Category Archives: Titles

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.

So . . . THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON

is now

*drum roll*

THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT

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.

_________________________________

penny3

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.

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Filed under Editing and Revising, Titles, Writing

Title Search

titleNo, I’m not talking about real estate. I’m talking about the book title variety.books

Sometimes the title to a book comes first.

That’s how it happened with my picture book Snuggle Mountain, I was watching my daughter climb my bed one morning and I thought, I bet my bed looks like a mountain. Boom. I drafted a story about a little girl’s metaphoric climb up her parent’s bed to wake the two headed giant. There was never any question. Snuggle Mountain was the title.snuggle

Evidence of Things Not Seen has had a much different journey.

My first stirrings of this book came from a dream that woke me up. A boy was standing in the middle of a pull out by the side of a road. Just standing there. Alone.

I remember getting up and writing the first bits of a story. (It is still in the novel.) Gradually, I began to place other people in that pull-out, building the world of the novel in that strange patch of dirt.

When I finally came to the end of the first draft, I titled it The Stillwell Pull-out because the Stillwell Ranch butted up against that pull-out. Truth be told, I had called it The Pull-Out but if you Google those words you will find pornographic pictures, not a patch of dirt by the side of the road.

Title aside, I tucked back into another revision of the novel because I’d found a problem with the ending. Namely, that I’d wrapped it up too neatly. And the whole story was being choked by a big red bow at the end.

Thing was, that last section of the novel was called Particles and it held the key to my next draft. I dug into the next revision and remembered that original dream. The boy standing in the pull-out. Tommy.

He was missing. He’d gone missing from the pull-out and he was the thread that connected all these stories. Not only that, he was a physics geek, mostly recently obsessed with particle physics. No one had any idea of where Tommy was but because of his obsession with physics, some kids dealt with his disappearance by speculating that he went into another dimension.

I took the novel down to the floorboards and rebuilt it.

When it was “finished,” I titled it Particles because of Tommy’s obsession with particle physics and because I wrote the novel in multiple viewpoints like particles in space. I sent it to Erin Murphy who sent it to Joy Peskin at Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers who loved it (see The Call).

After the acquisitions meeting, Joy told me that the sales and marketing folks were not wild about the title and that she’d said, “No problem. There are lots of title possibilities on the pages of the novel.” I love that she met their hesitation with a positive attitude. It helped me not worry. I knew we’d find a title and I wasn’t attached to Particles. (Word to the wise: Unless it’s perfect, don’t get attached to the title).

Sure enough, when she sent me the first edits, she had circled a bunch of possible titles that were right there in the pages: Anything is Possible; Everything Can Be Explained; The Space Between.titles

I tried them on. I polled friends. Anything is Possible sounded like that Stephen Sondheim musical Anyone Can Whistle. I wasn’t sure I could carry off the irony of a title like Everything Can Be Explained (ahem) by Lindsey Lane. And while I liked The Space Between, sales and marketing was ‘meh’ about it.

Back to the drawing board. Fortunately, Joy went to the drawing board with Angus Killick, associate publisher. She threw out about hundred title ideas, read sections of the book and talked about the ideas in the book. (I still can’t decide if I would have like to be in that meeting.)

And then she hit upon it. Evidence of Things Not Seen. It comes from a quote in the Bible: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) From the moment I read it, I knew it was perfect.

Why?

Because the book is about mystery, about faith, about carrying on, about finding small things that buoy us up even in the face of hardship.

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