Have you ever wondered how novels get their names? The process usually goes something like this:
I give my book-in-progress a working title. Lots of writers don’t get hung up on whether this working title is a good one, but I’m completely obsessed with names, so I can’t start writing the story with any seriousness until I know what its name is. My current work in progress had a working title of These Three Words.
I love Stevie Wonder. I love words. I love the song of the same name. I love that title. Alas, I knew it would probably be changed. And it was.
After turning in the complete manuscript of a book, my editor usually asks for a list of title suggestions. I say usually, because there are occasions when my title so obviously belongs on the book, there’s no question of changing it. These Three Words, lovely as it sounds, isn’t the most marketable of titles, so I came up with a list of alternatives. This list is used in an editorial meeting during which a title is chosen–sometimes the editors like something on the list, and sometimes they don’t and pick something of their own or ask for another list of suggestions.
The story formerly known as These Three Words is a SuperRomance that takes place during the Christmas season, so I knew we probably needed a Christmas-y title. I also knew I should focus on the elements in the story that tend to sell books. Namely, a pregnant heroine, an impending baby, and a military hero.
The title my editor ultimately chose was Baby Under the Mistletoe. It works because it gives the reader an idea of what the story might be about–babies and Christmas. It’s sweet, happy, hopeful, and warm.
Not every book has been so easy to come up with a name for. In one memorable instance, two other authors and I spent several weeks brainstorming several long lists of titles for a 3-book series we were doing together, and even with all that effort, none of the titles we came up with were satisfactory.
I’m strongly drawn to a well-titled book, though some of my favorite authors have titles I don’t love–often, when an author becomes a franchise, or the publisher is trying to market them as such, the titles are more a part of the franchise packaging than they are an indicator of the content of the story. Those titles drive me batty, because I have trouble remembering them when trying to recommend a book to a friend.
Do titles matter to you as a reader? If so, what are some of your favorites or least-favorites?