Francesca Georghiou

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The manuscript of my first novel got to final stages with Canelo Publishing and unfortunately fell at the last hurdle! 

Whilst i'm proud it got so far, i'm feeling a bit delfated and not sure where to go from here. The agent I was working with has suggested Bloodhound and Fahrenheit. Any other ideas? I am in the middle of writing the sequel to the first book and given that I'm having no success with the first, it's demotivating me to write the second! Anyone else have this issue?


Getting imposter syndrome about the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize - anyone else!? Haha

Also Good Morning to everyone! It's been a while since I was on here. I have missed all the wonderful nuggets of information and reading people's creative work. Glad to be back. x

Hi Guys! 

Important question... 

The freelancer who edited my work has started her own literary agency as she's got a lot of contacts from when she worked at various publishers. She has got in touch with me regarding taking my debut novel and pitching to two highly reputable digital publishers. 

I am so new to this world, I just need some guidance from other writers if possible. 

- Is it naive to go with a new literary agency and not an established one?

- She has been honest and said that her experience is mostly in YA fiction, my book is a crime fiction/thriller but she has good contacts with these two digital publishers who work in this space. 

- If I go with this agency, can I be a part of another too? 

Many thanks for your guidance in advance! 

I recently had an editor that told me prologues aren't popular anymore and agents find them annoying.... What are our thoughts on this one? Obviously every opinion is subjective but have other people found this?

I sent a query letter to an agent and just so happened I was on the same course as her at University. In fact, we were taught by the same petrifying lecturer. (No seriously this woman was really scary). I didn't mention our connection in my query letter but part of me is wondering whether I should have? 

On a second note, what are our thoughts about re-sending a query letter to an agent and asking them to discount the first one - if you've done a re-write of your opening chapter, for example. 

As writers, we are so critical of our work in the first instance. But how many 'expert' opinions is too many? How much editing is too much? Where is the line between improvement and confidence in your work? 

Hi Guys.... 

If you're writing a book series and you're not published...(yet). Should I start writing book 2 or wait?

So excited to say, I followed Jerichos' pitch tips and have since received TWO LOVELY rejections! I know it's not all good news but previously, I have heard nothing back. Its always been an awkward tumbleweed situation. But the tips on the pitch letter and AgentMatch have worked a treat. Today, I got a really encouraging note back from an agent. It reminded me that my story isn't a bunch of t*rd. Even the bad news can be good news! 

Writing my synopsis in Jericho Cafe using the Jericho template! This is some sort of writers inception right? 


I am a writer living in South Oxfordshire, very close to Jericho actually! 

Currently, I am working on submissions for my first novel, The Burnt Child, a crime thriller story about the Greek mafia. 

Thanks for visiting my profile. 


Added a post 

Of all the writing habits I have, one of the worst – the worst from good financial sense point of view – is that I like writing LONG books.

My first novel was a spine-breaking 180,000 words. Not one of my novels has ever been less than 110,000 words. The first “short story” I wrote was 8,000 words, which is to say miles too long to be an actual short story. Heck, even this email is likely to be far longer than any other email you get in your inbox today.

Ah well. There are some things you can’t fight, and my addiction to length is one of them.

But that also means that when it comes to short-form copy, I’m at a loss.

I’m not especially good at book blurbs, which want to be about 100-120 words (depending a bit on layouts and where you’re expecting them to appear.) Since titles need to be short and punchy, I’m not especially good at those either.

In a word: I’m pretty damn rubbish when it comes to coming up with titles … and this email is going to tell you how to write them.

Which means if you want to ignore the entire contents of what follows, on the basis that I obviously, obviously, obviously don’t know what I’m talking about, then I have to say that the evidence is very much in your favour.

That said, I think it’s clear enough what a title needs to do. It wants to:

  1. Be highly consistent with your genre
  2. Offer some intrigue – for example, launch a question in the mind of the reader
  3. Ideally, it’ll encapsulate “the promise of the premise” in a few very short words, distilling the essence of your idea down to its very purest form.

The genre-consistency is the most essential, and the easiest to achieve. It matters a lot now that so many books are being bought on Amazon, because book covers – at the title selection stage – are no more than thumbnails. A bit bigger than a phone icon, but really not much. So yes, the cover has to work hard and successfully in thumbnail form, but the title has more work to do now than it did before.

