A Title Change and Why

I REALLY notice titles. Doesn’t everybody? We all have picked up books based titles, and I want people to pick up my book based on the title.

So here is my title change story.

I liked my old title, THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON, and I felt it was a title that kids would like. I felt people would pick it up. After all, dragons are on Tara Lazar’s list of 500+ Things That Kids Like. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted my title to be a glimpse into my story. A lure. And I had an idea that my title could accomplish this better by adding a few words. So I researched. I looked at title length. I looked at title layouts on covers. I thought. And thought some more. I let the new title wander around in my brain a while. I said it out loud in my house. I said it out loud while walking and driving. I typed it out and stared at it. I thought about people saying, “Oh, you must read MY OLD TITLE or MY NEW TITLE.” Which was better? I tried it out on some family and friends. And then I decided to approach my editor. I wanted her expertise and I knew from our working relationship that she would listen to my reasons and tell me her honest thoughts.

She liked my new title! She agreed with my reasoning.


is now

*drum roll*


I’m very excited about the title change. It’s really a pretty simple change and may not seem like much to get excited over. After all, it’s only four more words. But to me it was a big decision, and the excitement comes from the feeling that I have given it the thought a title deserves.

Like I said, I had my reasons for wanting the change. Here they are. Maybe some of my “thinking through” will strike a chord with you if you’re wondering about a title.

  • THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON was fun. And it’s a good title. But THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT gives a more tempting glimpse into my story and is a great title  and even more fun 🙂
  • Not only do dragons make Tara Lazar’s list of 500+ Things That Kids Like, but so do knights. So I now have two things that kids like! Double the title temptation. (Even without Tara’s list, I knew that kids liked dragons AND knights, but I wanted to mention her list here because I refer to it often and thought all of you may benefit from Tara’s list, too. It’s an idea generator!)
  • I noticed that a lot of THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WHO SWALLOWED A FLY retellings included not only the swallow-er, but the swallow-ee. I felt there was good reason for this. The reason being . . .some of the titles made me laugh before I ever opened the books! Really . . . THAT swallowed THAT? Funny! I want to read more.

So there you have it. A lot of thought. A simple change. And hopefully a title that will draw readers to the tale of an old dragon who swallows a knight.



Penny Parker Klostermann’s debut picture book, There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight, is coming from Random House Children’s Publishing Fall 2015. You can follow her on Twitter @pklostermann and visit her blog HERE. Penny is represented by Tricia Lawrence.


Filed under Editing and Revising, Titles, Writing

49 responses to “A Title Change and Why

  1. I love the new title, Penny!


  2. Stacy S. Jensen

    I love it too Penny! When will it be released?


  3. Love the title change! It’s gonna fly off the shelves!


  4. It’s perfect! The old title was a fine title, but the new title makes me laugh.


  5. I think this is an excellent change, Penny! I cannot wait to have you sitting on my shelf. 😉 (And you’re right about Tara’s great list.)


  6. I Know a New Book I’d Be Willing to Buy!


  7. Great change of title, Penny! With my new book out on August 19th, I did the opposite – I made it shorter. The working title (for all the years when it was floating around waiting to be accepted) was WHEN I TUCK YOU IN. The sales staff at FSG wanted the word bedtime inserted somewhere, which I felt ruined the flow. Like you, I thought on it a long while, then changed it to TUCK-IN TIME. The editor and the sales staff were all happy – and I was relieved!!


    • TUCK-IN TIME is a perfect title. It’s one of those that readers will pick up based on the title. It’s great you put thought into it because it’s much better than the original in my opinion! And I will have my copy next week!!!


  8. I LOVE the new title! Definitely more alluring!


  9. I love it, Penny! For all the reasons you said!


  10. Great title, Penny! I plan to buy this book anyway of course, but if I didn’t, I’m pretty sure my son would make me!


  11. So much better! Very alluring title!


  12. It is kind of amazing the difference a couple of words can make. This title is even funnier.


  13. I think it will make kids more likely to reach for it!


  14. Kim Pfennigwerth

    What a great hook!! Your extra words definitely makes it a ‘must read’ from the title!!! Can’t Wait!!!


  15. Great new title! So fun knowing the swallow-ee! (Plus, a dragon’s gotta eat.) 😉


  16. Great title, Penny. It promises fun and excitement along with familiarity. Can’t wait to see the book when it comes out. Exciting!


  17. Oh, I love the new title, Penny! And kids will, too. Bravo!


  18. Thanks so much for sharing this, Penny! I know that for me, I sometimes get too comfortable with what I’ve done, either with title or plot or character…it’s only recently this year…after taking Susanna’s Making Picture Book Magic Class…and Kristen Fulton’s Non Fiction Archaeology…that I see how important it is to be open to change, big and small. Congrats again – can’t wait to buy a copy of your book!


  19. Penny – thanks for sharing your process. Isn’t it amazing how one small change can take so much thought? The best is once you’ve made the decision, and it then seems so obvious it was the right decision all along! Can’t wait tot read it.


  20. LOVE IT! I also love how you chewed on it awhile. I’m chewing on one right now. I think it’s much better than the other THREE titles the story has had. Ha. I’ll be happy to have your book on our bookshelves.


  21. Christine Hayes

    Love the new title, AND your clever, funny story! Can’t wait to see it in print!


  22. Lindsey Lane

    Penny, I love the new title. The story starts right on the cover and I know it will have little ones itching to get inside (or some other apt metaphor but I’ve been on vacation and my brain is mush.)


  23. Love the change! It has a rhythm that bounces around in your head and stays with you. I think my great-nephew will love it! 😉


  24. marrisard

    I like the change. It’s more catchy and leaves you wondering about more than just one thing.


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