Sending Island of Fog to an editor

Posted on October 19, 2008 (Subscribe to Blog)

A month ago I spoke to an editor who lives in Marietta, near Atlanta, about an hour and a half from my house. I asked if she'd be interested in applying her editing skills to my novel, Island of Fog, and she said yes, as soon as she's finished with a couple of other books she's working on. We spoke again recently, and it looks like she's going to be ready to start on mine around the end of October – assuming, that is, I get it finished! Well, I aim to; it's always nice having an actual deadline, otherwise time just keeps on slipping by. So in the next week, two weeks at most, I expect to finish off and get it ready for a professional, critical eye. *Gulp*

The editor's career profile is pretty impressive, including roles such as script coordinator for Jack Nicholson and Mel Brooks! Yet her prices seem very reasonable. I have good vibes about her anyway, and am going to plunge in and go for it. One thing she mentioned in passing was, "Have you checked to see that the title, Island of Fog, has been used before?" At first I answered, "Of course!" Then I had pause for thought, because it was so long ago that I thought of the title (2002) that I honestly can't remember. Plus, there may have been a similar title published in the last six years. So, off I go now to Google...

The first result I found for "island of fog" was Now, I'm pretty certain that wasn't there when I first thought of my title. As for the web address, I bought in February 2005, whereas was created in December 2005. Looks I got in just in time.

Other than that, the top results for "island of fog" seem to be for foggy islands in Maine or California.

I looked on Amazon for books featuring "island" and "fog" in the title, and the first page yielded such titles as The Spirit of Fog Island, Nantucket Recipes from the Fog Island Cafe, Haunting of Fog Island, Fog Island, Fog Island Secret, Dark Towers of Fog Island, Phantom of Fog Island, and – oops! – Island of Fog. This mass-market paperback was published by Beagle in 1974, a gothic horror by Myra Kingsbury. Some more digging reveals that it repeatedly gets listed alongside another title of hers, Beware the Bog, published in 1975. Beyond that there's nothing that I can find about the author, although I found a blogger who is currently reading Island of Fog. Well, I'm not too worried; Kingsbury's book is three decades old and out of print. And other similar titles, such as Haunting of Fog Island, are just as old and out of print. "Fog" and "Island" just go together so well and are bound to be used in a horror or supernatural setting. There was even a movie called Fog Island, although that was back in 1943.

It does make me curious though. It's sort of a shock, seeing your carefully chosen title used by others, especially when you've lived with the title for a while. It becomes "yours" and then it's almost a feeling of indignation when you see it's been used elsewhere. But it's just a title, and a pretty generic one too; "island" and "fog" are two very common words and, used together, easily conjure up an atmospheric setting. I'd be much more concerned if I had titled the novel Islet of Stratus Clouds and found it had been used before.

More important is: Has the plot been used before? Well, not that I know of. But, as "my editor" reminded me, there are only six or seven basic plots in story-telling anyway. All stories follow one of these plots in some way, shape or form. Apparently.

Comment by JULIAN PARRY on Monday, October 20, 2008...

Glad to know that your novel is getting on well, Keith! I haven't written anything for a while; too busy with other things. Now however, I intend to finish my novel too (more than half completed). It seems that you are ahead of me though; you already prepare to send it to an editor while I just finish my 16th chapter! Not a very long way to go, but still.....

Comment by LIZ FILLEUL on Wednesday, October 22, 2008...

Hope it all goes well with the editor, Keith! Will she be able to give you any ideas about which agents or publishers might be most receptive to your book?

Definitely don't be late — not even by one day — submitting to her. Deadlines are really important in publishing and increasingly so, so you don't want to create a bad impression by being late.

There's no copyright on titles in Australia and the UK — is it the same in the US?


Comment by NIGEL ROWE on Friday, October 24, 2008...

It's all a bit foggy to me. I note the link you gave is a site for people with chronic illnesses such as ME. Hope that's not an omen! Can't wait to read it. Good luck.

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