ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

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Tuesday, 20 September 2016

ARE YOU GAME TO CHANGE YOUR BOOK TITLE? WEP October challenge--CONSTELLATIONS/HALLOWEEN!

Hello fellow scribes!

It's the September/October school holidays in Oz, so I'm chilling at the beach. Hard to think about blogging, but I can't leave Crystal Collier's cover reveal up forever!

George Santayana said: "To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring." I don't know. We Aussies are hopelessly in love with every season except summer. In these days of global warming, it's just way too hot and we're sick of getting melanomas cut out! So at the mo', we're enjoying beautiful spring weather and that means the sun, surf and sand and relaxing.


I keep a special desk on the deck so I can ponder the Pacific blue.

So, after much pondering I came up with a post!

Book Titles.

We writers can be overprotective and pathological hoverers when it comes to book titles.

Okay. We’ve made the monumental effort of producing a book. Maybe the monumental effort of choosing the title is the final hurdle we have to jump over. 

Or maybe we think it’s no-one’s business but our own what we call our little darling.

If you’re traditionally published, a book’s title is subject to hot debate and sometimes you have little/no input. 

The creative and commercial worlds collide.

Usually, the commercial wins.

But I did a little research and found that history shows us that that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Here are a few title changes which should warm your heart, and help us to trust editors and others when they offer advice re the title of your baby.


  • The Jewboy became Whacking Off which then became Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint.
  • Jane Austen’s father submitted an early version of her second novel, First Impressions. It was rejected, only to re-emerge as Pride and Prejudice.
  • Jacqueline Susann’s They Don’t Build Statues to Businessmen became Valley of the Dolls.
  • How about 1984. George Orwell’s The Last Man in Europe doesn’t quite have the ring. Changing its name resulted in commercial success.
  • One of my favourite stories—the publisher Faber plucked Strangers from Within from the slush pile. With some masterful editing, it became Lord of the Flies. Say no more.
  • Margaret Mitchell's blockbuster Gone With the Wind was tentatively titled Tomorrow is Another Day.
Now if you’re self-published, as more and more of us are these days, you don’t have whole marketing departments, sales teams, book chains and publicity directors clamouring over your book, demanding the commercial title of their choice.

You may say, just as well. My title is sacrosanct.

Is it?

After reading some of the examples above, maybe we should pay closer attention to our titles and throw them out there for opinions other than our own.

What do you think?

In 2015 I dusted off a manuscript from 2010, a story which I’ve always thought of as The Perfect Silence of the Night. One night as I was creating in my head instead of sleeping, I had another title pop up (fired by Michael di Gesu’s blurb). So my paranormal romance which I self-published for Halloween last year (having not submitted it to any traditional publishers—maybe next time), has the new title—Under the Tuscan Moon. And I couldn’t be happier!

Now I'm pondering the title for my contemporary women's fiction/chick lit/women's fiction...whatever...

My working title has always been Carpe Diem. Then I began thinking, maybe not everyone knows that Latin saying...maybe they'll think it's about a special Catholic mass. Then I thought of adding Art and Love in Paris (the hero is an artistas a sub-title to replace Paris Never Leaves You. Then I thought of The Art of Loving in Paris, then decided that could be mistaken for porno or erotica. Hmm. Tricky things, titles.

I know you've got better things to do, but if you have a suggestion for my title, I hope you'll leave it in the comments.

I'm curious. Have you ever changed your book title? Had to run with one your publisher chose and you hated? Please tell us...

Thanks for stopping by. Would you believe blogspot had a glitch and I had to write this twice, so if it doesn't altogether make sense, that's because who likes to write a blog post twice? I mean, I'd rather be pondering how many shades of blue there are in the Pacific Ocean.



The October Write...Edit...Publish challenge is looming! There is a choice of themes: CONSTELLATIONS or HALLOWEEN, or if you're very, very clever, a combination of both! So get your little sci-fi, fantasy or horror brains around the next challenge. Linky goes up October 1! Should be a double hoot!










43 comments:

  1. I think that title and subtitle work.
    My publisher came up with the titles for my second and third books. I had no clue what to call them so I was definitely open to suggestion.

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    1. I think my examples show that usually, publishers know best. Your titles are awesome!

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  2. Hi Denise ... An Artist's Love ... the Eiffel Tower will let us know re the setting ... but I quite agree with you and Alex ... just so difficult to dream up the right words ...

    Good luck ... and I love your couch with the Pacific blue to look at ... cheers and enjoy your Spring .. Hilary

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Hilary. So many possibilities!

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  3. Hope you're enjoying your holiday, Denise. I agree with Hilary and love your couch setting.

    Here's a go at a title ... Seizing Paris in Love ... good luck finding a title you like.

    Thoughts in Progress
    and MC Book Tours

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    1. It's been great, thanks, Mason. Thanks so much for your title suggestion! I think on it!

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  4. I would have no problem changing the title. I mean these folks know what they are doing. I say that and then they come back with something cheesy and I'll be sad. LOL

    I don't have any suggestions. Do you have a blurb for the book somewhere?

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    1. I do have a blurb. Maybe I'll drag it out for the 'name the book' contest!

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  5. I like Carpe Diem and the subtitle. The people who are likely to read it are also likely to know the meaning too.

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    1. Thanks Jo. I'd like to have Carpe Diem in it.

