Saturday, November 12, 2011

Book Titles

A title can grab a reader and get them to take a book off the shelf for a closer look.

I asked one of the Cactus Rain Publishing editors what makes a good title for her. The answer is obvious: it must represent the book -- be connected to the story; be intriguing; and sound good when spoken.

Usually titles come easy for me, except in the case of Storm Surge. By the time that third book was written, it had rules for the title: Two words (not necessarily the alliteration it turned out being), and it had to have something to do with a beach that fit the storyline. Whether that end was achieved will be decided by the readers. You tell me.

The title of a manuscript is the "working title." When writers talk about their manuscript they usually shorten the title to initials or one word. As time passes, the title becomes the embodiment of the story, our passion for writing it, and the paternal/maternal instinct we have developed for the work and the process. We have bonded.

The surprise for most writers is the publisher often wants to change the title. That change is driven by a marketing mentality. However, we writers have bonded with the working title and want it to be the real title.

Luckily, we adapt and accept the title change. The Practice became The Doctor, The Plutocrat, and The Mendacious Minister. We struggled with several interim choices, until author Glyn Pope came up with the title. Now, I can't imagine the book having any other title.

If you struggle with titles, here is an excellent piece that quite clearly spells out the process. This would also be a fun exercise for writing groups. Follow the link: http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2011/11/09/142173673/how-to-name-your-first-novel

6 comments:

  1. I cannot imagine life without, Ripper, My Love and Maggie's Child.

    I do agree Glyn's title was a good change.

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  2. It is an "ah-haa" moment when you land on the right title. It fits. Thanks for your comment, Glynis!

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  3. Book titles - I wonder what the Harry Potter series stories were originally called? Harry Potter and the.... only really works if you are ready to commit to the character. And I guess millions of readers did.

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  4. It's a good simple formula though - character plus quest = HPand the GoF!

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  5. Goodness, Carrie, I didn't respond to your comment! How unlike me. That would be interesting to know what the working title for the Potter books was.

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  6. Hello Jen, thanks for the comment.

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