Genre consistency is therefore key. Your title has to say to your target readers, “this is the sort of book that readers like you like”. It has to invite the click through to your book page itself. That’s its task.

The intrigue is harder to do, but also kinda obvious. “Gone Girl” works because of the Go Girl / Gone Girl pun, and those double Gs, and the brevity. But it also works because it launches a question in the mind of the reader: Who is this girl and why has she gone? By contrast, “The Girl on the Train” feels a little flat to me. There are lots of women on lots of trains. There’s nothing particularly evocative or intriguing in the image. I don’t as it happens think that book was much good, but I don’t think the title stood out either. (I think the book sold well because of some pale resemblances between the excellent Gone Girl and its lacklustre sister. The trade, desperate for a follow-up hit to Gone Girl, pounced on whatever it had.)

The third element in a successful title – the “promise of the premise” one – is really hard to do. I’ve not often managed it, and I’ve probably had a slightly less successful career as a result.

So what works? Well, here are some examples of titles that do absolutely nail it:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Brilliant! That title didn’t translate the rather dour and serious Swedish original (Man Som Hatar Kvinnor / Men Who Hate Women). Rather it took the brilliance of the central character and captured her in six words. She was a girl (vulnerable), and she had a tattoo (tough and subversive), and the tattoo was of a dragon (exotic and dangerous). That mixture of terms put the promise of the book’s premise right onto the front cover and propelled the book’s explosive success.

Incidentally, you’ll notice that the title also completely excludes mention of Mikael Blomkvist, who is as central to that first book as Salander is. But no one bought the book for Blomkvist and no one remembers the book for Blomkvist either. So the title cut him out, and did the right thing in doing so.

The Da Vinci Code

Brilliant. Dan Brown is fairly limited as a writer, but it was a stroke of genius to glue together the idea of ancient cultural artefacts with some kind of secret code. Stir those two things up with a bit of Holy Grail myth-making and the result (for his audience) was commercial dynamite.

And – boom! – that dynamite was right there in the title too. The Da Vinci part namechecks the world’s most famous artist. The Code part promises that there are secret codes to be unravelled.

Four words delivering the promise of the premise in full.

I let You Go

This was Clare Mackintosh’s breakout hit, about a mother whose young son was killed in a hit-and-run car accident. The promise of the premise is right there in four very short words … and given a first person twist, which just adds a extra bite to the hook in question. A brilliant bit of title-making.


So that’s what a title wants to do. A few last comments to finish off.

One, I think it’s fair to say that it’s quite rare a title alone does much to propel sale success.

Because there are a lot of books out there, and because everyone’s trying to do the same thing, there’s not much chance to be genuinely distinctive. My fifth Fiona Griffiths novel was called The Dead House, but there are at least three other books on Amazon with that title, or something very like it. That didn’t make my title bad, in fact – it did the promise of the premise thing just fine – but I certainly couldn’t say my title was so distinctive it did anything much for sales.

Two, if you’re going for trad publishing, it’s worth remembering that absolutely any title you have in mind at the moment is effectively provisional. If your publishers don’t like it, they’ll ask you to change it. And if they don’t like your title #2, they’ll ask you to come up with some others. In short, if, like me, you’re bad at titles, you just don’t need to worry too much (if you’re going the trad publishing route, that is.) There’s be plenty of opportunity to hone your choice well prior to publication.

Three, you don’t want to think about title in isolation. There should, ideally, be a kind of reverberation between your title and the cover. That reverberation should be oblique rather than direct. Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go had for its cover image a butterfly trapped against a window – a metaphorical reference to the anguish of the book’s premise. If instead it had shown a mother obviously distraught as a car struck her son, the cover – and title – would have seemed painfully clunky and ridiculous.

If you get a great cover image that doesn’t work with your chosen title, then change the title. If you have a superb title and your cover designer’s image is too directly an illustration of it, then change the image. That title/cover pairing is crucial to your sales success, so you can afford no half-measures in getting it right.

That’s all from me.

My kids are making elderflower cordial and singing as they do so. They are also wearing helmets for no reason that I can possibly understand.

Till soon


PS: Want to know what I think of your title? Then I’ll tell you. Just pop your title (plus short description of your book) in the comments below. I’ll tell you what I think.

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Francesca Georghiou
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