So, having talked about names, I thought I’d talk a little bit about titles.
It should go without saying that titles are important, but I guess I’m saying it anyway. These things happen to the best of us.
Coming up with a great title is easy for some people and not for others. I’m one of the others. On the plus side, agents and editors should be perfectly happy to work with you on your title… You just have to get a agent and editor first, and a good title helps so there’s a bit of chicken-and-egg-ness to the whole thing.
So, how do I go about writing titles? Usually, I read quotation books. I potter through, reading all the entries about key words I think I might put in the title. Most of these are themes in the book. Often I’ll find something that, with a little tweaking, will work. That’s how I arrived at MoB (hopefully Book 2) and also HoW (hopefully Book 3). (Go on, suggestions for what they stand for. I dare you. We had some good ones already for MoB but I’m always up for more.)
Anyway, I refer to my books, in my own head, by their initials. It works for me. And until something has been bought by a publisher, that’s how I’m going to refer to them here.
The Bone Dragon was trickier. It just *is* what the book had to be called, at least from my perspective. But I fully expected first my agent and then my publisher to change it.
My lovely agent Claire said that a title that makes the novel sound like fantasy rather than a psychological thriller. I agreed (well, don’t you?) and spent a few weeks gathering title suggestions. I sent her a list of about 40. We pondered them together, but ended up submitting under The Bone Dragon because it just *is* what the book had to be called, at least from our perspective.
And then the book got bought by Faber, and I was over the moon.
The first day I went to Faber is a little blurry in my memory. First I talked to much (would you believe it?), then we went off to steal mini-blue cupcakes at Peter Carey’s latest book launch (my first book launch event ever!). Rebecca (my wonderful editor) asked me if I had any last questions and I said, ‘Well… er… have you decided what the title should be?’
Only she blinked at me, nonplussed. ‘Oh, did you want to change the title?’ she asked.
‘No, you do,’ I told her.
‘No, I don’t,’ she retorted.
(Well, I paraphrase, but you get the gist.)
Rebecca said it would be fun marketing the book to make sure everyone knew what genre it was, despite the tricky title… So The Bone Dragon it has stayed, because we all agree it’s just what the book has to be called.
However, my advice is to pick a title that fits you’re genre, despite the fact that EA (hopefully Book 4) does exactly what The Bone Dragon does, only it frames the book as sci-fi instead of WWII historical fiction. This is a case of ‘Do as I say and not as I do’… though we may find that EA becomes something else eventually, even though it’s just what the book has to be called, at least from my perspective. As for everyone else’s, we’ll just have to wait and see…