Choosing a book title is such a momentous decision! Sometimes it takes brainstorming sessions over months or years. Even then, even at what seems like the last minute, book titles are often changed or tweaked by publishers. It happens all the time for the purpose of sales or marketing. There are even title trends to take into consideration—Girl, Night, Wife, Other, Light, Darkness—as well. If it ain’t broke…as they say.
The titles of my first three novels are plays on words. Not everyone realizes it until they read the books! (And sometimes not even then.) But it was not always easy to create them.
The easy one
I’d written so many versions of my debut novel that it had a million (okay, maybe five) titles. The one I settled on, as I worked with my first literary agent to get the book ready for publishing, was The Glass House. Then one day in the summer of 2011, seven years ago, I was polishing up the novel and revised a sentence to include the phrase “the Glass wives.” At that moment I knew! THAT was the title and THE GLASS WIVES was born. I emailed my agent and the title stuck all the way through the publishing process.
The problem child
My second novel was my problem child. It sold to St. Martin’s Press as Falling Into Place and right from the start I was told that wouldn’t be the title. I was okay with that—and sent lists and lists of titles over the course of a year. The title was the last thing to be finalized with that novel. I wanted a long title (I love those). My editor wanted to include a buzzword—and “GOOD” fit the bill. She also wanted it to be similar to THE GLASS WIVES. Bingo. THE GOOD NEIGHBOR!
I had to go back into the novel and revise the book so that the title worked. Sounds kind of backwards, doesn’t it? But it worked.
Titles can’t be copyrighted. That’s why you’ll see different books with the same title—there’s nothing you can do about that! (It caused some confusion with this book, but it went on to be popular with my readers!)
And yes, THE GOOD NEIGHBOR is a play on words.
Someone else’s idea
Finally, LEFT TO CHANCE. When I wrote this book, I had NO WORKABLE TITLE. That was really hard for me. I’d just as soon call it Book #3 as I would call my daughter Child #2. Then, my agent came up with LEFT TO CHANCE—which has multiple meanings of course—during one of our many brainstorming sessions. I take no credit, except for connecting with my fabulous second literary agent back in 2014.
I love clever titles—ones that fit just right. Don’t you?
Any Title Tales of your own to share? Let’s chat about it on the Career Authors Facebook page.
Amy Sue Nathan is the author of Left to Chance, The Good Neighbor, and The Glass Wives. She is also the founder of The Women’s Fiction Writers blog, named a Best Website for Writers four years in a row by Writer’s Digest. Amy’s essays and articles have been widelypublished in print and online, including The Chicago Tribune, Writer’s Digest, Psychology Today, YourTango and Huffington Post. She is a frequent speaker and workshop presenter, a member of Tall Poppy Writers, and has been a freelance book coach and editor since 2009. Her fourth novel will be published in 2020. Amy lives near Philadelphia, is the mom of two grown children, and the servant to one geriatric dog. You can connect with her just about everywhere online @AmySueNathan.