Friday, December 14, 2012

Reader Friday: Titles That You've Sent to the Shredder?


Some writers just don't have the "title gene," the gift for dreaming up a perfect title for our work. THE GREAT GATSBY, for example, was nearly  called ON THE ROAD TO WEST EGG. What are some titles that you (or your publisher) ultimately rejected for your manuscript?

18 comments:

  1. The title of one of my books, A KILLER WORKOUT, replaced its working title: EXERCISE CAN BE MURDER.
    For another one, I chose DYING TO BE THIN over DIE-T ANOTHER DAY. (Also I'LL DIE-T TOMORROW).
    My current WIP is PLUS-SIZE HOMICIDE. So far I'm actually okay with this one!
    I keep long lists of possible titles, to which I periodically add candidates. Usually the winner bubbles to the surface by the time I've finished the first draft.

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    1. Hmmm...I like the DIE-T Another Day one personally. LOL! Sounds like one of those big movies!

      BK Jackson

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    2. BK, I still kind of like it too! Maybe I'll resurrect it in the future! :)

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    3. Interesting first choice, but when I saw it first I phonetically pronounced it "DIE-TEE". Perhaps "DIE-YET"?

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    4. It is supposed to be DIE-YET, but the confusion underscores why it was good this one was rejected! :)

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  2. The original title for my first published book, THE ARK, was THE NOAH COVENANT. It was deemed to be too Ludlumesque.

    My first idea for THE VAULT was THE MIDAS HOARD, but my publisher thought it sounded too much like THE MIDAS WHORE, though that might actually be a great title for a different kind of book.

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    1. Hrm....the golden touch takes on a whole different meaning there.

      unless of course your talking about mufflers, then it may be the mechanics dream.

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  3. Oh, do please write THE MIDAS WHORE, Boyd! That would be completely awesome, and a surefire best-seller! :)

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  4. I don't have any particular before/and after title stories, but choosing a title for a book is far worse than actually writing the book. It takes eons for book titles to come to me. UGH! I'd rather drop to the floor and do a hundred burpees then choose a title.

    BK Jackson

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  5. When Lynn Sholes and I decided to collaborate on our first book, we used CORPUS CHRISTI for the working title during the three years it took to write. Since it was a thriller about cloning Christ, we thought using the Latin for Body of Christ was cleaver. But when we sent it off to our agent, she pointed out the error of our ways. Could be a travel guide to a city in Texas. Could be a novelization of a Broadway play running at the same time. So we changed it to THE ENOCHIAN PROPHECY, a brilliant title that no one could pronounce or spell. Our publisher wisely changed it to THE GRAIL CONSPIRACY.

    Book 2 had the working title of THE THIRD SECRET. Steve Berry released a thriller by the same name so our agent changed the title to THE LAST SECRET.

    Book 3 had a working title of INDIGO RUBY for the year it took to write. The title had a great deal of meaning for at least two people: Lynn and I. Again, the publisher stepped in and wisely renamed it THE HADES PROJECT which is exactly what the book is about. Clever.

    BLACK NEEDLES was what we called number 4 which was the name we gave the deadly retrovirus that formed the threat of the book. Cool title, but it really didn’t tell the reader anything about the story. Could be a book about a knitting club for witches. So the publisher finally settled on THE 731 LEGACY. The book involves the Japanese WWII biological warfare division called Unit 731 and how its legacy propels the story. OK, we agree that was a wise decision and makes sense.

    We chose the name, THE PHOENIX APOSTLES, for #5, and it stuck. And our upcoming thriller, THE BLADE, also remains unchanged.

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  6. My first published novel had the working title of RUN AWAY HOME, since it was about a female doctor who fled to her home town when her world collapsed. The publisher replaced it with CODE BLUE, saying the original title didn't show it was a medical thriller. Still like the first one, but have to agree with their premise.
    I learned a lesson from that, though, and they've accepted all my titles since.

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  7. "Deadly Strike" became "A Reason For Dying"
    Leading to my, soon to be released, "A Reason For Terror"
    "Recycled Life" became "Sinfully Delicious"
    My WIP "No Country For Little Girls" became "No Place For Little Girls" when I realized I unconsciously stole the title from "No Country For Old Men" The story is about Chinese girls and Human Trafficing, so I thought the original title was great.

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  8. My cruise ship mystery was originally titled "Crew Cut" but the publisher didn't like that one, so I came up with "Killer Knots" instead.

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  9. Oh, this is a great theme.

    When I contracted my last novel the tile on the first page was "Highland Creek."
    Editor said it has to go.
    I'm brainstorming for a new one now.

    One of my early sci-fi short stories was titled "Deep space, deep trouble." It later became "The Outpost."

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  10. Currently I only write short stories, but I suck at titles so much that you can randomly pick any of my works for an example of a dreadful title. I think that On the Road to West Egg has all of mine beat though, which gives me hope. ;)

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  11. I have never been sure of the title of my first book Karl's Last Flight but have equally never been able to think of a better one. I've tried and tried, but it stuck and now its been six years, so no sense in changing it.

    The next book 65 Below came with a title built in and no one else on Amazon had the same so it stayed and has helped sell a lot of copies of that one.

    My 3rd novel, Faithful Warrior was originally titled "From The Pulpit", but that sounded too preachy, or like a religious text instead of a military thriller about a former Marine turned pastor turned back to terrorist hunter. Right as I released it though Alex Berenson came out with 'Faithful Spy' and I though hrm...wonder if he'll get mad, but he never called to complain so I guess he doesn't mind.

    Midnight Sun was originally 'Fire & Ice' then 'Arctic Fire' then 'Cold Summer' which almost stuck, except that it was actually hot in the summer depicted in the book.

    Lastly my recently released novella had no title for the entire time I worked on it. The working files were just called 'backstory' until I had to come up with something in order to put the book out...it became Blade of Hearts.

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  12. My current WIP has the working title "Dial 1-PRO-HAC-VICE" which is a private joke.

    When I mentioned it in an email to the agent who had given me the idea at a writers conference after-party, she laughed and said, "You know that's terrible." Yeah, it is. But it works for the moment.

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  13. I always feel a story is naked until it has a title I like. I like it best when a title comes early in the process. I have a novella draft I haven't yet successfully named and the working title is "Love Steps". I know, it's awful. (In my defense, it's about a step-family relationship.) I will be so happy if ever I find something better.

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