Titles are worse than summaries, taglines, or pitch packets. A title has to grab you, has to promise something about the story, has to invoke an instant reaction from a reader, so they’ll pick up your book and get a look at the pretty cover, or the blurb that makes them want to buy it.
Naming books is like naming children – unless something strange happens, they’re going to be stuck with that name for the rest of their lives. Sure, some of us do things like randomly rename ourselves, or get packaged up into omnibus editions. But by and large, you’re making a decision that is going to influence everyone that book ever comes in contact with, and you don’t want to get your manuscript beaten up on the playground.
My current working title for this manuscript is The Memory Keeper. There’s nothing wrong with that title, but it rings kind of boring in my ears. It tells you something about the story, but makes it seem distant, as though the grand adventure has passed, and someone is telling you about it. That’s absolutely nothing like the story itself, and I can’t saddle my book with a title that makes it sound like a pensioner recounting his glory days of hunting mutant river otters. This story is about movement, fighting, the family you make, and the home that finds you, even if you can’t stay in one place. It’s not a stationary story, and it needs a title with some hustle and flow.
Because it’s such a stumble for me, I decided to take the main concepts and keywords that jumped out at me and write them out on Post-It notes, so I can shuffle them around and play with the language until I find something. Even the notes for this book are fidgety, it seems.
After careful consideration, the only possible title has been chosen:
Jessup’s Wasted Running Memory of Dust Stained Wind
I’ll hit on just the right title soon enough, and then this poor book will finally have a name of its own. Until then, I’ll just keep adding to the Post-It’s. But I probably won’t go with For God’s Sake, Please Buy Two Copies, either.