Thursday, December 23, 2010


The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Wicked Lovely
City of Bones
The Hunger Games
Hush, Hush
Beautiful Creatures

(Can you tell I'm a Young Adult author???)

Sometimes even before the cover image, the title is the first impression we have of a book. And whether we want to admit it or not, they’re important. HUGELY important. And you know what? I kinda suck at titles.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the title of my first book. Love, love it, and maybe even want to marry it. But it was an accidental title, a placeholder title that ([insert sarcasm font here] with my vast knowledge of the publishing industry) I was sure the publisher was going to change anyway. THE BODY FINDER…it was what my main character could do, not a well thought out title of a YA novel. I even had a short list (a VERY short list) of alternates, just in case I was consulted in the matter. But that’s the weird thing…I wasn’t consulted. Because my publisher—the editorial staff and Sales & Marketing—they loved the title too. Thus, THE BODY FINDER it was.

And I was left standing there going: “What the hell just happened…?”

For book two I was more careful. Thoughtful. I spent a lot of time thinking about what meaning I wanted to convey. I weighed the feel of the book and the path that my main character took. And I came up with the perfect title. My agent loved it, and my editor too. Close your eyes and imagine it: *waves hand dramatically*


It had everything, it was evocative and dark and a little mysterious…

Umm, yeah, well apparently it was the perfect title...for a series of books already out in the UK. And it was way too close to Francesca Lia Block’s book (also by HarperCollins) titled PRETTY DEAD. (I only wish someone would have told me before I bought the domain name:!)

So it was back to the drawing board. And then one day I was going through my edits and I came across a line in the manuscript that stood out to me: “…the desires of the dead.” And that was it, my title: DESIRES OF THE DEAD. Another accidental title. But, again, I love it. And again, a possible impending nuptial. (What can I say? I’m fickle like that!)

For my current project, it took me a LOT longer to come up with a title...pages and pages (and weeks and weeks) of brainstorming. I S-T-R-U-G-G-L-E-D with it! I knew it when I found it, but it was a long time coming.

But in the meantime, one morning after watching the movie Role Models, I woke up and my husband had renamed my document “THE WHISPERING EYE” as a joke. If you’ve seen the movie you’ll get the reference. (If you haven’t, then you’re on your own to figure it out.) But I wonder what my editor would have thought if I'd sent it in like that. I can just imagine the Sales & Marketing meeting for that one. I’m guessing it would have been fairly controversial

So, I want to know what titles you love and why. And if you’re a writer, I wanna know how you’ve come up with your titles.

Because this title thing, it daunts me. Like I said, I sort of suck at it…


Sharon S. said...

I love titles that play on other phrases. Like Kim Harrison's titles are all Clint Eastwood movies . Casey Daniels has some pretty good ones too with her Pepper Martin books. (A Tomb With A View).

Role Models was so funny .

Cath's Chatter said...

I like titles that have a bit of word play in them for example 'Eat Prey Love' by Kerrelyn Sparks....great title awesome book:)

Midnyte Reader said...

I agree with you Sharon, those titles are fun. I think that sometimes a title can be really important to my attraction to a book, to the feel of the book as a whole. There are titles I love for books I haven't even read yet.

Anonymous said...

[giggle] The whispering eye!

My inner twelve year old thanks you. And loves that movie!

Patricia Lynne said...

I've always wondered about Hush, Hush. It never made sense to me. =\

As for me, I'm terrible at titles too. Have a bunch of stories I wrote and half of them don't have titles and I have no idea what to call them if I ever decide to do something w/ some of them. (thankfully the one I do want to do something with I do have a title for.) Same w/ chapter titles, I'm like eek! What do I call it????

Think I'd love to know more about what goes into titling a book.

Cylver said...

I like titles that include puns or plays on words. I agree with Cath's Chatter, Eat Prey Love is a great title! I once saw a book entitled Apocolypstick, and another called Abracadaver. Didn't read either of them (I don't generally read murder mysteries), but the titles have stuck with me.

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