Thursday, February 4, 2010

Book Title: Our First Impression

Okay, so I’m starting with the cover sheet and analyzing everything about my work in progress. Guess what I’ve learned so far: I chose the wrong title. I came to that conclusion a good while ago—I was never completely happy with it— but today confirmation hit me square in the face. I walked into the library and there on the shelf, eye-level, was a book called Miranda’s Big Mistake. I can’t tell you what a turn-off it was. Not because the book is huge—488 pages—but because my gut feeling was that the book was too big for its title.

My book is called Miranda’s Mistake. A puny little thing compared to MBM.

I think both titles sound like children’s books or stories. Remember, we’re judging the book by its title here—that first impression.

Don’t say titles don’t matter because the publisher will change it anyway—I know that. Silhouette Romance changed my title from Love You Tender to The Groom Wore Blue Suede Shoes. Talk about crowding the bookmark! But that’s another story.

Titles are supposed to be our first hint of what’s inside those pages. Right? Shouldn’t we take more care in choosing them? Can they tell too much? Too little? Be 100% wrong for the story?

Miranda’s Big Mistake by Jill Mansell is funny-laugh-out-loud, and tear-jerkingly sad…” Yes, that’s what it says on the cover, and I have no doubt it’s true. Most of the Amazon reviewers agree. But get this: one reviewer wrote: “The worst part of this book is the title.”

Hey! I knew that from first glance.

If you want to read Miranda's Big Mistake by Jill Mansell and laugh out loud, go HERE to order it. And if you want to "meet" Jill and read a great interview with her, go HERE.(A little aside: Obviously, author Jill and I have much in common. I assume she likes the name Miranda and we both love Mama Mia and the fact that the guys can't sing. I could watch and listen to Pierce B. over and over and over again.)

Okay…back to business: let me hear what you have to say about choosing a title for your work in progress. Do you like short ones? Long ones? Do you change it by the time you get to the end of the book? Or Google to see if someone has the title already? Do you even care? I’m all eyes and ears here. Talk to me.

In the meantime, I'm going to put my revising away and curl up with Miranda's Big Mistake to see if the book really is too big for the title. :-) If the reviews are true, you'll hear me laughing.


Erica Vetsch said...

I am a big fan of alliteration in titles, as you can guess by some of mine: The Bartered Bride, Maggie and the Maverick.

I also like unusual titles, like Sarah Graves's The Dead Cat Bounce.

And I love Dick Francis's titles that always have something to do with racing, but always have a double meaning to the story. Part of the fun is figuring out the link. Dead Heat is about a chef, Second Wind is about a meteorologist, Shattered is about a glassblower. Fun stuff. :)

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

My titles usually come along sometime during writing the story and so far, only 1 has been changed - A Hero for Jessica started out as "Rosalie's Wish" but since Rosalie is the hero's mother and revisions took the focus off her wish (for him to settle down and give her lots of grandchildren) and more on the H/H I had to search for a title.

Agonizing LOL!

A Hero for Jessica worked best.

Great thinking Jess! Just let the story flow and the title will come to you.

Peggy C. said...

The title for my book being published (I wish they'd hurry with that.) came from a line in the book and the publisher kept it as the title. The book I am working on now came from the same thing but from more of the irony that it contains. It came to me midwriting. And by the way, I hate that they change titles. It's like changing the name of one of your children.