How Loving Emily became Any Other Night
by Anne Pfeffer
I learned how much my book’s title and cover mattered when I changed them. Seven months after publication.
I called my first novel Loving Emily, mainly because I couldn’t think of anything better. Loving Emily had been a working title that fit the story really well during its early versions, when it was primarily a romance. But over time, the focus of the book changed. It became more and more just about Ryan, while Emily, although she was always his love interest, became increasingly the antagonist in the story.
I was aware of the problem, but frankly couldn’t come up with an alternative title. Just as I changed the opening paragraphs over and over again, trying to perfect them, I played with titles, pulling phrases from the book, brainstorming with people. But nothing seemed right.
So I had a cover made and published the book as Loving Emily. And it got good reviews, except for the one teensy ongoing problem that my readers didn’t always love Emily. I thought her behavior, although imperfect, was pretty realistic for a girl in her situation. But some readers thought she was selfish and didn’t support Ryan enough.
It bothered me to have a title that wasn’t quite right. I started brainstorming ideas again, with the same non-results. Nothing worked. I can’t explain how or why it suddenly came to me, but one day it just did.
Any Other Night.
It’s ironic how long it took me to think of it, given that “any other night” are the first three words of the book. Any other night, I’d be down for driving my best friend Michael to the party, but tonight is different.
It was the perfect title. It had that feeling of regret, of “if only.” If only Ryan had done this differently or that differently, his friend Michael wouldn’t have died. It evoked that weird element of chance, the idea that a tiny step, taken in one direction or the other, can alter your life forever.
I was ecstatic. I had my title. And no cover to go along with it.
I’m not an artist or a designer. I have to rely on someone else’s vision for covers, and it makes it hard. I’d been searching out stock photos for a long time, trying to find something I liked. Finally, I saw a photo of a teenage boy in profile, looking sad and moody. I might add that he was a gorgeous hunk of teenage boy and exactly what Ryan had always looked like in my mind.
I slapped down fourteen dollars for the royalty-free photo, added the title in a fetching Arial font, and published it. With a little note saying “Look what I did!” I proudly sent it off to show my talented designer friend Dalya.
She fired back a response within minutes. “This won’t do,” she said. “Send me your photo.”
She made me the cover of my dreams.
Since then, Any Other Night has been selling much faster than Loving Emily ever did. And my reviews are even better than they were before! Now, people’s expectations are more in line with what the book’s really about—Ryan and his story. Unlike the old title, which oversold Emily, the new title allows readers to make up their own minds about her and accept her the way she is.
Changing a book’s title and cover isn’t easy, but it can be done. In my case, it was well worth it.
Link to Goodreads http://twelio.com/nnphfj
Link to Amazon http://twelio.com/a0zk7z
About Any Other Night:
Any other night, Ryan Mills would have driven his best friend, Michael, to Emily’s sweet sixteen party at the Breakers Club. Instead, determined to win over the birthday girl, he goes to the party early and alone, setting off a chain of events that ends with a car accident in which Michael dies.
Ryan blames himself for what happened to Michael. As far as he’s concerned, he doesn’t deserve to have love or ever be happy again. Then he learns Michael left a secret behind. Ryan feels compelled to take on his friend’s unfinished business, and in the process, changes his life forever and becomes a man.
A NOTE ABOUT CONTENT: in this book, some characters use profanity, engage in nonexplicit sexual activity, or take illegal drugs.