Friday, May 18, 2018

Titling Purgatory

Titling novels is a magic I do not possess. My stories are all filed under the character names. Even after they're published.

I swear to you, there is this paranormal historical thing I did last year - finished it. Subbed it. Got the rejection letter. There's a series name. But the book title? The manuscript went out without a title because I got nothing. I think it said Book 1 of Artifacts of the Aegean. The file folder still says 'Sinclair', which is the hero's name. Now granted. The book has a few fatal flaws that have to be corrected before it sees the light of day again. Maybe it'll find its title somewhere in that process. But this is me. Not holding my breath.

Yes. I did come up with the title for Enemy Within. Don't ask me how or why that title volunteered. It did and attached itself to that story. Berkley's marketing folks didn't like it, though. So we went through the titling motions, which look like this:

  1. Email from your agent saying 'marketing would like a list of title options.'
  2. You cry.
  3. You call your friends, beta readers and anyone who is tangentially aware of the story being a thing that exists to ask for suggestions.
  4. You try to come up with a list of 20 title options.
  5. You fail at number 8.
  6. Your TRUE friends get on line with you and in a chat window, they throw out title suggestions based on your characters, the theme(s) in the story, and/or whatever black magic happens on their sides of the chat windows.
  7. You email your list of 20 to your agent, who forwards it on to the editor.
The marketing team then picks one of your title suggestions or comes up with one of their own. Or. In the case of Enemy Within, the editor comes back saying 'we're sticking with the original title because no one could come up with anything better.' 


Makes it easy for the rest of the series, though. All of the titles will be Enemy something. That doesn't help my poor, forlorn historical paranormal weird series, though. And I somehow don't think my chances of getting better at titles are very good. My stories start with characters, not concepts, and I tell myself that the people who are good with titles are the concept people. Please don't shatter my illusions.