Thursday, November 20, 2008

Q & A 157

My understanding is that titles are nearly always changed when a book is published. How much does the author's title matter when making a submission? Would a book be rejected because the author's title is boring?

"Nearly always" is too strong. Plenty of books are published with the author's title. However, if your title sucks they'll try to come up with one that'll sell more books, even if it has nothing to do with your plot. For example, here are some titles of well-known books along with the titles the authors originally gave them:

Author's Title...............Publisher's Title

Beefing my way to NYC ..................The Catcher in the Rye
It's the Economy, Stupid ................Dune
Pigs Rule! ......................................Animal Farm
Pounding the Porpoise ...................Portnoy's Complaint
Boo! ..............................................To Kill a Mockingbird

On the other hand, the top movie in the world this week is titled Quantum of Solace. Whether that was the original title and they didn't change it, or whether they changed the original title to that, it's proof that the system occasionally fails.

As for whether a boring title leads to a book's rejection, not if the publisher reads the book. But speaking for myself, who will do anything to avoid work, if you actually want me to read your book, I suggest not mentioning your pathetic title until the end of your query, after you've hooked me good.


Anonymous said...

EE, you almost made me spit my coffee nip candy at the screen with 'Pounding the Porpoise.' LOL!

I keep hoping if I read your blog long enough, some of the humor will rub off, but so far no luck.

batgirl said...

Regarding Quantum of Solace, the minions might enjoy Adam and Joe's take on the title:

Kiersten said...

The original title of Twilight was...


I guess it took Meyer a while to warm up to Twilight, but I'm glad she did.

ChrisEldin said...

LOL at Quantum of Solace!! and the other titles too.

ChrisEldin said...

OMG! That YouTube is killer.

chelsea said...

Damn it Kiersten, I was going to say that!!!!

For those who've read the book, it's actually really obvious that Twilight wasn't the original title, and that she went through after the fact and added like two random references to try to make it relevant. Which, really, it isn't. The book doesn't have anything to do with twilight and the fact that twilight is the "safest time" for the "vampires" has nothing to do with anything either. Apparently they were just hoping no one would notice. And honestly, I don't think many people did.

That said, Eclipse sounds much prettier than Spoons.

Robin S. said...

But what if you love your title? If it's really really really good. Can you fight to keep it?

P.S. When he's back in town, I'm worried I'm gonna be looking at JB in a whole new way with that porpoise picture swimming along in my mind.

Should be a hoot...(at least for me it will be).

talpianna said...

This one is real:

Author's title: Trimalchio in West Egg

Publisher's title: The Great Gatsby

Back when Elizabeth Lowell still had a readers' bulletin board, she would report on the progress of her books from MSS to publication. Both the first two Rarities books had their titles changed, and both changes were not only for the worse, they were changes from unique phrases to clich├ęd ones.

Does anyone but me know why there is no mention of wind in willows in The Wind in the Willows?

Right. The title was changed. So, for ten thousand dollars and an autographed copy of Novel Deviations 7, what was the original title, and why was it changed?

December/Stacia said...

Gone With the Wind was originally titled "Tomorrow is Another Day" or "Tote the Weary Load", if memory serves. Which it might not, but I know GWTW wasn't the original title.

(And contrary to bizarre publishing myth, it was NEVER rejected, either.)

I've had to change a title once or twice, but it seems I get to keep my latest, which makes me very happy.