Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What's in a Name?

Naming a baby is an important job. We want a name that sounds just right and one that will still sound good when the baby becomes as adult. We want a name that isn’t easy to make fun of. We don’t want our baby to be the brunt of jokes because of the name we picked. We don’t want a name that’s all used up. Different is good, but not too different.

Naming a book is another important job. The title needs to sound just right and tell us something about the book. The title needs to speak to you. It should say pick me up, read me, buy me. We don’t want a title that’s already worn out. Different is good.

Because a book title is so vital to the marketing of a book, most publishers reserve for themselves the final say on a title. My publisher told me that they only use about 5% of submitted titles. Most titles are changed. I have heard that big name national publishers run their titles past Barnes and Noble and Borders for approval. If they don’t like the title, it’s a no go. I guess Borders is out of the running now, so maybe only Barnes and Noble holds such power.

I love short snappy titles. Some that have caught my attention lately are The Help, and Speak. A one word title that is loaded with meaning is an attention grabber. I named one of my picture books I’m Not Scared, and later changed it to just Scared.

What are some titles that speak to you? Have you ever grabbed a book just because the title was intriguing? Did the book live up to its title? Have you ever rejected a book based on its title, and later changed your mind?

Choosing a great title is an art form. What’s in a Name? A lot.

Linda Garner

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