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How ‘Life After Life’ by Kate Atkinson and ‘Life After Life’ by Jill McCorkle Crushed my Ebook

March 30, 2013
The Game (dice game)

Choosing a book title is like rolling dice; sometimes stupid luck plays a part. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s kind of an unusual story.  Two novels with the same title are being released within the same week.  Life After Life by Jill McCorkle came out last week (March 26, 2013), and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson comes out Tuesday, April 2.  If potential readers don’t know which author wrote which book, then this situation could be confusing.  

But the unknown story is even weirder. 

What the publishing industry doesn’t know is that I was planning on releasing my own ebook called Life After Life on April 4, 2013, just days after the second of the dual Life After Life novels.  I thought I had an original title and an original idea(s), and now I’ve discovered that my idea was trite before I even had a chance to make it trite. 

My version of Life After Life was a little different from the other two.  My Life After Life was a collection of four original short stories, all of them (also) titled “Life After Life.”  The Life After Life collection was going to include the following: 

1. “Life After Life”- a convicted murderer is released early from his life sentence (politicians may promise this won’t happen, but it does) and faces unexpected trouble (and redemption) with his new freedom. 

2. “Life Afterlife”- A woman in a state of blissful afterlife has a chance to prevent something horrible from happening on Earth, but she has to pay a price for returning to her old (before afterlife) life. 

3. “Life After Life”- A guy named Life falls in love with a woman named Life and spends years of his life fruitlessly pursuing her. 

4.  “Life After Life”- A comedian with a strong accent tries to be serious, but whenever he talks, people laugh at him.  You know, because whenever he says the word “laugh,” it comes out as “life.”  So instead of “Laugh after laugh,” it sounds like “Life after life…” 

Umm… yeah.  I guess if I have to explain the idea that much, then it’s not any good.  That’s okay because nobody else is going to read it now. 

You see, that’s the worst part of two other Life After Life novels (from my point of view): the two other authors have (unintentionally) ruined my ebook.  I can’t release my own ebook now because every potential reader will think I ripped off these two other authors, and I pride myself on being original. 

This whole situation is my fault.  Nobody else knows about my Life After Life because I don’t have a publicist or an agent or a PR firm.  I don’t talk about my ideas until I’m finished with them.  Maybe I should start doing stuff like that (but it’s not in my personality to self-promote). 

Still, what are the odds that three books with the same title were planned for release within the same week?  If two books with the same title is astronomical, then three books would be…. astronomical squared.  Or astronomical times infinity. 

Maybe my Life After Life ebook was a bad idea.  Maybe it’s a good thing two other authors are publishing books with the same title within the same week.  The more that I think about it, the more I believe my stories could use a little (or a lot) more work.  There was really no reason for me to rush the release of my story collection anyway.  I’ll just save it for another year or two until people have forgotten Life After Life.  Geez, I hope neither of them wins a Pulitzer or a Nobel (but I’ll be glad for them if they do). 

The good news is that I’m also working on a book called Dervis Wurblewitz.  I think that book title is safe.

From → Literary Combat

  1. That is the most infuriating feeling in the world, when someone else comes up with your original idea first and no one will believe you that you thought of it independently. I wrote an awesome story about a prison and then Batman Rises ripped off a lot of elements of it. I’ll still try to publish it at some point maybe.

    • That stinks! You could wait twenty years to publish it, and some guy is still going to say, “Hey, you stole that from Batman!” even when you didn’t. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t publish it; it’s just that Batman… That’s a whole different league from Life After Life.

  2. Lol! I must definitely think ‘ Dervis Wurblewitz.’ is a keeper.
    It’s such a downer to say that your books were a bad idea. For me, the summary sounds intriguing. But astronomical squared, that got a cackle.

    Keep it up !

    • Thank you! I think the idea of a short story collection where all the stories have the same title is a pretty bad idea, but I’m kind of proud of my bad ideas. Sometimes they work. Thanks again!

  3. This could be a good thing: people searching for Life After Life by either of those two writers will find yours too. And by the way, Atkinson and McCorkle can both be blamed for ripping off someone else’s book title:

    • Thank you for the link. At least that version is almost 40 years old, so I couldn’t be accused of piggybacking on somebody else’s title. You’re right though; this could work as far as people seeing it.

  4. I often think that ideas have people, not the other way around. When a really great idea needs expression it manifests in several minds at the same time, thus increasing its chances of actually getting out there. Shame you were beaten to it, the synopses look fun.

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