Monday, November 12, 2012

Choosing a title, and my brand-new official one.

My hubby and I watched the movie SKYFALL on Friday. As I was walking out of the theater, wanna know what struck me the most in the movie? The ability to breathe new life into a 50 year old franchise? That it had the biggest 007 opening of all time? *Gasp* Who died?

Nope. It was THE TITLE. (Which may or may not have been a direct result of me recently focusing so much on title.)

SKYFALL is not just a great title-- it's INCREDIBLE. Memorable. Intriguing. Pulls you in.

What is interesting about the title, is WHAT was called Skyfall. It wasn't the name of the secret plan. It wasn't the name of the bad guy. It wasn't the name of the object they needed. It was the name of his childhood home. It could've been named a million things that would've fit the look of the home better, but Skyfall fit the mood of the movie better. It even fit the theme.

I imagine that as they were brainstorming names for this movie that didn't have a plan / object they could go to for a great name, they started looking at word combinations that fit the movie, and then found a place to put it. In this case, a location. And it worked. I can't say I totally bought that his childhood home was named Skyfall, but the name definitely made me want to see the movie. And that's what really matters, right?

I guess my point is, when you're brainstorming titles, don't limit yourself. Look into things outside of the obvious in your book. Heck, even look outside of what's in your book! If it truly fits the feel of your book, it will work in your book.

Now, a little update on my own title.

My book has been named THROUGH THE BOMB'S BREATH for as long as it's had a title. At one point, the cover team thought that something wasn't quite right. All the pieces weren't quite falling into place. So they asked for alternate titles. It was hard enough to title it the first time! How in the world was I supposed to come up with even more?! I sent.... maybe eight. After a couple of weeks, they decided to keep my title. I was so relieved!

I knew it might come up again. I was with a bunch of writers having a write night, and mentioned how hard titling my book was. They said they bet that we could brainstorm 100 titles. I think I actually snorted. We set to work, and stopped at... you guessed it! 100. The difference? We looked outside of the box.

Then my book got to marketing, and they decided something wasn't all the way right with the title. They worried that it wouldn't be seen in the right context, and people would think it was a darker book than it was.When they asked for us to look at titles, I narrowed that list of 100 down to 40 and sent it to my editor. She gave me a list of probably 20-30 more. I came up with about 20 more. Then we narrowed it down to a dozen.

I'm not gonna lie. I've told my title to hundreds of people in the past year and a half, and I've seen their reactions. I know it's a good title because of the look on people's faces when I tell them. So I was a little (okay, a lot) afraid to change to an untested title. And since we only had about 48 hours to come up with a new one, there wasn't much time. I emailed everyone I could think of who had MG aged kids and begged them to have their kids vote for their favorite of the twelve. I took ballots to my local elementary school's 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classes. A sweet author / teacher in Ohio took it to 5 classes at her elementary school. In the end, I had votes from 460 kids, and titles that showed very clear winners.

I gave that info to my editor, who then shared it with marketing, and I FELT GOOD. It no longer mattered to me which of them was chosen. I now had tested titles.

Marketing, sales, my cover team, my editor-- everyone fell in love with the same title. Oh my gosh. I'm getting goose bumps writing this. The one they fell in love with, when used as SERIES TITLE, fixed everything. It was the missing piece. The book title WAS exactly right-- it was just missing the series title. Without further ado, I present to you my brand-spakin' new title.

SKY JUMPERS book 1: THROUGH THE BOMB'S BREATH

It makes me giddy to see my title! Every time I look at it, everything feels exactly, completely, finally right.

37 comments:

Valerie Hartman said...

You rock! So glad you are enjoying the process and feeling settled with the heavy hitter details!

Tracey Joseph said...

I love this post. I think it's really cool you had kids vote. It's always really interesting to me how titles are chosen. Your series title is awesome,Peggy. Thanks for sharing.

Julie Luek said...

Good post. I have a working title on my WIP that I really don't like, but am having a heck of a time coming up with something I do like. I'm hoping CPs and betas will have better suggestions. I love the title of your book! Yay for the voting process.

Suzanne Furness said...

Titles can be tricky things but it is so important to get them right. Glad you've nailed yours it was a great idea to get feedback from the kids too.

Donna Hosie said...

I have pages and pages of crossed out titles. It is fun to see yours was such a collaborative effort.

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

Peggy I love it! I like that you got to keep Through The Bomb's Breath as well.

