Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Naming the Baby

by Stephanie Black

When it comes to choosing titles, publishers have the final say. This is fine with me, for a couple of reasons. First, I sometimes have a hard time coming up with even a decent working title for a manuscript. Second, my publisher, Covenant Communications, is generally excellent at titles, so I have a great deal of confidence in them. It’s exciting to wonder what the title of a new book will be. I think the title committee must have magical powers. I look at the excellent titles they come up with and think, “How do they do that?” Maybe I have a very mundane (the word of the week, right, Jeff?) brain when it comes to brainstorming titles. I can think of words or phrases that have to do with the story, but my brain doesn’t often take flight into cleverness or catchiness. (Though I’d like to report that I suggested “Got oil?” as a catchy phrase to write on the invitations to our upcoming Young Women in Excellence meeting, where the Parable of the Ten Virgins will be a focus. Cute, huh? Okay, so maybe it sounds like a slogan for Jiffy Lube, but I’m still kind of pleased with myself).

A good title is a delightful thing. A couple of titles I find particularly effective are the titles of Kerry Blair's Samantha Shade mysteries--Mummy’s the Word and Ghost of a Chance. So fun, and so perfect for the fresh, clever mysteries they represent. I think Sonia O’Brien’s new release, Epicenter, has a good title. It's punchy. Suspenseful. Betsy Brannon Green’s Above and Beyond--great follow-up title to the first book in the series, Hazardous Duty. Gregg Luke’s Do No Harm—great title for a medical thriller. James Dashner’s 13th Reality: Journal of Curious Letters. Intriguing title for a youth fantasy novel. Josi Kilpack’s Her Good Name—that has a nice ring to it.

Some titles make the genre or topic of the book very clear. If you see a title like The Cereal Murders or Dying for Chocolate (both mysteries by Diane Mott Davidson) and you can pretty well guess that these are light mysteries involving food. Anna Buttimore Jones’ Easterfield--can't you just see the women in 19th century dress and taste the romance in the air?

Some titles don't make genre quite as clear--unless you see the cover of the book or the name of the author. The titles Let Me Call You Sweetheart or Loves Music, Loves to Dance aren’t exactly dripping menace—until you see Mary Higgins Clark’s name on the cover, and words that would have been friendly and fun in any other context instantly become creepy. Stephen King’s publisher could call one of his books Puppies and Sunshine and everyone would shudder (what’s going to happen to those poor puppies?).

I was excited to hear from my editor about the title they are considering for my new manuscript. I already figured they wouldn’t go with the working title, Picture Perfect (thanks again, Melanie J.!) since when I was up at Seagull Book not too long ago, what should I see on the bookstore shelf but a book Covenant published a while back entitled . . . Picture Perfect. Instead, it looks like the title will be The Devil You Know. I'm happy. I find the title pleasingly creepy, which suits the book (though I would like to assure romance fans that this book does have kissing in it :)


At 11/12/2008 2:38 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

I love that title! Very creepy indeed ;)

At 11/12/2008 3:01 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

Stephanie, you forgot to add "The Nephite Who Loved Me" as one of the totally awesome titles. ;)

But I do like the new title! Congrats!

At 11/12/2008 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

YAY! It has kissing and a mystery! My two favorite things!

I love the title Stephanie. I can't wait to read it.

Julie (who is too lazy to log in today)

At 11/12/2008 4:23 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

Oh, I love that title! That's incredibly creepy and I can't wait to read it.

Man, you're going to give me puppy nightmares now ....

At 11/12/2008 5:15 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

Titles are brutal to come up with. I'm so glad the marketing department is so good at them. You've got another GREAT one!

At 11/13/2008 12:52 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Thank you for the comments! I'm excited that y'all like the title!

Sariah, you're so right--how could I have neglected to list The Nephite Who Loved Me? That's definitely a classic title!

At 11/16/2008 4:29 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

Cool title. Do we have an expected release date?

At 11/17/2008 9:53 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

It's scheduled for August 2009.


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