Saturday, April 16, 2011

Title Me This

A lot of writers have difficulty coming up with titles for their work. You want something that conveys the tone and perhaps the genre, but it should be dynamic, gripping. Different. Because despite the fact that titles aren't copyrighted, do you *really* want to call your book "Gone with the Wind" or "The Bible?" Probably not.

I'm a hit or miss sort of titler. My first foray into fantasy (boy, that sounds kinkier than it is) yielded "The Guardian." Rather generic, in the scheme of things, and at the time I didn't realize that everyone and his/her brother/sister had a book with this title. An Amazon search recently came up with 11,000+ hits. Yeah, that book will be retitled. (After it's revised. It was a first foray and it shows. I still like it well enough, but I'm betting my skills have improved in the years since it was written. Gosh, I *hope* they've improved!)

My next writing/titling project was a trilogy that is still waiting for fantasy romance to take a bigger upswing, and yes, for me to revise the daylights out of it. But the titles rock! The first is "What Price the Crown" (zero hits on Amazon--Yay!), the second, "Once a Princess," (18 hits, mostly for the same book) and the third, "Queen without a Country" (9 hits, all about Queen Mary). Not that the titles alone will get it sold, but they are good titles, if I do say so myself.

My paranormal women's fiction, "Haunted," is another okay title on a particularly favorite story. That one will need less revising (I hope) to let it see the world some day.

My SFR "Bad Girl" was called that for lack of a better idea as I wrote it. The title fit, since the MC is a thief, and I really didn't think much of it as I queried. No one at Carina Press asked about changing the title when they offered for it. But recently, I was once again at Amazon and put it in the search box. 702 hits, including this gem from 1946 . So I contacted my editor and asked about changing the title. She said no one at Carina had suggested a change, but if I wanted to offer some alternates she'd see what the team thought (side note: *love* the idea of having a team : ).

So we brainstormed. And brainstormed some more. Several words kept coming back to me--rules, felon, thief, breaking rules--words that would give a sense of the story, combinations that would hopefully catch a readers attention. Between the two of us, we had six or seven. Kym told me to pick the 3-5 I liked and she'd let me know. As I ran through them again, I was telling my kids about the situation. My youngest piped up, "How about 'Rulebreaker'?"

Huh. How *about* "Rulebreaker?"

I put it in the mix, told Kym my 10 year old suggested it as a "What the heck" idea, let my agent know what was in the works, and waited. Well, the team liked it. My agent was good with it. So now, "Bad Girl" is "Rulebreaker," and I'm thrilled. And I know who to consult when titling my books.

Labels: , ,


At 6:21 AM, Blogger Linda Leszczuk said...

My WIP has had a title change with every revision...hopefully getting better each time. One advantage is I never accidently grab an older version since they all have different titles.

I like Rulebreaker.

At 6:43 AM, Blogger Cathy in AK said...

I'm sure the WIP and the title are improving with each revision, Linda : ) Changing the title is a handy way of keeping track of versions. Smart move!

I like Rulebreaker too, though it's taking a bit of time to get used to it. Sometimes I still refer to the book as Bad Girl in emails or conversations with my crit partners : P

Thanks for stopping by!

At 4:01 PM, Blogger Maria Zannini said...

I like the new title.

I'm also glad you're not using Bad Girl. My buddy, Maya Reynolds had her Bad Girl out with NAL 2-3? years ago.

'Rulebreaker' sounds fresher too. I really like it.

At 4:48 PM, Blogger Cathy in AK said...

Actually, Maria, Maya's book was one of the reasons I was looking to change it. Not that I could ever be confused with her stellar writing : )

And thanks. I really like the new title too.

At 6:01 PM, Blogger Meretta said...

RULEBREAKER rocks. Good choice. :)

My WIPS always had titles before I hit the end of chapter one. They were like my outline for writing and kept me focused. Not that that ever got me anywhere! ;)

At 8:31 PM, Blogger Cathy in AK said...

Thanks, Meretta : )

For me, the titles are either there early on or not really at all. I like the idea that they can help keep you on track. Every little bit helps : )


Post a Comment

<< Home