A Title, A Brand, and Maybe Even a Chicken

At last I have a title! For the last ten months, my book has been nameless, since I knew when it was acquired that the old title had to go.  I will admit, it has been an impatient ten months on my end.

You see, even before my book deal was complete, I was anxious to start marketing myself and my book. The minute I heard that an offer was going to be made, I started plotting and scheming. I got my photo taken by a pro, I bought my URL and set up the  website I’d been planning for years, I thought about all the ways I was going to make contacts with potential book sellers or promoters. I was ready to roll!

But then I found myself in a book store shaking a hand and saying, “I’m going to have a debut book out in two years. It has no title. Remember the name!”

Dang it.

That's right, folks. I've got a new title, and I'm not afraid to use it!

But, those days are OVER, my friends! Because now, it has a title. A REAL TITLE! A title that, unlike the now defunct former title, Magic Carp, does not contain any words easily transposed by middle grade readers into something inappropriate.

Go ahead. Shake my hand. I’ll say,  “Hello, everyone! I’m going to have a debut book out in a year, and it’s called


Remember the name!”

And now that I have a title, now I’m ready to MARKET, MARKET, MARKET!!!!

The trick is to find something that people will associate with me or my book for the long run. In marketing terms, this is called BRANDING. Having grown up in the rural West, this marketing term makes me a little nervous. Marketing experts have assured me, however, that no hot irons need be involved in this process, so I am game to give it a try.

Branding, huh? This is how they did it in Colorado in 1900, when and where my book is set. Do I have to hold to historical accuracy on this?

As discussed in this blog, there are four easy steps to branding yourself:

1. Create a logo or image that is easy to remember.

2.Make connections.

3. Be consistent in using your logo in everything.

4. Promote in unconventional ways.

One author who does a truly AMAZING job of this, is the truly AMAZING Lisa Yee, who travels, blogs, facebooks, and blows things up in the microwave with her charming little friend Peepy.  Peepy is a stuffed bunny Peep who has been with Lisa for years, and who has basically met and been photographed with everybody who’s anybody in the writing industry. One of my great aspirations as a writer, right up there with the Newbery, is to someday be worthy of being photographed with Peepy.  (Actually, I’d like to BE Peepy given all the people she hangs out with. But since wanting to be a plush toy version of a sugared marshmallow sounds a bit deranged, I will settle for just getting to hang out with her.)

Peepy is a world traveler! (Photo courtesy http://www.Lisayee.com)

Peepy is a perfect example of branding–she appears in Lisa Yee’s photos wherever Lisa goes (the consistant logo), she helps make connections (just check out her blog if you want to see the connections she makes!), and she is an unconventional means of promotion that people remember.

There are some other benefits to the approach too. I caught up with Lisa Yee as she returned home from a trip to Orlando, and she was gracious enough to give me her thoughts on Peepy’s role:

“Peepy is a wonderful travel companion and muse. She allows me to blog about the places we’ve been and the people we’ve met. Plus, with Peepy, my blogs don’t have to be about me. (I’m not nearly as interesting as she is.) My Peep has so many fans that when I go to a new city, they always ask about her!”

So, branding not only works, but if you are as clever about it as Lisa Yee, it can be fun and have other benefits as well!

So, back to my brand. I need to find an image that says ME AND MY BOOK.

Katerina’s Wish is the story of an immigrant family who came to America in 1900 dreaming of a farm of their own, but end up in the coal mines of southern Colorado. When the oldest daughter, Katerina, encounters a strange fish and remembers a Bohemian folktale about a fish that grants wishes, she can’t believe her luck has changed. Then her two sisters each have a wish come true, and Katerina dares to make a wish of her own.

All I have to do is find the thing that best brings this story to the minds of our readers at a glance, right? So, I’ve thought through my options. How about…

A Lump of Coal!  Nothing quite like a lump of coal to draw readers in, right? Plus it’s the perfect stocking stuffer at Christmas!  Or not.

