Every book starts with a title. Sometimes they end with a new one.
When I first proposed Reality TV: An Insider’s Guide to TV’s Hottest Market to the nice folks at Michael Wiese Productions, I did so with the title Imitation of Life: An Insider’s Guide to Reality Television. It seemed catchy, and played up how most people view the genre on the whole: as a manipulated version of real life events, whittled down to two hours, ninety minutes, sixty minutes, or a half hour.
Ken and Michael at MWP dug the proposal, and I set about writing the book.
Then, about eight months into the writing, came my writer pal Eduardo’s ultra-frank smart-apple comment after hearing the title: “Does it come with a free wheel of brie?”
Milliseconds later, with those words still hanging in the air over the table, I already knew he was right. It wasn’t a good title for the book. Imitation of Life was just a little too precious, and precious writing is how you end up making mistakes like doling out tongue-twisting alliterative host copy… something I was guilty of the first half of my career when I was still trying to prove I could be clever instead of focusing on being clear. As the guy whose catchphrase has always been, “Reality can be better,” I suddenly thought the book’s title could be, too.
I wanted to convey the idea that Reality was a booming genre where there was work to be found. Very few media schools teach reality/nonfiction television production (save for critical studies), primarily, I presume, because aspiring young creatives with tuition dollars to spend don’t find it as sexy as making movies and traditionally scripted TV comedies and dramas.
After some back-and-forth with MWP’s Ken Lee and Michael Wiese himself, we arrived at the title you’ll see the book released under: Reality TV: An Insider’s Guide to TV’s Hottest Market. That one stuck, and really says what I mean to say — the genre is booming.
I think the title we settled on was infinitely more direct and engaging. So long, “Imitation of Life.”
Depending on where you take your book-buying business, here is an updated partial list of bookstores currently accepting preorders for Reality TV: An Insider’s Guide to Television’s Hottest Market. If you are a chain or independent bookseller with an online presence, plan to carry the book, can take preorders and would like to have your link included, please include that info the comments section of this post and I’ll add you to the list!