Book titles have always intrigued me. I can’t help but wonder about the inspirations, the meanings, the thought processes behind each one. While I can appreciate simple ones like The Shining and Little Women, I’m especially drawn to those with double meanings, such as Carol Goodman’s The Lake of Dead Languages.
Nowadays, a good title can mean even more than it once did. In the 18th and 19th centuries, for instance, it was perfectly acceptable for novels to be named after the protagonist, such as The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders (1722) and Jane Eyre (1847). Although this practice is still witnessed today – consider the much-lauded The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (2008) – it seems that most publishers are choosing much more compelling titles, especially one-word entities like the oft-mentioned Twilight (2006) – titles that entice readers to pick up a particular book and hopefully purchase it.
Now, you might be wondering why I’m even thinking about this today. After all, I’m not even finished the final revision of my novel yet. Well, I suppose I’ve just realized that it’s never too early to choose a title. The problem is... I thought that I had. For years now, I’ve been laboring under the assumption that Hollow Souls was the perfect title for my book – it’s even got a double meaning! But, as I expressed on my Ruby Hollow blog today, I’m seriously beginning to question it. It was my beta readers’ concerns about the title that initially got me thinking about other possibilities... and Donna Hole’s recent post that made me decide to do something about it.
So, as I asked on my other blog, I’m wondering what others think about this matter. Should I even be focusing on this right now? How critical is a title at this stage anyway? Won’t an agent or editor want to change it no matter what I call it now? Or could it help differentiate me (or my work) in the query slush pile? Does it matter that the title refers to my protagonist’s hollowness as well as the residents of Ruby Hollow? Is it worse that Hollow Souls might send the wrong message about my novel, which is what some beta readers have suggested? Would Ruby Hollow be better – or should I keep looking? Oh, what’s a befuddled wannabe novelist to do?
4 hours ago