Yeah! Those famous authors will be lining up to get their pictures taken with this big boy!

A Carp! But that’s the old title, and that inconvenient word again. Not to mention that Magikarp was a Pokemon, and there might be copyright issues. And frankly, carp make lousy traveling companions.

Hmmm. It doesn’t have to be something in the book, right? I mean, Peepy didn’t get her start as a character in a Lisa Yee book.

Hey! How about a ZOMBIE CHICKEN???!!!!

I mean, it’s perfect, right? I’ve already got a start, thanks to my earlier blog post, which spawned nearly viral excitement on Facebook and the creation of an entirely new book series from Mike, myself, Deborah Underwood, and Jennifer Ziegler. (by nearly viral, I mean that the four of us were highly amused.):

I'm showing you the chapter I wrote, because it was clearly the best. That's why I get Mike's share of the royalties.

(If you want to see the rest of the story, it’s available here.)

And that traveling the world, getting your picture taken everywhere thing? Well, there’s already been this sighting at the Denver International Airport:

Zombie Chicken vs. DIA's Demon Horse. Zombie Chicken wins!

And I’ve got this, which is every bit as charming as Peepy, right?

Yeah, Baby! From now on when you think Jeannie Mobley, Think Chicken Queen!

I can picture it now, me traveling the world with my chicken. Famous authors everywhere scrambling to get their pictures taken with MY chicken. School groups and fans stampeding for a chance to meet MY CHICKEN!!!

Hmm. Of course Zombie Chickens have nothing to do with my book. And the tone isn’t quite right, since KATERINA’S WISH is sweet and serious.  And Lisa Yee and Peepy might not appreciate me elbowing in on the famous-author-photo market.  And let’s face it, if it came to a Celebrity Toy Smackdown, Peepy could totally take my chicken.

So I haven’t quite got it figured out yet. But I’m working on it. And I’ve got the first thing I need: A Title. It’s


Remember it.


Filed under Book Promotion, Updates on our Books!

12 responses to “A Title, A Brand, and Maybe Even a Chicken

  1. You simply cannot blog a sentence like this:” A title that, unlike the now defunct former title, Magic Carp, does not contain any words easily transposed by middle grade readers into something inappropriate.”

    And not expect this:
    Hairiest Swank or
    A Nastier Whisk

    Of course, if you’re looking for transposed ideas that lend themselves to branding, there’s also
    Rainiest Hawks
    Antiwar Sheiks
    Swankiest Hair
    Awake Thin Sirs
    Karate Wish Sin.

    I could go on.

    But really, I can’t wait for you and your well named book to get out there–I’m really looking forward to reading it.

    It’s called Hankie Warts Is, right?


  2. Perhaps you could adopt Katerina’s bonnet as your brandy mascot? Or her apron, in which she carries everything from fish to chickens? But seriously, congratulations Jeannie!


  3. Hey Jeannie,
    We’re glad that you found our blog post useful- if you ever have any questions about branding for your new book please send me an email I would be more than happy to help! My email is telwell@brand-yourself.com.

    Also, I wouldn’t mind checking out the book when it comes out too so please keep me posted when it gets published. Have a great week!

    -Trevor Elwell


  4. J. Anderson Coats

    I dunno. The carp is pretty cute. I’m gonna vote for “Kat + Karp”. Zombification is optional.


    • Kat +Karp has a nice ring to it. Maybe that could be the picture book version–or would that just end up looking like the Cat in the Hat with the goldfish? Hmmm. Maybe if my kat was in an apron instead of a hot, and my fish was the one causing trouble instead of the cat?

      I’m sure there is something big in this, I just have to think it through.


  5. Pingback: Branding Myself As, Er…Myself | EMU's Debuts

  6. Ahh, so this explains the zombie chickens. Maybe you can play on the “wish” from the title along with your name, and go with a Genie mascot, magic lantern, or anything else folks wish upon.


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