The Chicken or The Egg ... The Title or the Story ... Which Comes First?

Today at BRA we have uber-talented, multi-published romance author Nancy Fraser! With eleven projects on the docket for the next year, we know this gal has been busy. Take it away, Nancy . . . 

The proverbial question ... which came first? The chicken or the egg?

As a writer, one of the things I find most difficult when creating a book is selecting the best title for my work. I’ll sometimes start with a “really cool” idea for a title, and plan my book around that.

Usually about half-way through, my characters start demanding something different. Or, the story has changed and the title no longer fits.

One of the many things I’ve learned in over 20 years of writing romantic fiction: DO NOT become attached to your title!

A perfect example of choosing the title first came with my historical romance, Gambling on Love, written with friend Patti Shenberger and released earlier this year. The original title was Runaway Angel – based on the story idea that our heroine is running away from her home in Louisiana with her father’s illegally indentured workers in tow. They consider her an “angel” because, not only has she’s prepared them for life in the north by teaching them to read and write, but she’s also sold off many family heirlooms to pay for their passage!

Now, mind you, the new title, Gambling on Love, fits just as well. Our hero runs a gambling riverboat and he’s opposed to a permanent relationship or lasting love ... until he meets our heroine, of course.

One of the most frustrating things about titles revolves around rejection. I remember way back in the mid to late 1990s I’d submitted a manuscript to a major publisher. I loved the story, I loved the title ... but apparently I was the only one. The book was rejected. However, about nine months later I saw my title on one of the publisher’s new releases in the same series line I’d submitted to!

I happened to run into the author at a conference that following summer and introduced myself and commented on her book and title. She gave me this long sigh and said, “That wasn’t the title I’d given the book. They changed it on me about halfway through the editing process.” I didn’t say anything but the urge to boycott the publisher was paramount in my mind!

What’s the secret to keeping your title? Well, if you have ˜star˜ power, or a really great agent, you can negotiate it into your contract. OR, you can do what I did with my ten-book novella series, The Golden Decade of Rock and Roll, with The Wild Rose Press ... you can use song titles! Of course, then, you’re stuck with the title ... no matter how much your characters complain.

Fortunately, my newest release, “April Love”, (out today on Kindle Select) fell right in line with the title as I was writing.
I started the story in early March, had my characters fall in love in April, and reach their HEA to the wonderful background music of some old-fashioned rock and roll! Sometimes romance doesn’t get any better than that!

Book Blurb for April Love:

Eleanor Martin is every company's dream employee. She arrives early, stays late and never misses a day. If it weren't for Eleanor's skill as a private secretary, her architect boss would never make a deadline. Not only does she keep him on track, she runs interference between him and his over-bearing mother, his deadbeat brother, and the half dozen or so women who want to bed him and/or wed him.

When Jess Norton acquires a new client who asks him to build a palatial hideaway on Grand Cayman Island, Jess is certain he'll never be able to complete the multi-million dollar job without the help of his efficient secretary.  Despite her reservations, he convinces Eleanor to accompany him on the assignment of a lifetime.

The sun and the sand cast the perfect spell for romance But will the tides turn in the opposite direction?

Author Bio:

Like most authors, Nancy began writing at an early age, usually on the walls and with crayons or, heaven forbid, permanent markers. Her love of writing often made her the English teacher’s pet, which, of course, resulted in a whole lot of teasing. Still, it was worth it.

With eleven contracts/releases coming up in the next year, Nancy is currently working on a four book series titled, All The Single Ladies. The first book in the series, Tall, Dark and Hers, is scheduled for Summer, 2014 release from Entangled. Also in the works is the fifth novella in Nancy’s Rock and Roll Romance series for The Wild Rose Press.
When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five beautiful grandchildren and enjoys traveling and reading.

Social Media:
Twitter: @nfraserauthor

All of Nancy’s books can be found on her Author Central page:

Question of the Week: Do you ever write a story based on a great title? How about a tag line?


  1. Great question, Nancy! sometimes I come up with fabulous titles but have so many stories lines up to write, I never get to them. My book The Dream Jumper's Promise was originally called Surfacing Slowly, but my critique group thought I should use the dream jumping aspect in the title and I switched. Titles are sooo important!

  2. I have several books titled after songs I like...those I write the story around. Some come to me as I write. It's always interesting to see what others do. Great subject matter and excellent post, Nancy!