Sunday, July 13, 2014

Title Madness - HELP!


Last week (or maybe it was the week before) I decided I'm changing the title of my book again. Again! Which is insane because I really love my current title. So why would I change it? AGAIN? (Other than the fact that I have serious commitment issues?)

I'm just going to take a risk and tell you my current title, and the title I'm considering switching over to, because I can't really explain where I'm coming from without disclosing those details. But feel free to skip this explanation and go straight to the highlighted questions below if you don't feel like reading my endless monologue here, because that's where I need help.

For the last couple of months I have called my book There Is No Dawn. I fell in love with this title for a number of reasons:

  1. There is No Dawn immediately makes you think, "Why? Why isn't there a dawn?" Titles that ignite questions are more likely to compel readers to pick up your book to learn more.
  2. Even though the title contains four words, each word is monosyllabic and easy to remember. Basically, the title is simple and to the point.
  3. In one tension-building scene of my manuscript, my male lead states "There will be no midnight. There is no dawn." I think it's pretty cool as a writer if you can manage to connect your title to a meaningful quote.
  4. I come from the world of classy, poetic titles, like "To Kill a Mockingbird," "The Bridge to Terabithia," "A Wrinkle in Time," etc., so it's natural for me to gravitate to titles that evoke intriguing imagery and come complete with prepositions. 
  5. The title is a double entendre, given that the four sisters' biological mother, Dawnetta ("Dawn") is missing. They will search for her in Book 4. 
That's a pretty good list, and it's easy to think "Sounds like you have a winner!" But here are some problems I came across:
  1. Even though I might be growing weary of the YA trend toward one-word titles (i.e. "Delirium," "Selection," "Divergent," etc.), it's a trend for a reason. Today's YA readers prefer more straight-forward, direct, edgier titles over the flowery titles of yester-year. Not to say longer titles don't still exist (i.e. The Forest of Hands and Teeth), but these seem to be the exception to the rule. Casing point: Every family member or friend of mine in the 30+ age group who heard my title There Is No Dawn was all over it, with comments such as "Ooh, intriguing," and "I'd definitely pick up a book with that title." Yet when I suggested the title to teens, the feedback was ...well..."meh." They all liked it, but thought it sounded more like a title for an older adult novel. My own 14 year-old daughter said that she loved the title, but it sounded like the name of a book that her teacher would make her read in school. Ouch.
  2. While There Is No Dawn might work well for a stand-alone novel, I need a title that works for a book that is part of a series. This changes the dynamic of my titling process a LOT, because I have to be able to spin off the title of Book 1 to create the titles for Book 2 and beyond (think Divergent/Insurgent/Allegiant, Ruby Red/Sapphire Blue/Emerald Green, and so on). If I name Book 1 There Is No Dawn, what do I call Book 2? There Is No Dusk? I can't think of any spin-offs that work for my sequels. 
  3. Yes, the title works well as a double-entendre, but the four sisters don't search for their mother until Book 4. Dawn--the person--is barely even alluded to in Book 1. Thus, There Is No Dawn, if I choose to use it, would be much more applicable to Book 4. 
The above issues were really starting to eat at me, and I finally came to the conclusion that, despite my love for There Is No Dawn, I need to change my title. Again. *long-suffering sigh* Then I was hit with an idea--a way to have my cake and eat it too. While teens aren't particularly drawn to flowery titles for books, they have no problem with flowery series-names. That's when I thought "I'll use There Is No Dawn as my series title! Brilliant!"

Or so I thought, until I said the following out-loud: "I'm reading the There Is No Dawn series." Damn. Going from the word "the" to "there" is awkward and choppy, and there is no way around it. Even if I changed over to chronicles, or books, or whatever, I'm always stuck with the word "The."

So here is where I am. Right now I am tentatively calling my quadrilogy the Reaching for Dawn series to take care of that cumbersome the-there combo. The title works on two levels: 1. The girls are trying to reach a certain destination/point of time in each book, and 2. The search for their missing mother Dawn is the larger thread in books 3 and 4.

As far as individual book titles, I'm leaning toward Diminished for book 1, Revived for book 2, Chilled for book 3, and Seared for book 4. But...I just don't know. My daughter got all excited and bouncy when she heard the title "Diminished," and she IS an avid reader of my genre, so that did give me a little confidence boost about it. And I do like it better than Spiraling. I like how the title connects with my MC's power, and the story line itself, considering the characters are trapped in a diminishing time loop. Overall, I feel like I could be content/comfortable with that title, and I think it aptly represents my book. But...I still feel like I need the opinion(s) of someone other than my own family, and FAST. For better or worse, my title will be engraved in stone (aka: printed on a book cover) in the next 3 weeks. So, HELP! I will be eternally grateful to anyone willing to tell me what you think. I don't care about books 2 through 4...I have plenty of time (years, even) to worry about those titles. I'm just worried about book 1.

So here is my question, short and sweet: Do you like the title DIMINISHED for a YA paranormal romance? Feel free to be honest--it's not like I gave birth to this title and will feel offended if you tell me it's ugly and wrinkly.

And what about Reaching for Dawn as a series title? Yay? Nay? If yay, the book would be called DIMINISHED (A Reaching for Dawn Novel)...or something to that effect.

Please someone tell me that you've gone through this title-changing psychosis with your own books. Because I'm seriously feeling like a crazy person. And insanity loves company.