How to Name a Book

Start with a working title: The Tiefling Book. This is just to put on the editor’s schedule and to discuss in meetings. Once you are definitely writing the book, it will have a second name for contract purposes which will either be your last name or the name of the series (in this case “Planetouched #4).

Think of words that would be cool and appropriate in that book’s title: Hell, Devil, Sin, Fire, Flames, Apprentice, Heir…

Combine: The Devil’s Apprentice.Realize your book is going to have a total B-movie title if you do that. Scowl.

Look up quotes with those words in them! That will be cleverer! The Devil You Know, The Adversary, Hell For Loveless Hearts.

Fall in love with Hell for Loveless Hearts.

Convince your editor she loves it too.

Tell the art director. Get a look: The title is very long. He already hates you for making him figure out how to match it to the other books in the series, which have petite, perky names.

Rally! You will fight for this title! You love this title, it fits with your story, you will—

Be told you have to change your title. Your book is on its own—no more Planetouched. The new plan is that titles will become series titles and should reflect the character that the series will be about. Hell for Loveless Hearts might be a great title, but it’s not going to make sense on a third book.

Fantasize about a third book…

Remember you haven’t written the first book. You need to do that. Also you need a title.

You are back to The Devil’s Apprentice. Yuck.

Come up with a string of titles. You are getting desperate, so they aren’t going to make sense. Heritor of the Pact. Solace at the Gate. Hellfire Twins.The managing editor likes Hellfire Twins! It sounds pulpy and cool. You do not like Hellfire Twins. It sounds like a bad exploitation porno.

Scramble. You MUST have a new title before this shit gets sent out in a catalog or something. Think. THINK. But all your brainpower is being used up writing your outline and, later, your first draft.

Ask people over beers, if they would buy Hellfire Twins. They reply, not if they have to go behind a curtain to buy it, yuk-yuk.

Ask what they would call The Tiefling Book. The answers will be things you already thought of: The Devil’s Apprentice. Something with Fire. Twins of Hellfire. Then one person, who will not have read your previous book (or pretty much any fantasy book), pipes up, “What about Angels of Brimstone?”

You do not like Angels of Brimstone. It sounds like a metal band, named by someone who doesn’t listen to metal. But the next day you are trying to remember it in a desperate bid to avoid Hellfire Twins, and it comes out.  . . Brimstone Angels.

Brimstone Angels . . . is not bad! In fact, you like it! And your editor likes it! And the managing editor likes it!
And maybe, that third book can be called Brimstone Angels: Hell for Loveless Hearts. . .or maybe it will end up being called Brimstone Angels: Hellfire Twins. . .

Oh well, that’s another title.

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One Response to How to Name a Book

  1. Steven says:

    All that discussion, and not once did “Brimstoners” come up as a title? Then again, it’d seem like it was the Scooby gang having to exorcise a possessed Shaggy, I suppose. 🙂

    Great post, Erin.