their feedback is way more important and probably also you don’t want to just ask five hundred million cause you’ll get five hundred million different, you know responses, you know, it’s probably hard as a very new author but finding your readers that loved that type of stuff those are the ones you want 10 of or something to give you feedback.
[Chad Boyer] – Right exactly.
[Stephen Schneider] – So do you have a writers group that there are sci-fi military people in it that you go to?
[Chad Boyer] – Not right now. I basically written this one solo for the most part. I do have several friends that read sc-fi and so I’ve given chapters to them to kind of critique and be like does this read correctly per se but most of my interactions with sc-fi authors have been online at via email.
[Stephen Schneider] – Okay. All right. Well Chad, I appreciate the talk. Do you have any last words either about your book or for new authors?
[Chad Boyer] – Yeah, I think for new Authors just keep writing. I know it’s cliche and everybody says that but you won’t be done until unless you keep writing right said a word goal each day and hit it or said a word goal each week and hit it and keep going.
[Stephen Schneider] – Great. All right, we’ll Chad I appreciate you taking some time to talk to me today. Really good discussion.
[Chad Boyer] – Hey, thanks a lot Stephen.
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