What’s in a name? My title saga . . .

A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but a name makes a significance difference for a book.

A book’s title must be intriguing, grab a potential reader and stand out from the thousands of competitors. It must provide an essence of the genre and the pages contained within.

I swear, titling my novel was more difficult than writing it.  One person expressed to me that titling a book is as stressful as naming a child.  Frankly, we had an easier time naming our kids.

I fretted over the title before I queried publishers and eventually settled on Apricot Seeds and Wolfsbane. I liked the poetic essence and juxtaposition between a common item (an apricot) and a more commonly known poison (wolfsbane). The two items are also significant to the plot.

However, a few weeks ago, my publisher (Filles Vertes Publishing) suggested I should shorten the title. I love my editors (Myra Fiacco and C.L. Rose) and respect their expertise. Working with professionals is certainly one huge advantage over self-publishing and I felt ignoring their advice would be foolish. I understand a shorter title can be more catchy and I do think they look better on a book spine.

Shorten the title. That can’t be so hard.

Except that I’m an engineer by trade . . .

In this light, their simple suggestion kicked off weeks of brainstorming, research and data collection. And since a perfect title cannot be computed or derived, it was a decision I struggled with.

Google research will suggest the perfect title is three words, one of which should be a verb. But a review of the best sellers’ list shows this is clearly not the case. Those titles do not fall into a nice formula.

In my search for a title, I brainstormed over 60 different options (I wish I was joking). So often I would stumble across a potential title only to discover another book already had it. I summarized my novel with as few words as possible to help provoke thought. I developed a list of nouns and verbs relevant to my manuscript and played with combining them in various ways. As a historical fiction, I became frustrated so many succulent words just didn’t exist in 1510 England . . . (If someone ever invents a time machine, please consider going back and introducing the words “intrigue” and “sadistic” to Tudor England.)

And as an engineer, I am a fan of the moto: In God we trust, all others bring data.

I conducted three polls on social media gathering 195 responses. I analyzed the audience of the polls, comparing them to my best guess of my potential readers. I conversed with respondents to understand why they liked a specific title over the other, and so often, their responses contradicted each other.

Thank you to all who provided their opinion over the last weeks. I am also grateful to my publisher who assisted as well by conducting market research and contributing to brainstorming efforts.

A title is subjective. As much as I wish, I know I cannot appease everyone. In the end, I wanted a title I would be happy with. A title my publisher believed would help sell my book.

And so, I am pleased to say we made a final decision today. The new title of my novel is Apricots and Wolfsbane. It will release October 13, 2017.

My husband says it’s “easily the best fruit and poison title he’s heard.” I’ll take that win 🙂

2 thoughts on “What’s in a name? My title saga . . .”

  1. Well done on coming up with the magic three-word title (seldom an easy task :-)). Did you have a similar title in mind when you started writing your novel, or was it a story in search of a title from the outset?


    1. Thanks! Unfortunately, this has been a struggle for the duration of the entire project. I am grateful I very quickly came across the perfect title for my current short story WIP.

      Thank you for your comment and for visiting my site!


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