I Hate Titles

typewriterI am on the 3,457 draft of my current book-in-progress, which is why I sometimes look crazy and homeless. My agent will be prying the manuscript out of my hands soon, which means I should probably be thinking up a title. This isn’t to say it doesn’t have one. It does. I’ve typed words there in a big font at the top. And the title is fine. Just, you know, fine. But when you’ve written 3,457 drafts of something, you’re really shooting for better than “not awful.” You’d actually prefer “good” or even “really good.” The thing is, while I can make words tumble and dance the rest of the time, when it’s time to line up there at the top, they just refuse. They become unruly, mutinous even. It’s a disaster.

On top of that — and maybe you didn’t know this — authors don’t have final say over book titles. It’s considered a marketing decision. So whatever I pick might not even stick, but I just can’t help myself. I want to come up with something snazzy, something marketing people wouldn’t want to change for fear of disturbing its snazzy-ness. But there’s so much pressure on those few words. They have to reflect the overall theme and style of the book. They must be catchy, memorable, intriguing. They must fit on a book cover and not make the artist assigned to you so crazy that he shows up at your house in the middle of the night with violence in his heart. No wonder the words won’t cooperate. They’re terrified and refusing to come out of the dressing room. I don’t blame them.

But still we must try. And try and try and try.