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<Occupation's> <Relative>

 

Charles Stross, author of books such as the Merchant Princes series and Accelerando,  posted the following on his blog  (under the title "Why did you pick such an awful cover for your new book?"):

"Many readers hold the charming misconception that authors not only write their books, but are responsible for the size, shape, texture, flavour, and appearance of the finished physical object...Here's the reality: as an author, I am required--per contract--to supply the publisher with a manuscript of approximately the correct length, on roughly the correct subject matter, that is substantially free from factual errors and libelous or criminal statements. I'm also required to participate in the editorial process. And I can suggest a title. That's all.

The title of the published book will usually conform to the author's suggestion, except when it doesn't. Reasons why the publisher might change it include: the author's idea of a title is going to repel readers, the editor has a better idea, or the publisher's list contains another book with a too-similar title and confusion will arise."

This last reason--that there are too-similar titles already out there--confuses me.

<Occupation's> <Relative>Whenever I walk through the library, I see dozens of books that follow the same titling convention, most notably under an obsession with
<OCCUPATION>'s <CLOSE RELATIVE>.

For Example

Gravedigger's Daughter
Ditchdigger's Daughters
Firework-maker's Daughter
The Storekeeper's Daughter
The Bishop's Daughter
The D.A.'s Daughter
The Austrian Empress's Daughter
Finnish Baker's Daughters
The Fortune Teller's Daughter
The Quilter's Daughter
Kissing the Gunner's Daughter [always a bad idea]
The Pirate's Daughter
The Surgeon's Daughter
The Communist's Daughter
The Monk and the Hangman's Daughter
Bootlegger's Daughter
The Parson's Daughter
The Dairyman's Daughter
Fisherman's Daughter
The Governor's Daughter

Favoritism?

Daughters are quite popular (my favorite kind of daughter is the parson's daughter, personally), quite a bit more popular than sons:

Coal Miner's Son
The Boxmaker's Son
The Preacher's Son
The Emperor's Son
A Coach's Son
Senator's Son

as we can see from the lesser occurrence in book titles.

Allure of the Forbidden

There are even fewer books with "Father" or "Mother" in the title, but when it comes to marriage . . .

Prophet's Wife
The Consul's Wife
Rachel the Rabbi's Wife
His Father's Wife
The Astronaut's Wife
The Boss's Wife
Thy Neighbor's Wife
An Astronomer's Wife
The Magician's Wife
The Prisoner's Wife
The Undertaker's Wife
The Diplomat's Wife
The Watchmaker's Wife
The Cowboy's Wife
The Shire Clerk's Wife
The Kitchen God's Wife
The Minister's Wife
The Motorcyclist's Wife
The Time-Traveler's Wife

. . . the forbidden appeal of someone else's wife seems to be played in order to sell books. Which do you think it is? Has Stross been mistaken (or lied to)? Or do publisher's usually not use similar-sounding titles, but are now trying to capitalize on the success of books such as Time-Traveler's Wife by luring readers in with duplicate (and confusing) marketing?

 

Author Bio:

Josh Pearce was one of the most prominent Mexican Revolutionary generals. He seized hacienda land for distribution to peasants and soldiers. He robbed and commandeered trains, and, like the other revolutionary generals, printed fiat money to pay for his cause.
 

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