'Moon' goes international – under a new title

Four years ago, Random House New Zealand published my book, ‘Moon Over Martinborough: How an American city boy became a Kiwi farmer.’ Time flies!

The print and ebook rights have now reverted back to me, and I’m working on a self-published international edition with a new title and cover. Many readers have asked me not to change the title. Here’s why I am.

“I love the title,” kind folks say. “Why change it?”

The problem is that folks outside New Zealand who haven’t read the book don’t respond to ‘Moon Over Martinborough’ very strongly at all. When you think about it, that makes sense. ‘Martinborough’ means nothing to them.

My goal in choosing the new title is to have the broadest possible appeal to folks in the UK, USA, Canada, and Australia.

I went through three steps to determine the new title.

1) Testing words

I used Google Trends to compare keywords to see which were words were most searched for, such as:

Also, ‘New Zealand’ generally tested high as a keyword, so I wanted to include that somehow.

2) Testing titles

Sunrise at the river

Sunrise at the river

I tested new titles using a market research site called PickFu.com. It’s a great site for getting relatively unbiased feedback through polls.

The respondents represent a cross-section of US web users, so it’s also good for an overseas ‘ear to the ground.’

I tested five titles:

  • Moon Over Martinborough
  • Olives and Animals
  • An Olive Grove at the End of the World
  • Olive and Kicking
  • Totally Green

The title that won hands down as a phrase that would grab people’s interest was: ‘An Olive Grove at the End of the Word’. However, a few respondents wondered if the phrase ‘end of the world’ meant it was a post-apocalyptic story. There’s really nothing apocalyptic about my book at all, although admittedly some animals do die.

So I tested these two titles on PickFu:

  • An Olive Grove at the END of the World
  • An Olive Grove at the EDGE of the World

I asked, ‘Which title is more appealing?’ and 80% voted for ‘edge.’ They felt that ‘edge’ sounded adventurous and ‘end’ sounded apocalyptic.

3) Testing subtitles

Next, I went on to test subtitles on PickFu, including these:

  • How 500 trees, some chickens, and a pet pig changed my life
  • Stories of olives and animals from an American city boy in rural New Zealand
  • How two American city boys became olive farmers in rural New Zealand
  • How two American city boys built a new life in rural New Zealand
  • A memoir

A trip down memory lane: Old Man Henry from paddock, to book illustration, to a tattoo on a reader’s arm.

‘How two American city boys built a new life in rural New Zealand’ had the broadest appeal.

What results is a long book title with a long subtitle, but it’s chock-full of good keywords for findability, so I’m okay with that.

When it finally comes out, the international edition of my book will be called, “An Olive Grove at the Edge of the World: How two American city boys built a new life in rural New Zealand.”

Check out the new cover in my next blog post: Cover reveal for ‘An Olive Grove at the Edge of the World’

[Note: Hat tip to Tim Ferris, who taught me about testing titles on his blog.]

14 thoughts on “'Moon' goes international – under a new title

  1. craig martin

    The process for getting to the new title makes a fascinating read – good luck with the Nobel nomination

  2. Lynn Miotto

    Good, good on you, Jared! I WILL find a copy here in Michigan, and add it to my original from 4 years ago. Love your work; your ethics, your commitment.

  3. verbwrangle

    You’re an inspiration Jared. A proper DIY man.
    You don’t really need luck. You’ve got a brain. But good luck with making a zillion sales, anyway.
    You’re not using my favourite cover but I love the name and all of your other choices and the way you’ve gone about it.
    Much love, Jan xxxxxxx

  4. Eda

    Hey Jared, welcome back to the blogosphere! I had wondered what happened to you.

    Well done with the naming. I could add other reasons why those are good choices but let’s leave it. Looking forward to seeing the new cover.

    1. Jared Gulian Post author

      What a nice sight to see your little avatar there! Like a surprise visit from an old friend. It’s been a very long time indeed. Thanks for stopping by. Yes, soon… the cover reveal. 🙂

  5. Mardi P

    Like others, it is good to see you’re continuing to spread the word of your experiences down here, (humerous,sad or serious). funnily enough i chose the ones you’re going with before i saw your final choices.. good luck with the new adventures.

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