I had an email earlier this week from Casablanca Editor Deb Werksman saying the title of my September 2009 release (formerly SECOND CHANCES) needed to be changed. She wanted me to brainstorm a new title.
Now, after several years of publishing books, I'm used to the fact that titles frequently get changed. Most of my titles have been. Unseen Dangers became To Love, Honor and Defend. Always There was changed to Danger at Her Door. Hearts on Fire became Enemy at Her Door and then in a last minute move was changed to Duty To Protect. And so on and so on...
I understand fully why titles are changed. It's all about marketing and capturing the attention of readers. Titles convey more than just the subject of the plot. A good title also reflects the mood, the genre, the takeaway message. A great title can become a catch phrase that pumps more marketing power behind the book. How many variations of Who Moved My Cheese? did we see after that book hit the bestsellers list? The movie The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly has seen numerous reincarnations and variations of that title. Catch-22 entered the English lexicon because of the book of the same name. The first "For Dummies" book spawned a legion of spin-off titles on every imaginable topic. The Joy of Cooking led to The Joy of Sex and later the Joy of just about anything else you can imagine. You get the idea. Why, even the name of the romance line at Sourcebooks took its name from the title of a classic romance movie. Casablanca says romance to millions of potential readers.
But understanding the need to change a title, the desire to give a book a title that will help position it in the marketplace and intrigue and captivate potential book buyers doesn't mean the process doesn't somehow feel ... strange. After all, I picked the title Second Chances many years ago. I've lived with that title, worked with that title, submitted with that title, entered contests with that title. It's almost as if someone came to you and told you that because there were too many Taylors in your child's class, you had to rename your child. You don't rename your children after years with their given name! Taylor is your child's name. It's permanent. (Well, until they become a rap star and change their name to Ice Cube or L'il Willie or something.)
So changing Second Chance to anything else felt awkward to start with. But because I'm bad at titles anyway (and rather picky), I had a hard time coming up with anything. When my very first title was changed, (To Love Honor and Defend), I had a hard time getting used to the new title. Since then I've learned not to get attached to any of my titles. But Second Chances was a title from way back when. The book was one of my first, and I'd had time to grow fond of it.
I haven't heard back from Deb yet what the new title will be, but I'm sure, like with my other changed titles, acceptance and fondness will come with time and familiarity. Stay tuned for a future announcement of my new and improved title!