My historical romance Firefly was published by Pageant Books in 1988. For a variety of reasons, it had lousy distribution and only sold about 50,000 copies. I didn't get rich off it by any means.
However, unbeknownst to me, it seemed to catch readers' attention. Affaire de Coeur magazine awarded it their Best Historical Romance of the Year, and I assure you I didn't buy that award!
In 1990, Leisure Books published another historical romance titled Firefly, by Stef Ann Holm.
No big deal. Titles can't be copyrighted, and so it's no big deal. (For example, there was a Harlequin Romance titled The Roots of Heaven, even though this is a very, very famous novel by Romain Gary.)
In the summer of 1994, I attended the Romance Writers of America conference in New York City, held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. The first evening of the conference, I had been invited to share dinner with my new editor at Pocket Books, Caroline Tolley. (See also this post about my feelings re Tolley). Tolley told me in advance that we would be joined by another author she had recently signed, Stef Ann Holm.
I knew of Holm's Firefly, and in fact I had a copy. So I brought it with me to the conference and to dinner that night.
Upon the three of us getting together in the hotel lobby before going to dinner, Stef Ann confessed she was nervous about meeting me because she was afraid I'd be angry over the title of her book. After all, mine had been published two years before hers. She feared I would accuse her of copying my title
What was my reaction?
I assured her I was absolutely not angry in the least, since titles can't be copyrighted anyway, and it's no big deal. Then I handed her my copy of her book for an autograph, and I may even have given her a copy of mine.