Monday, March 6, 2006

Worst... title... ever

As a followup to my last post, I thought I'd talk about titles a little more. Generally speaking, if you sell to a New York house, don't get attached to your title-- about nine out of ten are renamed. My first published book, The Light in the Darkness, was an exception to that rule. It was my working title, and the editors liked it and thought it fit well with the story. Despite some concerns that it was a little big for a cover, they eventually decided to keep it. But that doesn't happen often. (In fact, Bantam didn't like the title Love Remembered and was in the process of coming up with a new title for my second book when they dropped my contract.) In e-publishing, on the other hand, the publisher will usually go with your title if they don't have something similar in their backlist, or unless it strikes them as painfully bad.

And sometimes the titles we come up with ARE painfully bad. I feel compelled here to mention the worst title I ever came up with. Now to be fair, this was back in the late eighties, when there was apparently a requirement that every book either have the word "flame" or "savage" in the title (or even better, both). My first book (never published, to the undying gratitude of readers everywhere) had a horrific working title. Yeesh. I cringe just thinking about it. It's a biblical quote, just like The Light in the Darkness, but that's no excuse. Hideous, hideous title (quite appropriate for a hideous, hideous book, I suppose). My only consolation is that even if I'd somehow managed to sell the book, no editor would have let this awful title go to press.

The title? Do I really have to tell you? Oh, all right:

A Most Vehement Flame.

Hey. Quit laughing. It was a long, long time ago and I was very young...


  1. Tough to name stories... for me, more so than writing them. :)

  2. *giggle* OK, that's a bad title. It's hard, coming up with the right one. I usually start off with a lame-o working title and strive to come up with something really good as I go. You don't want to know what the original working title of The Gripping Beast was. *shudder*

  3. I feel a little better about naming my most recent book That Kauai Book. At least yours (and, yes, I did giggle at your title) showed some cleverness and thought. I don't even pretend or make an attempt.

  4. Okay, confession time... I once plotted out this historical romance that was going to take place in my home town of Tampa, called, wait for it: TONGUES OF FLAME.

    Tampa, translated in the seminole language means "Tongues of Flame" but as a romance title, it's just... dirty.

  5. There is a time to burn tongues ... However, that which does not kill us makes us stronger ;-)