Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Libby had a great post a couple of weeks ago, What Makes you Pull a Book of the Shelf? which was very apropos for me. I'm knee deep in a new novel but I can't think of a good title. That annoys me and I find myself easily sidetracked, unable to concentrate on the "meat" of my writing because I can't think of a wrapping.

Because for me, my best books usually have titles that come easily-- like The Year of the Dog. They match perfectly and come to me effortlessly. Other books, however, are named by default-- in the end given titles that are just simply adequate because I couldn't think of anything better; and those books have somehow always fallen flat. In general, title difficulty = bookselling difficulty.

So, with this experience in mind, I am a bit worried about my new book. I'm trying really hard not to let it have a "default" title-- I'm so desperate that I've taken to testing all the candidates at the titlescorer. I haven't yet hit one that has more than a 41.4% chance of being a bestseller. I think I'm going to need better odds than that.


Barbara O'Connor said...

Boy, can I relate to this! I can't even BEGIN writing a novel until I have the perfect title. It's just such an intrinsic part of the story for me. I like your phrase "the wrapping."

I wrote a post about it at:

I love that titlescorer. (But How to Steal a Dog only scored 22.9%. Hmmph)

Anonymous said...

Take heart. Patricia Wrede was writing a series about Dragons (Enchanted forest series), all of which were to have Dragons in the title. About the middle of the group, she wrote one with the working title of "Bowling for Dragons."

(It may have ended up being titled either Searching for Dragons or Calling on Dragons. Jane Yolen would know for sure, if she reads this BLOG, she edited the series.) (or ask Pat)

In my own case, I've found the editors always change the title anyway, so it's not good (for me) to get too attached to any one title.

-librarian, writer, mom

Anonymous said...

i am awful at titles and am dismayed to hear that title issues have lead to selling issues. ugh. there should be some kind of tutorial for coming up with titles when you have no inspiration to do so

as an aside i wanted to tell you how much my kids love LISSY! it is one of their top reading requests and at this point i have the entire story memorized- good thing i like it too!