1.22.2006

Not Quite a Nitwit, but Miss Snark still isn't all that happy

Dearest Miss Snark,

A friend of mine is working on his third book for HarperCollins. In the course of conversation the other day, we started talking about titles for the new book. He ran a couple by me, then said, "Well, it doesn't really matter what I call it. The publishing house can call it whatever it wants once the contract's signed."

I said: "So the only reason for creating an interesting title is to get the attention of an agent or publisher?"

"Exactly."

Do you agree or disagree? Knowing whether the original title is irrelevant will save me a lot of wheel-spinnin' time.

Thanks so much for deigning to read the email. If indeed you read this email.

deign: to do something considered beneath one's dignity.

Um...I don't deign to read email from you..until you act like a nitwit.
I appreciate the time you spend reading this blog and asking questions.
I appreciate the fact you WANT to learn about this industry and be successful.
I appreciate the wit and humor and almost unfailing generosity of the people who read this blog.

Don't you DARE say I think writing this blog and talking to you is beneath my dignity. It is without a doubt one of the things that ADDS value to my life and I'm grateful to every person, even nitwits, who read it.

Now, about your question.

Yes, titles don't matter. Titles change all the time, and mostly you have no control over it.
Don't obsess. I never reject anything based on the title. I've retitled several projects between the query and offering representation stage and the sending to editors stage.

Just call it A Heartbreaking Work of Swaggering.... err..never mind.

Call it Snark's Guide to Fine Deigning...not

13 comments:

Lisa Hunter said...

I've just found this out for myself. My editor and the marketing people at the publishing house are meeting this week to decide the title of my new book. Me, I'm just sitting at home, waiting to find out what to call the book I've spent the last 18 months writing.

It's weird, but on the other hand, the marketing people know what they're doing. They know what makes someone pick up a book and fork over $13.95 for it. So I'm glad to have their help.

LIsa, author of Title TK

Bernita said...

A title, not the generic "WIP" can sometimes help keep the writer focused on his original concept and not go dipsydoodling in all directions.
Depends on the writer's method, of course.
Just don't expect it to be permanent.

Kelly said...

A title also helps the writer think of the WIP as a novel, not just as a WIP, so it's also a good motivator to keep writing.

Thank you for the blog, Miss Snark.

Liz Wolfe said...

I fully expected to have the titles of my books changed but it hasn't happened yet. When my agent sent my most recent to an editor, at the end of his letter, he said "I love the title". No idea why he said that or what it might mean. I'm a little in love with this particular title so I'm trying to prepare myself for having it changed. But I cut my writing teeth in advertising where all kinds of people get a stab at changing your copy.

Anonymous said...

I've just given up the ghost, and call each book - Contract Book #10 (or whatever). My agent's office gets confused when they get paid the proposal advance on one book title and the delivery and acceptance advance on another.

Anonymous said...

"Don't you DARE say I think writing this blog and talking to you is beneath my dignity. It is without a doubt one of the things that ADDS value to my life and I'm grateful to every person, even nitwits, who read it."

and reading this blog is without a doubt one of the highlights of my day -- I appreciate Miss Snark So Much!! -

E. Dashwood said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

But a good wip title doesn't hurt. My agent has been yakking it up with editors about my book in preparation to actually submitting it. Editors have been favorably disposed to see my stuff at least in part based on the title.

SAND STORM said...

First Ms Snark answers the email provocative opening.
"I appreciate the time you spend reading this blog and asking questions.
I appreciate the fact you WANT to learn about this industry and be successful.
I appreciate the wit and humor and almost unfailing generosity of the people who read this blog".
Then gives her advice.
Then finishes with "Call it Snark's Guide to Fine Deigning"
Intelligent, thoughtful and humorous in one snarky package. This is why she has one of the best Litblogs on the web.

Jen said...

This is why she has one of the best Litblogs on the web.

I would agree with the amendment that it is the best, at least in my opinion. I don't get near as much enjoyment and information (a wonderful combination, I think) all in one.

Anonymous said...

Awwww, Miss Snark does love us snarklings.

Mags said...

Oh thank God. I'm having a hard time coming up with a good title for my WIP. It's nice to know I can relax about it (not that I was actually all that tense--I kind of figured my yet-to-be-associated-with agent or editor would help me).

Anonymous said...

Agent 10003 here - If you or your agent are big enough fish, you can often get "on mutual approval" over the title and changes in your contract. So, for example, if the contract is for a book called THE CANTERBURY TALES, your publisher can't unilaterally change your title to CHAUCER'S USE OF THE SEMICOLON without your consent.