Picking a Title: Surprisingly Hard

My co-writer (the lovely Siri Paulson) and I are deep into our revision for our novel coming out in May. I feel like it’s going fairly smoothly, because we identified a lot of issues ourselves and got started on fixes before we got our comments back from our editor. Siri may feel otherwise. We haven’t been in several-times-a-day touch like when we were writing and so now I feel like I have no idea what she’s thinking anymore.

But we’ve run into what’s turned out to be a difficult and complex issue: we can’t pick a title.

Titles are notoriously hard in general. You want something that evokes the theme and tone of the story without being too obvious, something catchy but not misleading. With my novels, I tend to pick a title before I start writing. This isn’t really the best practice, as the titles often times don’t fit by the time I’m done, but I find it hard to undertake a large project without a name. (Luckily with short stories, I can write them and then title them, which works much better.)

Siri deemed this the “Sekrit Project” at the beginning, which stuck, and has worked for getting around whatever name-hangup I have with novels, but now we need a real title because we’ve got to get the book up for pre-order, get the cover art done, reach out to reviewers, etc. And we can’t do anything of that without a title.

And we’re stumped. Because of the structure of the novel, we essentially have two of everything–two main characters, two settings, two plots. There are things and themes and everything that overlap, but finding something that makes sense for both characters and both worlds and the over-arcing themes has proven elusive.

We’ve bounced from more literal titles to more metaphorical titles and back again with no luck. We’ve looked at recent releases in the same genre to get an idea of title trends with no luck. We’ve asked our editor and our betas for suggestions. Again, no luck.

I kind of want to laugh. We worldbuilt together, we plotted and wrote and are now revising together, and we can’t manage a little thing like picking a couple of words to slap on the front of it.

Siri jokingly suggested we just call it the Secret Project, but alas, it will not work.

Any suggestions, Squiders? We’re at our wits’ end. Any thoughts about titling or things that have worked for you (or things that you look for when picking a book to read)?

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2 responses to this post.

  1. I’ve had some before I started writing. Most come to me during the drafting process. I still need one for The Yak Guy Project, and nothing is coming to mind. I hope you find a great one.

    Reply

    • Thanks! We’d better, after all the thought we’ve put into it.

      Drafting sounds like a good point to add in the title. Maybe I’ll give that a try next time. It’s after conception but before writing, so maybe I’ll be able to make it work.

      Reply

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