Monday, October 26, 2009

Name That Book

Every aspiring author is urged to use a working title for their book. Lately, I've been noticing titles often reflect some interesting line in the book that captures the essence of the story. Christina Berry's book started life as, "Undiscovered," but was changed to, "A Familiar Stranger." Other authors have reported similar experiences.

The working title for my book is, "Echoes of the Past." This resulted from a trip to Gettysburg eight months before I began pounding the keys. Gettysburg's town square is quite old. Cars whizzed around the square in a strange juxtaposition to history, and I sensed the echoes of the forefathers voices fading away. When we got home, I tried to write a poem, an article, something, but could not get it down on paper. It needed time to simmer on the backburner of both my heart and brain.

One day, Beloved and I were talking about "the Gettysburg experience," and he jumped up. "That's it. That's your book, and you'll call it Ghosts of the Past, and you'll have the first draft done by December." I caught his excitement and changed the title to, "Echoes of the Past."

At a recent writers conference, I asked an author about the title, and said I was thinking about changing it to, "The Moses Conspiracy." She thought it was a lot more powerful than the original. So, I will be changing it as part of this edit. I don't know if either of these names will stick, but for now they inspire me.

How do you come up with your titles? Is it a struggle? Do you brainstorm with a critique partner or writers' group?

30 comments:

Jessica said...

There's usually a title that sticks to my brain and I use that, but I know that my titles aren't really going to stay because they're not too saleable. LOL

Good switch on yours!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

As I read books, I'll often pick up on some significant phrase that became the title. Maybe we should look for those phrases in our own manuscripts and use one as a title.

If we think like a marketing manager, we might have a better chance of hanging onto our original title.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Titles kill me. I usually start writing and just wait for the title to come somewhere in the middle. Thankfully they do come--even if they are a bit delayed!

Cindy said...

I like The Moses Conspiracy, it does have power.

Coming up with titles for me is always a challenge. With the one I'm working on for NaNo I drew the title from a theme in the book, which ended up giving something relatively interesting--good because I like to have the title before I start working on the story.

But usually I try to draw from the story and it's hard to find something that doesn't sound cliche or not very catchy.

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Sometimes I think writing the title is as difficult as writing the story! Often a title will grab me, but I don't fret about it because I know most of the time the editor will edit it or change it!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kristen -

I'm having the same problem with my current work in progress. I have an idea, but I'm not sure it will stick - Fading Freedom. We'll see what happens.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Cindy -

Thanks. I'm pretty set on that title for now. As I said to Kristen, the title for my new manuscript is still up in the air.

Thanks for sharing your method. It helps to draw from the experience of others.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Donna -

I agree that fretting won't help matters. Even though the title will probably be changed, I think it can catch an agent or editor's attention.

I wonder if anyone knows of an author, who did not have their title changed. Interesting thought.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Becky Lange said...

In my little bit of experience I've found that titles are tough! I am always looking for something new, something that captures the essence with a words or words that might not be the norm. I love choosing titles because it gives me a delicious sense of ownership over the work. Best wishes for your future title adventures!

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Couldn't find your email address so I'm leaving a comment.

Thanks for your comments on my post today. Sounds like you got a bunch of blessings today! Hope all your days are this wonderful!

quietspirit said...

Susan:
All I have read tells me to think of a 'working title' because more than likely the editor will change it.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Becky -

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. For me, selecting a title is right up there with the elevator pitch in terms of difficulty.

I agree. Having a title gives a sense of ownership, as well as giving the manuscript its own identity.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Donna -

How sweet of you to write! For future reference, my email is
susanjreinhardt (at) gmail (dot) com.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Quiet Spirit -

Yes, I've heard that also.

I find editors change the titles on my devotionals and short stories. So, it's not limited to books. I've been happy with most of the changes, but shrugged off disappointment with others.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Lily Robinson said...

I have more titles than ideas! If I think up something that sounds like a great title, I add to to my list... Someday I'll think of a book to go with it. ;)

Terri Tiffany said...

I love te Moses Conspiracy cause right away it tells me there will be intrigue and suspense!
I hate thinking of titles! I have changed mine so many times. I need to figure out how to do them better. BTW, that agent asked me for a full after all the back and forth. Not sure what to do now as he wants it as a romance.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Susan: I love titles, especially if they are catchy and play on words. I like The Moses Conspiracy better than Echoes of the Past, too. It's intriguing.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Lily -

At least you'll be ready when that book idea hits you! Maybe you can help other writers with their titles. You can start a whole new business - Book Titles for Sale. :)

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

Thanks for the thumbs up on my book title. :)

I've had agents say they liked my writing, but wanted a romance or an Amish novel. They were asking me to write a completely different book.

I tried a romance, but it's not my genre (at least not at this time). Besides, I don't want to get locked into that genre. Writing in multiple genres is tricky.

I pray the Lord will give you wisdom and direction concerning your book.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jen -

An author at the Philly Conference said Echoes of the Past sounded more like a romance than a suspense novel.

Wouldn't it be funny if I called it, "The Moses Conspiracy" and then an editor changed it to, "Echoes of the Past?" That phrase does appear in the manuscript.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Titles either come in an instant for me, or take me forever to find. I have no idea why. Sometimes I end up picking a line from the story as my title.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Eileen -

I think picking a line from the manuscript is your best bet. Editors seem to use that method a lot.

Thanks for stopping in and commenting. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Jody Hedlund said...

Funny you should post about this Susan! My editor just emailed me this week and wanted a few more title ideas! My first is The Preacher's Bride. But they're actually having a Title Committee meeting this week to narrow it down to the best one possible! So my original might be changed too!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jody -

Too funny! Do you have any lines that stick out from you manuscript? We've been talking about that subject. You might find something there. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Sharon Ball said...

Susan, I love the new title that you've come up with. I've just started my second novel (still in the research and storyboard phase), but the title seemed to fall right into my lap. It's nice when that happens and I don't have to kill myself trying to come up with something.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sharon -

Thanks. Everyone seems to approve of the new title for Book 1. I have a tentative one selected for Book 2, but I'm not totally satisfied with it: Fading Freedom.

I see you're a plotter. I sure tried, but it cramped my brain. LOL!

Blessings,
Susan :)

Maria I. Morgan said...

As a devotional writer, titles usually come from the analogies I draw from life and God's Word. A couple times I've used a play on words for article titles.

I like your current title choice, The Moses Conspiracy. Look forward to reading the book!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Maria -

I also write devotionals and draw the title from the analogy. Even then, I've had editors change the title.

Thanks for the vote on my title. :)

Blessings,
Susan

Christina Berry said...

Thought I'd chime in a little late on this one--Moody changed the title from "Undiscovered" to "The Familiar Stranger" even before I officially signed the contract. But I love to see titles appear in the text of the book because it seems that the passage of context brings so much more understanding.

So what was I to do? Well, I wrote it in during a scene that represents the entire struggle of the book! :) Thanks for bringing this up ... I'm working on my next title.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Christina -

Thanks for giving us a look behind the scenes with your title. I never thought of adding the title into the text after the change. Very cool.

Blessings,
Susan :)