Everything Books
Writing and reading and books, books, books (and anything that might relate)

October 10, 2013

Changing a book title you love

ohtheplacesyoullgo_ipad_screen1large-642x481One of the questions I get asked most often is about titles– where do my book titles come from, does the editor come up with them, do I come up with them, does the publisher weigh in?

The answer can vary from book to book.  I named Ada Blackjack, Velva Jean Learns to Drive, Velva Jean Learns to Fly, and the forthcoming Velva Jean novel, American Blonde (out July 29, 2014).

My mother came up with The Ice Master, while my editor at Simon & Schuster– after the two of us brainstormed words and phrases associated with the 1980s– suggested The Aqua Net Diaries.  My editor at Penguin created Becoming Clementine after the marketing department decided that the third Velva Jean should have its own stand-alone title.

I’m happily attached to the original book title of my first YA novel (due out from Knopf in early ‘15)— You Make Me Lovely.  Yes, I named it, but if I saw that title in a store, I would probably pick up the book out of curiosity if nothing else.

But I’m a girl.  And my publisher (which includes that very important marketing department, as well as the cover designer) is worried that the word “lovely” might be a turnoff to boys of all ages, and since one of my main characters is a guy, I can see their point.  This is a book that should definitely— subject-wise and character-wise— appeal to guys too.

In my search, I first combed through my manuscript to see if there might be a line that would not only fit but stand out.  Then I started combing through the works of everyone from E. E. Cummings to Shakespeare to Lord Byron to Dr. Seuss.

I whittled five pages of possibilities down to twelve titles, which I sent to my editor, who then polled her colleagues at Knopf and Random House.  One week later, there was a clear winner:  All the Bright Places.  I got the idea from Dr. Seuss’s wonderful Oh, the Places You’ll Go!  And I have to say, it’s not only fitting for the story, it’s really starting to grow on me…

oh-the-places-you-ll-go-dr-seuss-screenshot-3Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.

Of course, now I have to rename my documents and get used to calling it All the Bright Places instead of You Make Me Lovely, but one step at a time.