Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Truth about Titles - Thinking on Thursday.

Coming up with a title for a book can be hard. Well. Sometimes. Other times a title falls into place. There may have been times (Weight of Bones cough, cough) when the title came before the book was even written. Other times I started with one title and changed it ten or so times before the book was finished. Yes. Another truth in publishing. Nothing is ever black and white. Or even the same from one book to another. For the same author.

I used to think I was really bad at titles when I first started writing books. And you  know, in the whole scheme of things, I was probably right. Then I made the mistake of thinking I was getting really good at titles. I was probably wrong. Very very wrong.

The thing for me is I have a hard time writing a book until I give it a title. Even though I know now that it will probably change. Maybe a few times. As a matter of a fact, in the end,  I might not even be the one to change it. But until I give it a name, it doesn't really feel like my baby. I guess I'm weird like that. I  named my son in utero, too. It wasn't the name he has today. Or was even intended to have. I called him Rusty because I KNEW he was going to have red hair (which he did and does). I didn't plan on calling him that when he was born, but while he was baking, that was his name. Too much information? I agree. And...moving on...

When thinking of a title, I try to think of something catchy and different.  Try is the key word. EZ LIKE SUNDAY MORNING was a title of a book I wrote under a pseudonym, because the boy main character's name was EZ.  Yeah. Surprisingly that one didn't stick. :)  It became Waiting To Score.

I've played around with character's names and changed a popular phrase for titles- All That Jaz is the working title of my second book that sold to Sourcebooks. I say working, because I KNOW that one won't stay stick

So what is a title of a published book INTENDED to do?? Well. My agent, Jill Corcoran wrote a great post on titles. So I won't rehash. You can read Jill's post here.

But for the writer a title is often a kind of personal connection to the book, which is probably why author's titles get changed so often! Because as writers we're so close to our books, since after all --we wrote them, and we may not see the same things that marketing people,  sales people, book sellers do when they read and ultimately try to market the book to the public. After all, the reader is the person we really want to really. But the truth is there probably isn't a secret ingredient or formula to the perfect title.

But EZ is a great name, I said to myself and EZ's dad sang that song to his mom all the time before he died. Great, Janet. But what did the name say about the book? Would it make a reader want to pick it up? Can they relate to the genre of the book when they hear it or see it in a store? Um. Maybe not. And it became Waiting To Score. 

And that's a pretty common thing. Titles change from acquisition to publication. I have lots of pre-published friends who worry and worry about titles (as published writers do as well) and I tell them it will probably change when it gets published and to try not to worry too much.  Which like many things, is easy to say and not so easy to do. Getting your title changed, doesn't mean that the title was bad. Maybe it just didn't do the job the publisher wants it to do. Maybe there's another book coming out with the same title around the same time. Etc.

And of course, like most things publishing, remember that black and white thing. Sometimes a title does stick from submission to publication. But it might be safe not to get too attached to your title. Because changes happen. And I should know. So far I've zero for two on picking my own titles.  Probably zero for three. ;)  Good thing I'm not playing baseball.

And so, in this post there just might be a hint that a change is coming for Weight of Bones.
I think it's going to be great. And soon, I'll let you know why.

No comments:

Post a Comment