Announcing: WHAT WE LOST (or, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet)

posted on
November 26th, 2012
written by

In the biz, authors and publishers do their absolute best to come up with a title and a cover that both capture a story and attract new readers. Sometimes, no matter what’s inside the book or how much it means to the people who have found it, the title and cover aren’t working the way everyone involved had hoped.

Once Was Lost has always trailed far behind my other books in terms of how many readers it has found and have found it. My publisher and I have been discussing for some time a cover change, and a title change. I was always on board with a cover change. I waffled on changing the title. I know what it means to the people to whom it means something, and I know what it means to me. But ultimately I want the story to have every chance in the world to be read. There are people unfamiliar with the hymn who don’t get the syntax of “once was lost”, and there are people plenty familiar with the hymn for whom “once was lost” broadcasts a religious topic which–as you know if you’re read it–is only a part of the story, though it is certainly about faith of all kinds. We came up with What We Lost, which we all agree retains the mood of the story and opens the invitation to read a bit wider.

Soon I’ll be able to reveal the new cover to you. I love it, and I think really goes nicely with all my other covers and is a bit more energetic and human-feeling. After that I’ll be updating everything across my web site to show the new title and cover while still making it clear this is not a new book.

If you already have Once Was Lost, there’s no need to buy it again! (Unless you are a collector personality and want every version of of everything.) It’s the exact same book inside, I promise you. It’s just getting a makeover, and a lovely one at that, if you ask me. Cover to come soon!

Make a note of it:


  • Shari Green - November 26, 2012 at 11:54 am -

    Exciting! I hope it’s very effective in reaching more readers, because it is an awesome book! I LOVE the original cover and title, and it’s probably my favourite of your books so far. But more readers is good! Good luck with it. Looking forward to the big reveal… :)

  • evan roskos - November 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm -

    fascinating change and love the insight into the process since it shows you were involved, rather than a mysterious team of people deciding for you. As a former bookseller, I know covers can do more harm than anyone wants to admit. But it’s the nature of getting to know a book — no one is going to read the first page of every book on the shelf. So: title + cover has a crucial job.

  • Jenn Baker (@jbakernyc) - November 26, 2012 at 12:39 pm -

    “One Was Lost” was the book that introduced me to Sara Zarr! I’m still very glad I got it when it came out and am psyched to hear it’s getting new life.

  • matt de la pena - November 26, 2012 at 3:11 pm -

    This is really interesting. I’m excited for the new look and hope the story gets out there in a whole new way. All Sara Zarr books should be read!

  • Petra - November 26, 2012 at 3:37 pm -

    I remember you mentioned this awhile back. I think it’s a great idea because so many did miss out on it. I really liked this one – but the cover always made me a little sad – I donno why.
    I’ll be one of those who needs a new version of the book ’cause I need a “Sara Zarr’ everything!
    Cheers to you! AND I’M SO FLIPPING EXCITED FOR LUCY! Double cheers! :)

  • Maria - November 26, 2012 at 4:40 pm -

    Once was lost is the only book of yours I haven’t read. Not because of the title (which I’ve always found beautiful) but maybe the religious part made me hesitate. Words like pastor’s kid and God tend to do that for some reason… But I love your other books and I would like to read this one too – with new title or old.

  • Debbie Barr - November 26, 2012 at 10:36 pm -

    ONCE WAS LOST may very well be my favorite book of yours. I hope that the makeover helps it find more readers! Excited to see what the new cover will be like. :)

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