The Trouble with Titles

Settling on a title for a novel is a very slow and laborious process that can go on long after the darn thing is written and sold.

Pretty much any author can tell you title battle stories. Paperback Writer just resolved one such set of negotiations for the next book in her StarDoc series. She reports about the new title (now called Omega Games) in a neutral tone. When a writer strikes a purposefully neutral tone on a subject like this, you know he or she had to give in on the one thing they really, really wanted to keep or really, really hated and wanted to lose.

Example. The novelist says: My publisher is very excited about the artwork for It’s All in your Head. Translation: Is it too late to take my name off the cover? When we get closer to the pub date, I’ll be reporting in a purposefully neutral tone about the hardcover jacket for Pajama Girls.

Some highlights from the past:

The title of the second volume in the Wilderness series was supposed to be The Farthest Shore but ended up Dawn on a Distant Shore. Which sounded overly dramatic to me, and reminded me of those awful Native American romances. But I lost that battle.

For the fourth volume in the series I wanted Thunder at Twilight but got Fire Along the Sky. Now, I don’t dislike FAsS, but it wasn’t what I wanted. The publisher said my title sounded like those awful Native American romances. Go figure.

So if it’s hard to find a title for one novel, you can imagine what it’s like to find titles for weblog posts. I’ve got near 1,500 of the little buggers, and titles are more difficult all the time. I thought about just following the meteorologists’ example and naming them randomly. This post, for example, could be Elvira. I fear I wouldn’t last long naming my posts, and anyway, it would be poor practice. The title is supposed to give you some idea of what the post is about.

My troubles are many, but very small.

I know I still owe you the community story for this week. With any luck you’ll get it tomorrow. I have to write another thousand words today, and then there’s the Pajama Girls page proofs. I’m trying to think of a way I might give away this pile of paper. You could call it the advanced reading copy of the advanced reading copy. I’ll see if I can come up with something.

2 Replies to “The Trouble with Titles”

  1. I have always wondered if authors chose the titles for their books or not. I think it would be hard to allow someone else to name the book you have spent so much time, love and energy writing – like having someone else name your child.

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