Coming up with a title:
Some authors don't write a word until they’ve thought up a title for their work, whilst others spend weeks chewing their pen’s end and pulling tufts of hair out trying to come up with just the right one, only to have their publisher announce that they've thought of something much better.
My first children’s novel to be published (back in 1997) was a gritty urban school based story with an extremely elusive title. Whatever I suggested my publishers, Puffin, didn't like. At one point there was a class of thirty or so 10 year olds being read the manuscript and trying to come up with something suitable but my publisher didn't like any of those either.
Finally my then editor, the lovely Lucy Ogden, told me they'd decided my book would be called 'The Master of Secrets' and later I found there was also going to be a picture of my anti-hero, Gabriel Harp, on the cover rather than the story’s real hero, Raj.
Much as I loved working with Lucy I found the publisher’s title to be confusing for readers who assumed, quite naturally, that they were going to be reading a fantasy novel.
Do titles make a difference to book sales?
Yup: When 'Dancing Harriet' was about to be published by Chicken House my editor told me the feedback from Scholastic in the USA was that they would prefer it to be Harriet Dancing.
Harriet Dancing the book became.
'Chip's Dad' was originally ‘Colin's Dad’ until the publisher asked for it to be changed (I really should have realised it was going to be aimed at the US - which is the only place it sells and asked for a larger royalty than the pittance the educational publisher - who seem to have now gone bankrupt - thought was fair).
‘Little Rex’ started off as a crocodile with another name not just a title but a whole species change (I think – although crocs and dinosaurs must be related....) Then my publishers in the USA asked for the title to be Little Rex, Big Brother which was a brilliant idea because now I could have Little Rex and the Big Roar, Little Rex and the Big Mud Monster, Little Rex and the Big Egg even Little Rex's Big Day....
And finally my 2010 memoir written under the pseudonym of Megan Rix was originally 'The Puppy Mum' (my title) then ‘Puppies from Heaven’ (my agent’s title) before becoming ‘The Puppy that Came for Christmas’ (publisher’s choice). I liked this one – although with it’s pink cover the book does very often get mistaken for a children’s book rather than an adult one.
What title horror stories / experiences have you had?
And speaking of HORROR I wanted to let you know that I am going to be onstage around a cauldron talking about my Bella Donna books at SCAREFEST 3 on Saturday the 6th October at The Civic, Crosby from 1pm. Please come along if you can. It should be WILD. Tommy Donbavand, the writer of Scream Street, is hosting an interactive game show. There’s a budding author's workshop from 10-30-12, an exclusive staging of the 'Spook's Apprentice' and the 'Doom Rider' show from 4-5.30, and a 'Spook-Tacular Extra-GORE-Vanza' in the evening.
More info from the wonderful Tony Higginson at www.formbybooks.co.uk