Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Adventures in Title Land

This morning, I came across author Katie Ganshert’s blog post on book titles. I thought it was interesting that I saw this right after I commented on another author’s blog about how important a good title is. But reading this blog post had me thinking about my own adventures in coming up with a good title.
My debut novel, which unfortunately went into limbo after the publisher went bankrupt, was titled November’s Child. This title came to me in a dream. (More details on all of that in October, where you can read more about how that story came to be in an interview I’ll be featured in on another author’s blog.) Dreams are helpful when it comes to titles. Another dream I had told another story that turned into a manuscript I wrote, and the title was in this dream, as well.

I have had other dreams about my WIPs, and sometimes I would see title candidates in those dreams. However, for one other manuscript I wrote, I don’t think “Where is Laura?” would be much of a good title. But if something grabs me in a dream, I’ll use it.

Alas, November’s Child was a title that didn’t stick around for very long. With the demise of this book, I brought it back to life in a new version of the story and the manuscript was picked up by Gypsy Shadow Publishing. During the time I was trying to figure out what to do with my book, everyone I talked to told me the same thing: It will need a new title. I spent months trying to come up with something. Then I started to ask myself, what is this book really about? What’s going on with the main characters? The heart of the book is about the Druid observance of Samhain. Hmm, Samhain. Must use that. Then I looked at the characters and I realized, you know, it’s like they are haunted by the past. Like the past is a huge shadow over them. Wait a minute, shadow? Ding! That’s how I got the book’s title: Shadow of Samhain.

The one and only book I have co-authored (so far!) is the haunted houses book with Martha Jette: Totally Scared: The Complete Book on Haunted Houses. But neither of us can take credit for the title. Actually, my good friend, Peter Bowerman, came up with that title. (Thanks, Peter!) Up until then, I’d spent months brainstorming for a title. Family members even tried to come up with something. But nothing worked. I’m glad I finally asked Peter for help, because it’s definitely a great title!

Family members have also helped me work on other book titles, as well. My daughter and I spent some time brainstorming for a title for my haunted cities book. Because the contract was cancelled by the publisher, I figured that if it was going to be with a new publisher, it’s going to have a new title! Eventually, I came up with “A Ghost on Every Corner.”

For my poetry ebook, Songs of the Dead, that one was also a team effort. My publishers suggested I use one of the poem titles as a title and I threw at them a list of the ones I liked best. They picked “Songs of the Dead” and I was happy with it. (Thank you, Denise and Charlotte!) In a way, it fits the overall collection of poems.

Despite these successes with book titles, however, I still occasionally struggle with titles for my books. There is one manuscript I have, a paranormal mystery, that has a temporary title: “Imprint.” Which I think is better than the working title it used to have: “The Haunted Carpet.” (I still chuckle over that one! LOL) This manuscript is still being spiffied up, so hopefully during the revision process, I will manage to come up with some other title.

If not, I can always ask around. Or hold a “title this book” contest with my readers. It’s an idea.

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  • At 4:45 AM , Blogger Joleene Naylor said...

    Yes! A good title is so important! I run into authors a lot who have mediocre or even flat titles and wonder if I should say something to them, but then I never do. I figure if they want my opinion they will ask for it...

    If I ever do a humor book I am going to name it something catchy that has nothing to do with the story at all.. just for fun ;)

  • At 9:08 AM , Blogger Dawn Wilson said...

    I think that kind of a title would work well for a humor book. :) Thank you for commenting!


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