Friday, June 30, 2023

The Angst of Finding a Great Book Title: If You, Like Me, Don't Score High at This All-Important Task, Some Tips to Try

OK, I admit. I am not the best when it comes to book titles. Occasionally, I score. But most times, in my publishing history, editors or agents have changed my proposed title. Radically.

Case in point: When my second novel was ready to be shopped to publishers, my agent emailed me with a big problem—the title. I had written the novel under the title of OUTLAWS. I loved that title because it represented all the bad-ass glory I love in women who are heroes at heart. I embedded the theme of outlaws into the story, placed it (very occasionally) in dialogue as a marker for the reader to go “Ah-ha! That’s why the title.”

But she didn’t like it. Editors would be confused, she said, thinking it was a Western. Which it most certainly is not. It’s about an indie musician on the run from a murder-frameup and her estranged sister who has to hide her, against her better nature. Both women are pilots. My mom was a pilot, and she had a little of that free spirit I imagined for these two characters. So OUTLAWS was a tongue=in-cheek, rather brilliant way, of alluding to that heroic nature.

Thelma and Louise. Butch Cassidy. Society’s outcasts who win our hearts. Right?

My agent wasn’t having it.