Monday, January 25, 2010

Titler's Remorse?

Recently, I discovered that Stefan Petrucha's YA novel Split is coming out from Walker books one week after my Split is being released.  Other than screaming out for a database of some kind with in the publishing industry (which would, understandably fall on ears that are listening more and more for the chink of change in the bank than an expense like this), I just have to laugh.

Making me chuckle even harder was the extent of my title hunt.  When Gravediggers was rejected as a title from my publisher (and rightly so as it sounds too paranormal for my book and sends the wrong message), I began a serious title hunt.  Of all the changes my editor suggested, the title was probably the most difficult.  And it made me a little crazy.

Over 200 titles came up and got knocked down.  I must have shown my editor around a dozen.  With the marketing department's help, we narrowed it down to two: "What We Leave" and "Split".  We chose Split because we thought that it was punchier and better represented difficult subject matter.  And because, when I polled all the writers who read created of writers I know Split came up as a better title 8-2.

What makes titling so hard?  Well, first, a title must accurately represent your book in terms of the subgenre and the market.  Do you think any teen would pick up a book if it was titled Lily and Busy Bunnies?  Me neither.

In addition, a title points the reader to something important about the book.  It functions like an arrow in the text, saying hey reader, look here!  When I titled Split, I searched the ms for the word and had to remove it from a spot where it was used casually.

And then, it should act kind of like a line of poetry.  They should have rhythm and meter, if you're going for the long titles, like The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing.  Or impact when you're going for one-worders.  Like Patricia McCormick's Sold or Cut.

A title is your first impression.  Make it a good one.

So, do I have title remorse?  Not really.  I'm sure it will cause some confusion, but to paraphrase a Children's Literature Network representative, that just means that people will have to talk about both books a little more. Yep, there are worse things.


  1. Ahahaha. Oh, poor you. I still like Gravediggers, but hopefully your Split will be the one everyone remembers.

    Although you do realise that the world now needs an ironic, bestselling YA book called Lily and Busy Bunnies?

  2. Lily and the Busy Bunnies was a joke title that my husband suggested after we'd been looking at titles for hours. So, I just had to use it somewhere. Did you click on the "extra line" link? You'll like it.