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Quite the World, Isn't It?

Jones’s Bones – it was just a name anyway

Well, for those of you expecting to read Jones’s Bones: The Search for an American Hero in the spring, it ain’t going to happen. Oh, the book is still being published, but after some back-and-forth and input from the folks who actually have to market and sell it, we’ve changed the name.

The Admiral and the Ambassador: One Man’s Obsessive Search for the Body of John Paul Jones

I hear your communal sigh, and “but, I LOVED the Jones’s Bones title!” Truth be told, I loved that title, too. But my loyalty to it was eroded by some pretty compelling arguments, and I’m trotting them out here because I think it’s probably interesting to book lovers to see some of the thinking that goes into these decisions.

First, the folks at Chicago Review Press, who are publishing the book (they did Detroit: A Biography, as well), had the same initial reaction to the original title as we all did. They loved it. But they knew the book was coming, and what it was about. They showed the title to some folks who didn’t know what the book was about. And after reading the title, they still didn’t. Because it doesn’t say which Jones, and old John Paul just doesn’t have the instant recognition of, say, Miley. Even adding a picture of Jones in his admiral’s hat didn’t help much. But getting the John Paul in there, well, that was instant recognition.

Most significant, though, was that without John Paul Jones in the title, we feared search engines looking for his name would not find the book. And in this era of digital existence, if Amazon’s title search engine can’t find it, let alone Google, the book may as well not exist.

So we bounced around constructs along the lines of Jones’s Bones: One Man’s Obsessive Search for the Body of John Paul Jones. But the double Jones just felt odd, as though a line in a poem had slid off rhythm. We played with some others, all of which fell short either because of redundancy, or imprecision.

So we finally hit on The Admiral and the Ambassador: One Man’s Obsessive Search for the Body of John Paul Jones. Doesn’t grab like Jones’s Bones, to be sure, but it could help me sell more books. Which would be really nice. Because as much fun as working on these projects might be, writers still need to eat. And I don’t like cheap beer.

Oh, and I’ve seen mockups of the cover. Verrrry nice. I’ll share it when I can.
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