If you’re friends with me on Facebook, and if the algorithmic stars aligned enough that my post made it past just me, you received notification yesterday that I changed the title of my latest book from Grief, Inc. to Hope, Unlimited. This was a much more difficult decision than changing Aiden’s name to Adam (albeit, I am the only one who has done so and I forget most of the time that his true name is Adam, except when I’m writing about it). I love, love, love the name Grief, Inc. The title came to me far before the plot resolved itself. I think it’s catchy and intriguing. I wrote the book when I was pregnant with the twins, who are now 15 months old and part of my journey in writing it was saying goodbye to life as I knew it and hello to something better that was in store for me. This only became more and more apparent as things have continued to unfold.
Grief referred to the grief group that Holly, the protagonist, attends as she comes to grip with the fact that she’s got a fatal condition and only a few months to live. Grief, Inc. is really about letting go of everything we think gives us comfort and identity and becoming open to what more there is for us. I have had no small amount of experience letting go of crappy things to make room for better ones, and it still surprises me somewhat that there is grieving involved in the letting go.
As much as I really like this book, it has also been rejected quite a few times. Yes, I know that’s part of the process but I do try to use every rejection as an opportunity to improve if possible. Some of the feedback I received was that it took too long to get started (so I fixed that) and another publisher just couldn’t get into the story. That part didn’t bother me as much, because a lot of other people did, so I figure it will resonate with folks. But something about the title always kind of bothered me. One agent told me she thought the book seemed too dark. I kept trying to emphasize that even though it’s about death, it’s FUNNY, but as I know as well as anyone, words have power. So, maybe the whole “Grief” thing is giving it the wrong vibe.
Not very long ago Hope, Unlimited came to me. I’m sure this name must be used for other things. I think there’s a church by this name – maybe several, but I think that’s okay. I think the new title still conveys a sense of a corporation or business (which it’s supposed to, because the angels – Sandra and Charlotte – are in the business of changing and saving lives). But maybe it carries a bit more of the spirit of the book, which is one of hope. If I go the self-publishing route, which is looking more and more likely at this point, then I think it’ll help to have a title that is more indicative of the type of book it is. And, this also frees up Grief, Inc. for a whole new story line.
It is kind of embarrassing to do this. Part of me wants to just stick with the original title, and for every person who loves the new title, there will be someone who thinks I should have stayed with Grief, Inc. And hey, maybe having a new title and no publisher will get me to my next step of FINALLY creating my author page and all the other stuff I’ve been putting off.