Monday, 25 January 2010

Working Titles

Coming up with titles is so difficult.  Adultery for Beginners is the only book that picked up its final title early on in the writing process.  Since then it's usually the final stage in the process of writing and involves me suggesting long lists of titles to my editor, and her sweetly commenting that she thinks I'm not quite there yet.  

So the books are actually written using a working title.  It's ended up that I use something that makes me laugh and feel positive about the book whenever I see the title:  

Nice Girls Do was written as A Single Girl's Guide to Hedging and Ditching.
Another Woman's Husband was The Sex Life of Hamsters
A Single to Rome was Thirty Eight Bonks
Kissing Mr Wrong was Sexgod and Love Bunny

At the moment the new book is under a file marked Questbook, but I really think that's going to have to change.  


Blossom said...

I like books with quirky titles. I specifically chose The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society and A short History of Tractors in Ukrainian because of their titles. They didn't disappoint.

How much say do publishers have in a book's title?

Sarah Duncan said...

Pretty much 100% - if they don't like it, you have to find something else. Sometimes what they like, you don't. I wanted Another Woman's Husband to be Another Man's Wife, which IMO is a darn sight snappier but sales and marketing preferred AWH.

Ages ago the professor on the MA told me that he'd conceded to the publishers that the title for his novel about the Faulklands war should be Swansong, and not Songs for Yomping. He reckoned sales were poor directly as a result, and I think he was probably right. After all, to me yomping says Faulklands, Swansong makes me think of ballerinas!

I like quirky titles too.

Blossom said...

So it's not even editors changing titles, but sales and marketing! You're right, AMW is a lot snappier, and easier to say.

Yomping says the Falklands immediately and is unique to that conflict. I'm mixing up Swansong with Goose Green!