Monday, November 10, 2008

The Problem of Naming Things

People sometimes ask me how I come up with the titles for my novels, and the truth is: by committee. I almost always have to solicit advice, particularly since I've made the mistake of having the word DEAD repeated in my titles. Do you know how many vampire/urban fantasy authors used DEAD as part of theirs? A LOT. And pretty soon I'm going to be reduced to just saying DEAD DEAD DEAD as my title, I swear.

Yet, I can't because titles are important. Despite that old adage, people do judge books by the covers. And as cover art is almost completely out of my control, the one thing I might be able to contribute is a title (although, thankfully many of my original titles have been nixed by my publisher. When I wrote SF, I'd originally called my first book DANCING ON THE HEAD OF A PIN. That was determined to be "too long to fit on the spine" and got changed to ARCHANGEL PROTOCOL, which fits the book much better in the end, I think.)

Thus, I hate titles. I'm currently trying to decide on a title for Garnet's fifth book. Right now I've been calling it HONEYMOON OF THE DEAD, which is pretty descriptive of what happens in the book, but... who knows if the publisher will think it's kicky enough. I'm ready with an alternative: BETTER WED THAN DEAD, but I may want to save that for book 6 (if there is one: knock on wood.)

How important are titles to you (as a reader or an author)?


Natalie Hatch said...

I can't come up with a snazzy title to save myself. I often go to my hubby who seems to be into one liners and he's given me food for thought. I still think 'Caught in a Love Triangle during a hellish war in a faraway land' is an appropriate title. Though hubby came up with Time to Dream....
My current WIP is 'Girl Pirates in Space' I think I'll go to hubby in a few weeks for something better.

Lilithas said...

In all honesty, even though it's seriously wrong to do so, I do judge books by the covers (or titles, in this case). If the title is catchy, I buy the book. If the cover art grabs my eye, I buy the book. Either way, the cover does influence my decision (unless someone's told me about the book and I just go looking for that, no matter what the title or cover art is).

But I don't think you have much to worry about. People who'll read Honeymoon of the Dead (or whatever it'll be called) will most likely already be Garnet Lacey fans.

Though just so you know, I think you should save the title "Better Wed than Dead" for your sixth book. ;)

youpsy said...

I love the title DEAD DEAD DEAD, but maybe that would be too much of a writer in-joke. ;) This coming from someone whose working titles are real show-stoppers like "The Irish Book," "The Wyoming Book," "The Louisville Book" . . .

As a reader, I'm usually looking for an author or title I've head something about, so I like to think I'm not prejudiced. If I'm just browsing, though, cover first, snappy title second in terms of grabbing my interest.