According to Romeo, it's not the name that matters, but the person it identifies. That may be true for people in plays, but what about books? Does a particular title turn you on or off about a book? While we're admonished against judging a book by its cover, do we instead judge by its title?
I'm going to venture Yes on this one. In my experience, I've had two publishers who haven't liked my titles and asked me to change them or made suggestions that were either mundane or spoilery and I had to politely reject their suggestions while wracking my brain for a better on. For example, my novel originally called PROJECT RUNAWAY needed to be renamed so people wouldn't think it had anything to do with the TV show. It went through iterations of RUNAWAY GROOM and THE WEDDING WRECKER until eventually I hit upon SEX, LIES & WEDDING BELLS and they liked it. I admit, it's definitely my favorite and I'm still amazed I managed to come up with it. Which title does the most for you?
My upcoming release VENUS ENVY is in fact a m/m story, but my publisher was concerned the title might make people think it's a het story. Since it's a tale of Venus exacting revenge on a man who refuses her, it was a perfect title. The publisher decided to go with it in the end, and we'll see whether or not I made the right decision. (By the way, Storm Grant came up with that title for me. She's a title genius!)
As you can see, I'm not one who enjoys the process of finding a title. To make matters worse, I've realized that I need to come up with several in case the first one isn't to the publisher's liking. Recently, I found a fun solution to this problem by having a contest. I asked my readers to suggest titles, chose my favorite 10 and let people vote on which ones they liked the most. It was a huge success. I had over 50 entries and had just as many people voting. I ended up with some fantastic titles, far cleverer than anything I came up with on my own. Thus, BEDKNOBS & BEANSTALKS was born. Check out the other wonderful entries.
There was a slight downside to what seemed a huge success. I had a few comments that implied I wasn't doing my writerly duty in coming up with a title by asking others to do my work for me. Considering my lack of imagination and the amount of fun the contest entrants and votes had, I think the end result justified any "lack" on my part. Not only did I get a better title, but I got a lot of readers interested and excited about the book, and best of all, they felt they had a part in creating it. What's not to like about that?
Back to the original question: how does a book's title influence you? What are some of your own experiences and examples of retitling? How about a book that you would run a mile from just because of the title? Have you heard a title that made you want the book immediately?
And please check out my latest release: PUBLIC EXPOSURE (formerly titled something completely different!) How does that title grab you?
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