Going to Try With a Little Help From My Friends*

One of the best things about being a part of the blogging community is the fine, fine people who are a part of it. Yes, I mean you. You have helpful ideas and you get me thinking in ways I wouldn’t otherwise do. And I’m grateful for that.

Last week, for instance, I asked you to help me choose the right title for my next Joel Williams novel. Not only were you kind enough to cast your votes, but you also gave me some really helpful insight into titles. So, let’s take a look at what you told me.



As you can see, 13 of you (54%) chose No Second Chance(s). And we had a really helpful discussion about making that last word singular or plural. It’s fascinating, isn’t it, how important even one letter can be.

On the surface of it, it seems that that title was the most popular choice. But there’s more to be learned here if you look a bit more closely. Four of you (fully 17%) told me you didn’t care for any of the titles on offer. That, plus the 7 of you (29%) who chose one of the other titles, is telling me that the choice of No Second Chance(s) isn’t exactly a mandate from the people. And those of you who didn’t choose that title gave me really useful insights into why it might not work.

All that tells me that No Second Chance(s) might not be as universally appealing as I’d like. Of course, no title is going to draw in every reader. And, if you’ve ever done research, you know that 24 participants don’t constitute a large data set. So, perhaps No Second Chance(s) would be the right choice.

Then again, it didn’t overwhelm. What’s more, I got another terrific idea for a title from our conversation last week (thank you, Kathy D.!): Downfall. Not only does is that title ‘short and sweet,’ but it also captures the essence of the plot in more ways than one. I can certainly see it as the final title choice. It just goes to show that authors should always be open to others’ ideas, whether or not they end up in the final product. Arrogance does not serve a story.

So, what’s next? Over the next few months, I plan to finish revising the novel, and make a final choice of title. Then, of course, there’s the editing. Hopefully, the next Joel Williams novel will be published early next year. Watch this space!


Thanks for your help!


*NOTE: The title of this post is a line from the Beatles’ With a Little Help From My Friends.





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30 responses to “Going to Try With a Little Help From My Friends*

  1. 54% is the clear majority 🙂 Laughing here. I think as you come to the completion of your novel the title will pop out at you. Happy writings!

  2. I am glad you got some help from commenters, Margot. I did not vote for the most popular title. However, the only title I actively disliked was Dying to See You ( and I don’t even know why).

    • Thanks, Tracy. I’m really glad I got some help and insight, too. And you know, you don’t need a reason to dislike a title. If you don’t like it, that’s all you need to know.

  3. See, that’s so American! Something wins the popular vote but still doesn’t get elected! 😉 Seriously, though, I think Downfall is a great name, so I’m willing to amend my ballot paper… 😀

    • 😆 I love your interpretation, FictionFan! Actually, you see, I had some – erm – meetings with some – erm – consultants who helped me choose the right title… 😉 – In all seriousness, I like both titles. Fortunately, the end decision won’t have the consequences that a national election does…

  4. “When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now. . .” Ah, how my buddies (bandmates) and I used to laugh at those lyrics! Hmm, they’re not so funny now. Just like back in highschool, assigned to read Orwell’s 1984 — “Wow, that’s SO far away!” Oh, the blissful ignorance of youth!
    Had your poll/vote been an election, it would’ve been declared a landslide for “No Second Chances(s)” — but an election it is not. Oh, the quandaries of life . . . and writing! 🙂

    • Ha! Quandries indeed, Michael! And you’re right, it would have been declared a victory. I suppose it’s because I’m an academic that I think things through deeply, and look at numbers in a ‘research’ sort of a way.

      Interesting about that song, too, isn’t it? People look at songs so differently (books, too!) when they’re young and when they’re not-so-young. I think quite differently about the Who’s My Generation quite differently now to the way I did when I first heard it…

  5. Keishon

    Sorry I missed it but it looks like you got the help/insight you wanted from the community. Good luck with the book!

    • You’re always welcome to stop by with your thoughts and insights, Keishon. There’s no such things as ‘too late’ around here! And thanks for the good wishes.

  6. Margot: I find I can only figure out if I like a title once I have read most of a book. Good luck with the title quest.

  7. Col

    Good luck – onwards and upwards!

  8. I did vote with the majority but have to admit Downfall is more appealing

  9. Downfall is a great suggestion. But I agree, I tend to understand or appreciate titles more after I’ve read the book. And I seldom pick books for their titles.

  10. Titles are tough. I made a mistake with Dead Wrong by not doing an Amazon search on that name first. Sadly, there are quite a few books with that title, some written by writers with a much bigger audience (and lots more reviews). As a result, a reader has to dig deep to find mine.

    Good luck with your novel, Margot! I know you’ve put a lot of hard work into it.

    • Thanks, Pat. I really appreciate the support. And you’re absolutely right about titles! It’s really important to ‘do the homework,’ isn’t it? Part of that is a good search for other books with the same title (if there are any).

  11. kathy d.

    Thanks, Margot, for the shoutout. It’s fun to do this, and if it’s helpful, good.
    Maybe being a crossword puzzle doer helps on choosing titles.
    And I’m still puzzling over “The Keeper of Lost Causes,” and “Mercy” being different titles for the same book. I just saw the movie of this book and the first title is the film’s title. Obviously, publishers in different countries have varying views of what sells.
    Good luck with this book!

    • Thanks, Kathy. And I’m always happy to credit my sources of inspiration. I like doing crossword puzzles, myself, so I know what you mean about that. As to Mercy/The Keeper of Lost Causes, I sometimes wonder what’s behind two different titles – as different as that – for the same book. Sometimes there’s a reason that really makes some sense. But sometimes I wonder…

  12. Very fantastic and well written post.Its extremely good and very helpfull for me.Thanks for sharing this great post.
    John Pellow Brisbane

  13. I like Downfall too. And in general I think there will just come a moment when you KNOW what you want it to be called, there will be only one possibility…

  14. Intrigued to know what it will be in the end, Margot. My own experience has been that either it is obvious from the start what the title will be – or else I have endless trouble with it!

  15. kathy d.

    And maybe someday, a writer will use my favorite title: “The Rampage of the Raging Rhino”! Of course, the book would have to be set in a country where rhinos live — or, alternatively, at a zoo or animal sanctuary.
    But,a t Sherlock Holmes and Edgar Allan Poe knew, animals can be used as murder weapons.

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