One of the hardest things an author does is let go of something personal – like a title of a book. For many, many months, I’ve stuck to one working title: God Doesn’t Like Sweet Cornbread (and Other Things She Told Me).
The title comes from my favorite chapter in the book. I became so attached to the title, the words became precious and sacrosanct. I think I became attached to its differentness, its cleverness. God and cornbread? God’s a She?
When I thought of changing the title before, I became defensive and sought out opinions that mirrored mine. This doesn’t have anything to do with God being part of the title (although an earlier fear was that someone would think this was a religious book).
The issue is capturing the public’s attention and reflecting the book as a whole, not just one chapter. I perused the New York Times Bestseller Lists for the past several years. The vast majority of titles are two, three or four words.
The Overton Window
The Mermaid Chair
This isn’t about wanting a bestseller (but what author doesn’t). This is about having a fighting chance to at least pitch the book and Cissy’s story without having an agent shut down because of the title.
What book titles have attracted you in the past? Do you agree about the brevity in today’s titles?