S.P. Bowers said...

Wow, what an effort you made! Still it does look exactly right. Congrats on finding that.

Kristine said...

SO AWESOME!!

Nancy Thompson said...

That's perfect! I'm glad it all worked out for you. I know for my own title, it just felt right all the way around. I mean, the entire book was about the characters making stupid mistakes, so it fit. And everyone always complimented me on it from day 1. I was having a hard time with book 2, then 2 days ago, it finally clicked, and I think it finally feels right. But man, can titles every be hard. And they mean EVERYTHING.

Jenny S. Morris said...

I LOVE that title!!! Love it! My boys would want to pick up Sky Jumpers in a minute. And good for you and the marketing team for doing such great research!

mooderino said...

The last Bond had probably the worst title ever.

mood
Moody Writing

Charlie Holmberg said...

Wow!! I can't imagine coming up with so many titles! So excited for you and the new title, I like. Awesome that you had kids vote, too. :)

Faith E. Hough said...

I love it. :)

Kimberlee Turley said...

I love short titles and single word titles.

I do wonder how many title renames are because of exposure during the querying process and how many really are just weaker than what they could be?

prerna pickett said...

that's so exciting! I can't believe how much time and effort goes into picking a title...crazy!

Lauren said...

Love the series title (Sky Jumpers is super cool), and I'm so glad that you found one that you love. I'm still working on my title for my current (NaNoWriMo) WIP.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Love your new title. And hearing how you came up with it and your ideas about a title. My current one is: New story. Until I think of one.

Sara B. Larson said...

Very cool! I love the series name. And what a great idea to have kids vote. I'm glad it all worked out so well! :-)

The Golden Eagle said...

That's an awesome title!

Nicole said...

Congrats! Love the title! As I was reading the post, I thought "I FELT GOOD" was going to be your title because it was cap'd - haha. ;)

Cindy Dwyer said...

I'm so happy for you. I felt the same way when I finally stumbled upon the title for my last ms. Perfect, perfect, perfect. I still get all smiley when I think about my title and I don't even have an agent yet!

BECKY said...

Peggy....you have a new profile photo! You were pretty in your other one, and of course pretty in this one! Now I can't remember what you used to look like in the older one, though! Does any of that make any sense?? Great post!

Iain said...

I'm very impressed with the length you went to to find the right title. :o)
I recall reading somewhere that a series name and a subtitle of the book worked was the way to go. I think you've got the title spot on :o)

Anne said...

Love the title! :)

Steph Sessa said...

Titles are so hard! I've changed my title a few times but I still don't know if it's quite right. I know people like my title, but I don't know if it completely encompasses the book. But your title is just awesome!!

Erin Apelu said...

First, I absolutely LOVED Skyfall. I had never seen a 007 movie but I was intrigued by this one. And when they first mentioned Skyfall to 007 I was like, "what the heck? Am I missing something here? What is Skyfall?" It was so unexpected.

Second, Peggy, once again, YOU ROCK!!! I dream to one day be as awesome as you. I love your title! I can't wait to buy it this fall!

Caryn Caldwell said...

Love it! You're right; the "Sky Jumpers" addition really brings it to life. And now you know you have the best title you could possibly have for your book - and it's even the one you wanted! That's got to be a relief. No wonder you're giddy.

Great story! :-)

Shallee said...

Yay! So glad you finally found something perfect that everyone loves. I love it too. :)

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

TOTALLY GREAT!!! Wow! How can a couple little words make such a difference, but they do! I think you've got a real winner of a title, Peggy! So exciting :)

Jeff Hargett said...

Love it! And I'm glad you're happy with it. That makes all the difference in the world.

Jessie Humphries said...

It's so awesome to see you so pumped about your title, after all the anxiety and heartache you had to endure! Oh and, I'm still waiting for you...:)

Rachelle said...

Awesome! I love that title. It seriously boggles my mind that you were able to come up with that many different titles. I need to brainstorm with you! :)

Tara Tyler said...

a title is of supreme importance! sky jumpers hooks me and bombs breath seals it!

skyfall is an awesome title, from first ibheard it!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Excellent title. I think it would grab my son's attention.

Bea Sempere (Denise Baer) said...

You are truly enjoying each step of the process. Nice title. I'm glad it worked out for you.

Have a great day!

Elana Johnson said...

Congrats on a great title! I can't wait to read it!

Brianna said...

So exciting! I love the title.