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  6. I'm so envious you get to loll on the beach in lovely weather (I agree summer is dreadful and thank goodness we're almost out of it!!!), but I'm very happy for you. Love that beautiful blue photo. As for titles ... I'm terrible with this. My memoir In the Memoir was first (my working title) Choices. Then the publisher came up with In the Mirror Alone. I didn't like the alone, so they dropped that, and then THEY came up with the subtitle A Memoir of Shattered Secrets. So I bow to publishers who (mostly) know what will sell. Your Under the Tuscan Moon is the ultimate perfect title. As for Carpe Diem, I do like your subtitle, but I'll be waiting expectantly to see what you or someone else comes up with :) (p.s. I know you're on vacation but I just finally published a post that contains two amazing poems that I know you'll LOVE - I'm back to WP, it's simply my favorite, but will be posting the first paragraph on Blogger ... I just can't give up writing posts/blogging etc. (sigh) this is really an old-life crisis!) ((( ))) from me and Jen

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    1. Ah, Ann, at least you're having fun! I hope! I remember something about your memoir title. I think what they came up with was excellent.

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    2. I think I'm learning a bit to have fun. And it's always a pleasure aka fun and perks me up when you comment on my post. Which comment I read this morning where you say you're thinking of posting more poetry. I'm going to do this also. GOOD poetry is so awesome. As for aides being good to us ... problem is so many of them lately just disappear, a few from health issues they're not up front with us about. It's the home care system here (not Jen's fault I keep telling her!). If only we could move to Australia ... but then, is the grass really greener on the other side (???) Hope you're having a wonderful relaxing week. ((( )))

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  7. I agree, titles are very important. There should be something in the title that evokes the essence of the story. Suggestion: 'Paris, My Heart'. Hope you find a title that you like. You could have a 'name my book' contest. . .I love the look of that deck - suits me, too.

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    1. Thanks D.G. for your suggestions! What a novel idea for a contest!

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  8. Hemingway was notorious for picking horrible titles for his books. Fortunately, he was okay with changing them too. Because his books have such evocative titles, it makes you want to read them.

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    1. Titles aren't everyone's forte. Hem's titles definitely lure me in.

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  9. Enjoy the beach.

    I like the title. I think most people will get it. DG's suggestion is actually a good one - stage a contest.

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  10. My book THE EIGHTH DAY was originally titled GRUNSDAY. The publisher wanted the change, and I was perfectly happy with it.

    WE HEAR THE DEAD was originally called HIGH SPIRITS. That publisher rejected the title but expected me to come up with a replacement. I sent them about 12 titles -- took me forever to come up with them. They rejected all those, too.

    Eventually, I said to my fifth grade class, "Anybody have any suggestions for a new title for my book?"

    One of my students said, "How about WE CAN HEAR THE DEAD?" I removed one word -- and the marketing department loved it. :)

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    1. What a fantastic story, Dianne. Love it. Out of the mouths of children!

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  11. I am open to suggestions with my titles. I feel that the editors of the past were a bit more insightful than the ones today who are slaves to the current hot thing.

    An author who had written a big selling book, THE KEEP (the movie was terrible!) submitted his second book with the name of the monster as the title (It would have been terrible as a title). The publisher changed it to THE TOMB. The author, a physician, said, "But there's no tomb in my book!" He was told that by the time readers realized that, they would have already bought the book -- which was loved by Stephen King, by the way -- who formed the Repairman Jack Fan Club (the hero's nickname.) But the doctor was so disenchanted with the experience, he threw away the notoriety of King's generous move by not writing another Repairman Jack novel for 10 years, wasting a golden opportunity!

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    1. Oh, what a shame to have that reaction. I don't think we can afford to be too precious with our titles!

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  12. Titles can make or break, but then if you think too much any title ever can be taken the wrong way. So meh, I stick with my first one usually. Got my wep done indeed, both topics in at my feed.

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  13. OMG I actually have a post/poem called 'the title is the hardest part'...I agonise over titles of poems and shorts, an entire book would give me sleepless nights! :) Fortunately I've only ever been published in anthos so haven't had to wrack my brains for book titles.

    I personally think Carpe Diem is a fine title. Explain the setting through the subtitle or the cover art.

    WEP October is going to be sumptuous, just like the badges! :)

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    1. Thanks Nila. I'm looking forward to WEP too.

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  14. I'm leaning toward Nilanjana's comment here, Denise. Subtitle and cover art would be the necessary explanation - kind of like my memoir with its subtitle.

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  15. I'm absolutely hopeless with titles, so although I'm self-published (so far), I'm all for input! Going on those historical examples, it seems shorter is better on average and Carpe Diem is nice and snappy. Or you could go with the translation, Seize the Day?

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    1. I think I'd keep the original, Nick. It comes up a lot in the story.

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  16. I've never had a publisher ask me to change a story's title, but I'm only published in short stories. We'll see what happens with the novels. I would not say titles are my biggest strength.

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    1. Seems most of us are that way, Shannon.

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  17. Good grief -- it's a good thing Portnoy's Complaint didn't keep those older titles!

    Is that really your deck?! Can I come live on that day bed?

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  18. I'm not too attached to my book title, and your list shows that editors can be trusted :)

    Enjoy the beach!

    www.damyantiwrites.com

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  19. I like your choice of Art & Love in Paris. I think the word Paris generates much interest.

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  20. How about...

    Falling in Louvre
    Love on the Left Bank

    My all-time favorite title is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is pretty good, too.

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    1. Thanks for your suggestions AS. Love on the Left Bank grabs me more than Falling in Louvre. Yes, I love Hitchiker as a title too.

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  21. Wow, those were some bad titles before they got their makeovers.
    Portnoy's Complaint, Lord of the Flies, and Pride and Prejudice are much better!

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