By Jeannie Watt
I just got the title for my January Super—Molly’s Mr. Wrong. I love it!
Coming up with titles is one of the hardest parts of the publishing process—for me anyway. I can only imagine what it’s like for the editors, who choose titles for many books every single month, especially considering some of the super lame titles I send in for consideration.
Here’s the process—I finish my book and feel as if I’ve just successfully run a marathon—and did well. Then I get an email reminding me to do the Art Fact Sheet and to send an alternate title list to my editor. Since my books’ working titles are along the lines of Finn’s Story or Molly’s Story, I honestly have to send in a list of possible titles. That’s when the pressure starts. Titles are important. The title imparts to the reader a sense of what the story is about—whether it’s playful or serious, whether a favorite trope is involved. In a matter of a second or two, a title can make a reader pick up a book or browse on. Perhaps that’s why I freeze up when I start writing my list of possible titles.
Or maybe it’s because the first ones out of my brain are always so lame. The Lost Love. Losing at Love. Winning at Love. A Lost Love Won.
The tearing of hair commences. Come on, Jeannie. You can do this.
Molly’s Lost Love. The Redemption of Molly’s Lost Love.
And so it goes for a day or two. Eventually the creative juices start to flow as panic sets in and the puns begin, as in Her Best Vet. Yes, I proposed that. My friend Ellen Hartman’s first book’s working title was Painted Love. I love that title. Puns are fun.
My best titles have come from the editors (especially Victoria, who seems brilliant at this) tweaking titles I’ve proposed. Her Inherited Cowboy became Maddie Inherits a Cowboy. Tempting a Cowgirl became To Tempt A Cowgirl, which in turn lead to a four-book series of To____ a Cowgirl. Easiest time I’ve ever had coming up with a title list. And another all-time favorite is Cowgirl in High Heels. The editors came up with that one. I was so grateful for such a perfect name for my book.
Titles I loved that didn’t get picked—His Goodbye Girl and Hidden Assets. I hold out hope for those, because I recycle titles for my title lists. I keep my old lists and adjust. I have to. I simply do not have a genius title brain.
But I have a title I love for my next book and that’s what matters…right up until it’s time to name the next one.