Saturday, August 16, 2008

Book Title Reminder

I know I already covered this, but time for a reminder.

The closer I get to the end of my book, the more I realize that the title reveals itself... sorta kinda maybe. I guess a more accurate statement would be that the wrong titles become more obvious and the right ones emerge from your text.

For example, early on in my writing process, I was convinced that I had the perfect title for my book. It was just so cool, it had to be right. I ignored the fact that my wife did not care for it (first mistake), and I generally fell in love with the title (my fatal mistake).

Remember this. Highlight it. Put it on the refrigerator.

Never fall in love with an idea to the exclusion of objective logic. In other words, be willing to take the axe to anything and everything about your story, including the "perfect title," to make the book better.

When you start editing the book, you will be a surgeon, cutting out the cancer and tumors that burden the good body. How much more important is the title?

The title is the first, and maybe only, marketing that most people will see since your book's spine will most likely be all that book browsers will see on the shelf. The cover art is important, but I believe the title is even more crucial. Here comes the tough part. I have said it before and I will say it again.

You must turn off the artist and turn on the marketing guru within, assuming you want to sell books to more than friends and family. And unlike editing, which I think should not start until the end of the first draft, I think you should revisit the idea of your book's title throughout the writing process.

Why? You will have different ideas as you write different parts of the book. What I do is list them all in a Word document and bold all the ones that seem like the best possibilities. I prioritize the list in order based on my current preferences.

When I finish the book, I will have a great head start on choosing a title. Right now, I have about fifty possibilities, ten I consider good possibilities. Why hold the other forty? They may help me come up with another great title idea, a different take on a title that did not quite work. Start now on your list, if you have not already, and you will have a head start when you finish your book. At the very least, you will have a good list of words that summarize your story. That is a good beginning.

Then, after taking a break on the list, get back to writing!


Inez said...

haha! i like the idea of having a title and yet being flexible. I know of some writers who are so constrained by their titles, and then start complaining - and are sometimes unaware that they are causing their own problems. Are you joining National Novel Writing Month this year, by the way?

J Hugh Thomas said...

I am seriously considering writing a book during November with the NNWM. Keep reading and I'll post more soon.

Rachel Everdene said...

Thanks for linking me! I'll link back to you, too. I hope you join NaNoWriMo! Good luck!