Sunday, November 13, 2011

Really Good Authors! Really Bad Titles

People tell you not to judge a book by its cover. Or, for that matter, to reject a book for its title. For many authors, though, creating a captivating title for a new novel is often one of the hardest steps in the writing process. And they are among good company.

The website Flavorwire is one of many to have recently published articles about some of the best worst first titles for famous novels of the past. For example, publishers weren't sure anyone would touch a book called Trimalchio in West Egg, but Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires didn't really work either. So they bounced around One the Road to West Egg. Then someone suggested Under the Red, White, and Blue, and, somewhere towards the end, The High-Bouncing Lover. Before it went to press, F. Scott Fitzgerald finally agreed that The Great Gatsby was the proper name for his new novel.

In the early 1800s, Jane Austen was pretty set on calling her second book First Impressions, but her publisher insisted Pride and Prejudice was more fitting.

William Golding first submitted his novel, Strangers from Within, to Faber and Faber for consideration. An editor suggested Lord of the Flies sounded more enticing.

Not all titles change because they lack aesthetic flare, however. Sometimes authors switch titles to remain unique. The phrase "catch-22?" The one we all use because of Joseph Heller's book of the same name? It was originally Catch-11, but Heller didn't want anyone confusing his novel with the recent release of the original Ocean's Eleven film. Then Heller tried for Catch-18. But Leon Uris' Mila 18 had also just been released. So Catch-22 it was.

Suddenly all the silly names you thought of for your first piece don't seem so strange, do they?

Read the full list of crazy titles here.

No comments:

Post a Comment