Tuesday, March 30, 2010

what makes a lead title? (Your Questions continued)

Anonymous asks, I would be curious to know how lead titles are chosen in a season's releases. I have an internship which involves receiving insane numbers of advance/review copies and I'm always curious about the reasoning for some of them getting labeled lead releases.

A lead title might be picked for a number of reasons.

1) A huge advance was paid. Now the company is in a kind of "oh shit!" position. They have to make back the money they spent, so they have to throw down tons of support to get it extra attention. (This is one of the reasons your agent pushes for a bigger advance--not only because it's nice to have the cash in hand, but also because then the company is in theory fiscally bound to treat you as a serious investment.)

1a) Sometimes the billed lead title will be the book the editorial team is most excited about, even if it's not the one they paid the most for. Usually lead title billing is tied to money, but not always.

2) Because the book, for whatever reason, starts to get a lot of surprise attention from buyers and reviewers. This is an "emerging" lead title. Publishers are often a little off about which book on their list will be the MOST exciting, and sometimes there's a sleeper hit. Actually, from my experience I've found there's at least one sleeper hit in every list--ie a book the publisher slightly underestimated. If the book emerges relatively early (before galleys go out), stuff will get relabeled accordingly.

All this said, some publishers just sticker everything with "lead title" in hopes that it will get buzz attention. That means (I'm pretty sure) that everyone just kind of ignores it all, and pays attention to what they feel like.

So. Was this helpful, or depressing?

11 comments:

Kate Evangelista said...

It's quite interesting. I never thought of it happening that way.

Adam Heine said...

Actually, it makes perfect sense, in a I-guess-I-could've-figured-that-out-myself kind of way. A lead title is one the publisher paid lots of money for/is excited about or else one the public paid lots of money for/is excited about.

Kristan said...

"So. Was this helpful, or depressing?"

Lol both? But hey, isn't that how everything is in the publishing industry: a little bit of both? :P

Theresa Milstein said...

I knew some books were promoted more than others. This gives me the reasons why. Sure, it's depressing. When it comes to the publishing industry through the eyes of an aspiring author, it's ALL depressing!

Bethany said...

Quite interesting. Thanks for the answer!

JES said...

Y'know, I'd love love LOVE to be an author in category 1a: "We're really excited about your book, although we couldn't make the advance higher." Especially if the publisher is a really good one.

Still, you know -- having the team as excited about my book AND having paid more to acquire it: much better. :)

Still... I put this post next to Nathan's of yesterday, about not counting on marketing to sell books (because nobody really knows what marketing works). And I confess to experiencing a little cognitive dissonance.

Tawna Fenske said...

Fascinating stuff! I'll admit I'd never heard the term "lead title" before, but I totally get the concept and have seen it in practice.

Wow, now I have one more thing to worry about and my book isn't even due out for 16 months...will I be a lead title?! (kidding. er, mostly).

Tawna

Claire Dawn said...

Definitely helpful and not at all depressing, especially if you're a lead title! :)

Anonymous said...

No, not depressing if you're a lead title. Depressing if you aren't. I've had both, and there's no question having a lead title has made my life easier by opening doors for me.

Anonymous said...

I have a book coming out that falls into the 1a category. And so far, it sure beats not being in that category (my books have not been lead titles many times before). Plus I know for sure that I will earn out my advance.

Grace Elliot said...

I read this article thinking it would tell me how to create the perfect book title! LOL.
too much Christmas cheer,
Grace x