Thursday, July 29, 2010
A Rose by Any Other Title is Still a Rose...???
I have often wondered just how much weight a title carries in a novel's success or failure, for that matter?
Should the title be a window into the soul of the plot? Or have that "wow" factor that can compel a reader and potential buyer to take notice of the book? Perhaps both, I suspect.
On the other hand, might the author's name and reputation carry far more weight into a novel's success than any title one could come up with? Or more likely, the plot itself, carefully promoted, trumps the title every day of the week in determining whether or not the novel will have legs?
Lastly, it is routine for publishers to change an author's title for another deemed better or more appropriate to the line or market. Unfortunately, this can never be proven or disproven, especially as it relates to sales since there is only the one title in play, along with other variables in determining the novel's success or failure. As such, might an author's self title for a novel actually prove to be no worse or necessarily better than a publisher or editor generated title in terms of the book's ability to be a success, if not bestseller?
About half of my novels carry my own original titles and the other half, titles preferred by the publisher. Of course, like all authors, I love my own book titles and carefully chose them to fit the theme and characters and standout at local and online bookstores and in promotional materials. In this respect, I have always fought to keep my titles that were put on the chopping block. Most of these times I lost the battle, but still won the war as I got used to the new titles and even found myself loving most of them as they became a part of the history of the novels, readers identified with them, and I happily took credit for at the end of the day. But still, I do wonder every now and then what if my own original titles had been on those covers. Might that have been the icing on every cake with my novel inside?
As for my published novels with my created titles, they have all been successful enough that I can presume that the titles did their job in the scheme of things, making me believe the same may well have been true had the original titles stood in my other novels with publisher generated titles. But again, I have no way or knowing that for certain, one way or the other. Moreover, for all I know, had these novels been given new titles by editors, the results in terms of brand, sales, and success may well have been exactly the same, or better.
In the final analysis, I have come to accept that a great novel by any title can still be a great novel with great sales if the main plot has strong promotion, there is author recognition, a loyal fan base, and other intangibles work in favor of the author. The differences from one title to the next may be negligible when all is said and done. Of course, the pride in seeing your own created title across the front and side covers of a novel is a different story altogether...
What are your thoughts on the relative value of a novel's title? How many of your titles are your own and how many did the publisher create? Did you give in easily or offer some resistance to parting with your original title?
What process do you undertake in deciding what title to give your novel?
How important is the title of a book when you are in search of one to purchase?