I have a confession to make: I’m terrible at coming up with titles for my books.
It’s true. One of the novella’s on my harddrive is called “Death Story”. (It’ll change before the book gets published.) The novel I’m working on now is called “Trees”. Very inventive. (Not really.)
And the title for my book that’s coming out from Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster in June, WAKE, was not my idea.
That novel has actually been through many names since I started writing it back in 2010. The folder that’s the book’s home on my computer is still labeled for the original title I gave the book. I can’t tell you what it is (it’s a bit of a spoiler), but it was just the first of a string of not-great titles the novel has had over the years.
Book titles are funny, amazing things. With just a few words–or even one–they have to sum up, intrigue, convey tone, invite readers and fit the audience. They also have to work with the artwork of the book, and preferably not also be the title of a heap of other books that will come up first in an online search.
People who are really good at thinking up titles can brainstorm images, play off quotes, pull out a poignant phrase that achieves everything above. For example, one of my favorite titles from the books out this year is INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS. This title for Dusti Bowling‘s book about an amazing girl who has no arms is from a line in the novel itself, but it perfectly sets the stage for this funny and heart-warming story.
WAKE was the title my novel carried when it was picked up by my agent and when it sold to my editor. It’s a good title and has a dual meaning within the story that’s a lot of fun. My editor liked it enough that they announced the sale with the title, and it’s called WAKE now on Goodreads.
But even though I liked that title a lot, it never felt quite right for me. WAKE didn’t quite give the feeling I wanted for this book.
Of course, I also couldn’t think of anything better.
This, however, is one of the reasons I LOVE my editor, Sarah Jane Abbott, and the rest of the Paula Wiseman Books team, editors Paula Wiseman and Sylvie Frank. I told them my concerns about the title, admitted my shortcomings in this area, and they got to work. Sitting around a table, they brainstormed and came up with a title that to me is so perfect. It sums up without giving anything away, it intrigues without being too vague, and–best of all in my opinion–it has a rhythm that’s reminiscent of one of my favorite childhood books of all time.
Want to know what it is?
Of course, you do.
Drum roll, please…
My novel WAKE is now called…
THE BOY, THE BOAT & THE BEAST.
I know you haven’t read the book yet (you’ll get your chance next year–and in the meantime, join my enewsletter for news and giveaways closer to publication), but when you do, I hope you’ll think this title is as perfect as I do for this story.
What do you think? Are you intrigued? Want to read more? Feel drawn in? I hope so.
Can’t wait to read it, Sam.
Thanks, Judi! 🙂
Yes! An enticing title indeed, Samantha. Congratulations from across the Pacific! 🤗
Thank you, Sheryl!
I like the new title a lot! The alliteration gives it that extra something that makes it very intriguing . Can’t wait to read it!
Oooh–very alluring title!