I announced the title of GEEKS, GIRLS AND SECRET IDENTITIES when the official word was posted on Publisher’s Marketplace, so I’ve had plenty of time to assimilate it, but like my comrade-in-writerly-arms J. Anderson Coats I went through a period of retitling angst. Unlike J, however, I was pretty attached to my original title, which was THE CAPTAIN STUPENDOUS FAN CLUB.
Good, right? Snappy! Catchy! A touch of fanboy geekitude! I happily took that title out on sub, and it’s what was on the manuscript when I landed the offer of representation from Agent Joan. But when I scored the book deal with Arthur Levine he told me (just like J’s editor Reka) that we needed to work on a title that reflected the deeper themes of the book more clearly.
Here’s one of the truly great things about working with somebody like Arthur: my trust in him is pretty much unshakable. Not just because of his stature in the industry and the quality of his authors’ body of work (although those are parts of it), but also because I had the chance to spend a little time with him myself and get a peek into his editorial mind during last year’s SCBWI summer conference. LA10SCBWI, the gift that keeps on giving!
I admit to a few pangs over giving up THE CAPTAIN STUPENDOUS FAN CLUB, but I figured ehh, it’s just another way of killing those Faulkner-esque darlings. It’s possible that my extended state of post-book-deal delirium made me extra receptive to the idea – nothing puts me in a collaborative state of mind like having a dream come true, yanno?
Agent Joan gave me the same “start writing crap” advice she gave J, so I sat down and enthusiastically generated a veritable mountain of stanky, execrable titles, including HOW A SKINNY TWERP WHO CAN’T FLY OR ANYTHING TURNED OUT TO NOT BE A TOTAL LOSER. That’s not a bad preview of the MC’s emotional arc, but yeah, it leaves something to be desired as a book title. It’s not quite long enough, for one thing.
Eventually Arthur and I whittled it down to 3 choices, which he ran up the Scholastic flagpole. Predictably, I suffered a loooong moment of doubt. Crapola! Were those really the best 3 choices? I have to be prepared to accept any one of them as the final title! Am I prepared? If anyone had been there to give me the logical answer they would have said “of course you’re not prepared, chump. You’re never prepared. You are, in fact, a thundering basket case, so just deal with it, you’ll be fine.”
So I punched myself in the face a couple of times, reminded myself I was okay with all 3 of the final options, and remembered that hully gee, I really do trust my editor, and I’m fully committed to publication as a collaborative process. And so it went. My book’s final title came to be. And yo babies, it’s gonna look awesome on a book cover. I know this for sure, because I have actually seen a superduper top-secret do-not-reveal-on-pain-of-death early draft of my cover! But that’s a topic for another day, MWAHAHAHAHA…
Wishing I was still a skinny twerp,