As a project manager for a year now, I’ve tackled everything from social media marketing to planning launch parties, especially while working with my previously managed title, The Ocean in My Ears. But I experienced a completely new part of the process when starting Ooligan’s new project: picking a title.
As you can tell from my previous post, I’d already realized that this would be a challenging new task for me when the press acquired a memoir by Rosa del Duca about her experiences in the National Guard leading up to and after 9/11 and her gradual realization that she is a conscientious objector. However, I don’t think I anticipated quite how difficult it would be! Of course, content is king when it comes to books. But a book’s cover and title are the first two things that a person comes in contact with, and thus are the first clues as to what that book is about. A good title and cover both need to accurately convey the content while also making it easier for the reader to figure out the general genre and topics covered as well as make it stand out from others in its genre at the same time. That’s a tough order to fill!
Thankfully, my team has many design-oriented members, and we all agreed on what we want the aesthetic of the cover to be and how we wanted it to convey Rosa’s mix of confusion (over whether or not she can leave her army family) and confidence (when she realizes she needs to stand up for her personal beliefs). Our cover design process is starting this month, and we’re very excited to see the wonderful concepts members of our press come up with! Soon enough, we’ll have a cover to share with the world.
However, that still left me with the problem of finding a great title that also sufficiently and eloquently captures the same things we want the books cover to show—the division of self, the strength to stand up against the status quo, and the unique mix of vulnerability and bravery that Rosa portrays so movingly in her memoir.
I went through many tactics in our search for The One (as Rosa liked to call our perfect title). My team brainstormed, we gathered ideas from Rosa, we sent out a poll to the entire press, I begged others for advice, and finally, I wrote down every military-themed word I could think of on green cards, words that had to do with the ideology of the book on pink cards, and connecting words on yellow cards. Then my team and I moved them all around into different combinations until we got inspired.
Now we have a title! Our memoir project for Spring of 2019 is officially Breaking Cadence: One Woman’s War Against the War. If you don’t know, “cadence” is a term that is used in the military for the call-and-response “sound-offs” that are shouted while running or marching. Breaking Cadence represents Rosa’s eventual break from the military, while the subtitle “One Woman’s War Against the War” portrays her extraordinary courage in standing up for her beliefs, even if that often meant standing alone.
Now that we have a title, I’m excited to pass along the project to my upcoming successor as project manager, Sarah Loepp. Sarah has been with this project from the beginning and has a great grasp of the positioning, marketing ideas, and editorial process as well as where the project needs to go moving forward. It’s been an amazing experience to start the work on this title, and I’m very excited to see the end product! As my time here ends, I wish Sarah, Rosa, and the rest of the press best of luck moving forward with Breaking Cadence.