Thursday, May 14, 2009

Baboon Metaphysics

Books titles are tricky. Titling is a marketing function performed by the publisher and while the author does have input, it’s the publisher’s call. That’s okay with me—I like to rely on experts so I’ll go with whatever they give me. I’ve never been wed to any of my titles anyway, and there have been a few already. The book that Flux is publishing started as a manuscript called The Fáistine, which became The Last Daykeeper when I was agent hunting. Then when my agent submitted to editors she renamed it Prophecy of Days, and the working title my editor has given it is Prophecy of Days, Book One: The Daykeeper’s Grimoire. In a couple of months it will go through the marketing/titling process and come out with an ISBN and a final title. Let’s just hope it doesn’t get me the Odd Title Prize.

Yesterday the Oddest Book Title of the Year was announced. The winner? The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-miligram Containers of Fromage Frais. That title edged out other front runners, including Baboon Metaphysics, Curbside Consultation of the Colon, Strip and Knit with Style, Techniques for Corrosion Monitoring, and—my personal favorite—The Large Sieve and its Applications.

I’d love to see some other working titles. Care to share your titles and/or title evolution?

17 comments:

PJ Hoover said...

Titles are so not my strongpoint. I tend to just want to name the books after my characters. Boring :)

Christy Raedeke said...

That's hilarious, PJ - my work in progress is now just called "Astrid" for my main character, after a disastrous try at a title that one friend said sounded like the name of a Barbie subdivision. This is definitely a job for the professionals...

Eric said...

Titles are come and go for me. For example, I have a short story I'm working on that still doesn't have a title (and I'm already two chapters in). Another project I have (not sure if it'll be short or novel size) told me its title almost immediately - Illusions of a Deity. When I started writing my first novel (still in progress), I knew before I started what the title would be - A Moment To Breathe. So I'm all over the place with this. And that's just my own scattering thoughts, so who knows what a publisher will do with them. Good post though, so thanks.

Tyler said...

Eric's right, this is a great post. I love some of those titles, ha!

I also really love "Daykeeper's Grimoire," especially that second word. Really sets a good tone for the book.

I haven't settled on a title I LOVE love, but I've noticed mine keeps getting progressively shorter. In my ambitious ignorance I originally titled my book AND series together, "The Bolertia Tales: The Quest to Solcrest," then (wisely, I think) cut out that first part. Still, I thought it was kind of cheesy, all rhyme-y and mentioning a "quest" and all that. Then, one of my writer friends suggested the one-word-title thing, so now it's just "Solcrest."

One word titles are kind of fun, and I'm reasonably happy with that right now, but I'm definitely open to a marketing department's opinion when I reach that point!

Anonymous said...

You bloggers have the most interesting titles. Publishers should consider those. Who can resist "The Man Who Ate Barbie Heads", "RIP Pickled Baby", "Cat Psycho in the Woods", or "Ornamental Hermit", just some on this blog? It is interesting how the titles evolve during the writing process. Good post, Christy.
CAM

Anne Spollen said...

The Shape of Water began as a short story called Fishdreams. I still secretly think of that story as Fishdreams. When it came to title time, I just asked Andrew (Karre)if it could come from a line within the book. I can't stand reading a book then thinking, so why is this called "Rainworms" when it never rained and worms weren't in it? What did I miss?

Also, love the mood grimoire instantly evokes.

Christy Raedeke said...

Eric - you definitely have a talent for naming; I really love both the titles you mentioned.

Tyler, Solcrest is great! Isn't it funny how sometimes just editing down can lead to a brilliant solution?

CAM, thanks for the kudos in blog titles! But for every good one there have been several suckers. :)

Anne - As a poet you have a definite flair for titles. I love "The Shape of Water" and your new title, "Light Beneath Ferns" might be one of my favorite titles ever.

Anna Claire said...

Mine are all literally named story1, story2, story3 and so on. It's an unimaginative-but-nostalgic holdover from when I wrote stories in middle school and that's what I titled all the Word docs. Those stories usually had super-creative titles like "The Governess."

I personally would like to see what Curbside Consultation of the Colon has to say.

Sarah said...

I have a manuscript that is finished without a name. Yeah, I see that being a problem;)

Anonymous said...

Maybe some of you title namers could help an artist name her landscape paintings...so far I have "Morning Light", "Evening Light",
"Foggy Morning". You get the picture. Wish we had professionals to help us with that. One painter friend used the names from Home Depot paint samples. I tried musical names for awhile: "Solfeggietto","Andante" but got bored with that as well. Any ideas?

Janie

Christy Raedeke said...

Anna Claire - I too was intrigued by the Curbside Colon book so I checked it out on amazon. There should be an R rating for grossness just on the cover photos! But the author is taking his crappy (ha) title straight to the bank with a $71.95 price tag!

Janie - I'm going to go to Home Dept and see if paint color names will work on book titles! Genius!

PurpleClover said...

Well I'd love to add a story of my title timeline but since I'm not agented my wip is still Jump which is what made it easy to find in google. I don't think it even qualifies as a "working title" since there are no editors involved...lol.

But I have a GREAT title for a new book but I don't know what the book would actually be about.

Jody said...

So far my book has gone from, "the uncertainty of fairy tales," to "other than honorable," to "breaking rank," with no signs of stopping. Doesn't even seem like it could be the same book. I guess it's kind of not...

I too, will be heading for the paint department! Awesome.

Maggie said...

Janie, I thought my "Morning Light" was original! Darn!

My current project is imaginatively titled "Pastel Book 2."

Anonymous said...

I'm calling my YA murder mystery 10-41 DAVID. In the ten code, 10-41 means beginning tour of duty and this is my MC's first mystery to solve. His name is David. Wonder how that title will fly once I start shopping it around?

Wanda in AL

Christy Raedeke said...

PC - I have love the title JUMP since I first read about it on your blog. Are you going to be a tease and not tell us the great title you have for your next MS?

Jody - Love the title progression from very literary to very commercial - interesting study in how the same book could be marketed to multiple audiences.

Wanda - I'm all over 10-41 DAVID. I think it's a pretty great title!

Maggie/Janie - Looks like Morning Light crosses over into books, too! There's a book with that title and quite a saucy premise: "Crusty Clint Harrigan is, at 37, a Catholic cowboy who's sworn off romance. The arrival of a cute Catholic clairvoyant in his hometown of Crystal Falls, Ore., challenges his resolve and his skepticism."

Hilarious!

Maggie said...

"...a cute Catholic clairvoyant"...? Alliteration always attracts, but this one isn't sending me to the bookstore....