Do You Compare Yourself to This Girl?

A couple of days ago, I read an NPR article about the word girl in book titles. The article discussed how publishers promote books by comparing them to other books. While they were talking about the title, comparing books is a tactic authors should consider using when shopping their books around to agents and publishers.

Jane Friedman, Co-Founder and Editor at The Hot Sheet, Columnist at Publishers Weekly and Instructor, Media Studies at University of Virginia, agrees when it comes to comparing your books to other authors in a query letter, “This can be helpful as long as you do it tastefully, and without self-aggrandizement. It’s usually best to compare the work in terms of style, voice, or theme, rather than in terms of sales, success, or quality.”

Back to the topic of titles, however, Goodreads’ list of books with the word girl in the title contains several hundred entries. Here are the top twenty entries:

  1. The Diary of a Young Girl
  2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  3. The Girl Who Played with Fire
  4. Girl with a Pearl Earring
  5. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
  6. Girl, Interrupted
  7. The Other Boelyn Girl
  8. Stargirl
  9. Kiss the Girls
  10. The Girl Who Chased the Moon
  11. Gone Girl
  12. Morality for Beautiful Girls
  13. Wintergirls
  14. The Goose Girl
  15. The Welsh Girl
  16. There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom
  17. The Little Match Girl
  18. Story of a Girl
  19. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
  20. Living Dead Girl

As you can see, the list covers a wide range of genres including, but certainly not limited to, cozy mystery, horror, historical fiction, and young adult. The use of ‘girl’ in the title is hardly a new trend (Pioneer Girl, anyone?), so why does it work?

“I have talked to other crime writers that have been urged by various professional people in their life to put the world girl in their title,” Crime novelist Megan Abbott said in the NPR interview. She went on to say the use of ‘girl’ in the title isn’t about the content, but instead is a kind of shorthand letting others know what to expect.

Maybe it’s because, as Cyndi Lauper said, Girls Just Want to Have Fun?

Over the weekend I revamped one of the stories in my largely unpublished short story collection, Haunted Women of the Appalachians, which is still in an editing loop the size of the High Roller Ferris Wheel in Las Vegas, for the WV Writers annual writing contest. The NPR title has me rethinking the story’s title. Maybe I should add “girl” to it and see what happens.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your theories in the comments section, below.

Top 5 New Years Resolutions for Writers in 2016

You don’t have to be a writer to think, “Someday I’d like to….” Well stop putting it off! There’s no time like the New Year to make resolutions that you have a chance to keep.

Stop smoking? Lose weight? Find your soul mate? Pfft. If you want a real challenge, check out my Top 5 Resolutions for Writers in 2016.

1. Write a book. I don’t mean start writing a book. Anyone can start. Write a full book from start to finish. NaNoWriMo is a great place to start. Don’t wait for November. They have camps in both April and July that can help you kick off your next novel.

2. Join a writing group. This will help a lot with the first resolution in this list. My writing group not only helps me stay on track with my writing goals, but they also challenge me to write outside my comfort zone which improves my writing. Check on sites like Meetup, or if all else fails start your own.

3. Attend a conference. If possible, attend with members of your writing group. You will learn a lot and it will give you something to bond over at future meetings. You will also get the opportunity to network with other people (both authors and readers) in the writing industry. Two of my favorites are the MAFWI conference and Bouchercon, which is geared toward the mystery genre.

4. Build your social networking platform. If you’re not ready to go public with a Facebook author page, then consider building up your Twitter followers. Develop a routine of following 10 new authors or publishers per day. If 10% of the these people follow you back, then by this time next year you’ll have over 350 new followers! And when you are ready to develop your Facebook account, then you can link it so your posts also show up on Twitter.

5. Hire an editor. It’s the best thing I ever could have done and my first book, a collection of short stories titled HAUNTED WOMEN OF THE APPALACHIANS is so much better for it. What you pay an editor is an investment. Learn more about my editor, Sheila Haab, on her website.

Here’s to a New Year filled with lots of literary progress!

What are your writing resolutions for 2016? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section!