Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Name of This Book May Change . . .

The Persistence of Memory is one of the most f...Image via Wikipedia
What's in a name? Everything. Nothing. Marketability. Predictions of marketability, trends.

Oh cheeze. I can't pretend that I know anything about publishing or that any of it makes sense to me. All I can do is share my experience, strength and hope. (*Grin*)

Edges was not my original title, and I can't take any credit for it.  My agent sold my manuscript as The Moonflower, a title I was very attached to, as it worked on a multitude of levels. It was the name of the youth hostel, and the name of a  flower indigenous to the desert: beautiful, toxic, and hallucinogenic, and at the same time embodies the themes of death and rebirth. (Was I taking myself too seriously here?)

While we were working on the first stages of editing, I was asked to reconsider the title, as the publisher was afraid that The Moonflower would not appeal to boys. I thought long and hard, and I lobbied for my title here:

Hi guys! As I work, I have been deeply considering the title. I have been thinking about CLIMBING SLICKROCK, but I still like MOONFLOWER much better, as I consider it an openly inviting metaphor with multiple levels of meaning.

After talking to some men, I think MOONFLOWER combined with a cover illustration suggesting that metaphor could be an evocative way of reaching boys. If you've been to any boys' clothing stores lately you see a lot of shirts using soft and hard symbols together - things like skulls with sunbursts and dragons with flowers. My own boys play Rockband on their wii game, and the graphics have these same contrasts - sinuous forms matched with dangerous animals. My husband's heavy metal CDs too! Some of them have oblique or even artsy titles, like Nevermind, by Nirvana. Certainly The Grateful Dead with their album covers attract both genders!

Since the Moonflower represents resurrection and rebirth, but also death and danger, couldn't a good illustrator do a lot with this imagery?

Hmm? No. Maybe something with Edges in it? They said. Ugh. Too cheesy, too obvious I thought. I lobbied for The Persistence of Memory, a nod to the Salvador Dali painting, one of Luke's favorites. (And isn't it strange that I could do that? There's no copyright on titles . . .)  It was a serious contender, but ultimately the publisher thought it was too adult and too literary.

And then they didn't mention it again for at least another six months until I was miraculously able to let it go. Beth Potter emailed me one day and asked what I thought of Edges. A one-word title. Simple. I saw the Edges in a new light. I loved how the word has a double meaning, I loved how simple it is. And I still love it - and I adore the cover art too! (But that my friends, is another post!)

In the meantime, I have met many more authors and have found that it is rare for a working title to become the published title, for all of the reasons stated in my first paragraph. However, I still think that it's very important to have a working title for your manuscript - it makes it real, it gives it weight. Just know that it's all subject to change, and that something even better could be around the corner . . . words to live by, huh?

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  1. It's so encouraging to hear bits of your journey to publishing EDGES. I don't know anything about publishing and it doesn't make sense to me, either, so it's nice to know you still feel that way after achieving success. I have a working title for my novel, but I'm sure it will be quite different in the end as well.

  2. I was way too attached to mine - it was a good lesson!

  3. I'm not yet published, but lots of my friends are. I've been told titles change, and it's good to be flexible. This is a nice reminder. :)

    One-word titles, when they're just right, are great. Plus they're easy to remember!


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