Another mistake I’ve seen authors make is to become too attached to a particular title that they won’t even consider anything else. Sure, it is important to include a catchy or insightful title (and subtitle) with your book proposal. You want to capture that literary agent’s immediate attention. However, chances are that title that you’ve spent so much time creating and soliciting advice about from friends, family, and acquaintances won’t make it past the initial publishing committee. Obviously, your book’s title is going to be one of its first selling points. Because of this, publishers spend hours upon hours in meetings devoted to titling your book. Believe me, I’ve been there. Titling meetings are among the most boring and oftentimes frustrating experiences that any acquisitions editor or publisher has to endure. But it is a very necessary evil.
It typically works like this. Your acquisitions editor asks you to brainstorm four or five additional titles that might work. He or she then brings your list into the titling meeting, which usually consist of the publisher, the sales directors, marketing and publicity manager, your publicist assigned to your book, and often the cover design team as well. They go back and forth, hem and haw, and come up with some suggestions of their own. Your acquisitions editor then goes back to you with the title options the team has created and solicits your opinion. More often than not, the title of your published book will not be the one you had originally proposed. However, I have seen occasions where after all this work, the team agrees that the initial title will work after all and runs with it.
This can be very frustrating and very time-consuming. Remember, although the material is your own, the publisher reserves the right to make all final decisions about how your book is titled and packaged. If you are adamantly against a particular title, be able to articulate why. It is in your best interests do so without sounding too defensive. Ultimately though, everyone wants you to be happy with any decisions made about your book…including the title. Publishing is a very pseudo-collaborative process and generally, when all is said and done, things work out nicely for all parties involved.
Just remember: the title is one of the most important selling factors for your book. As frustrating as the process often is, the best thing an author can be is flexible. That way, it’s a win/win situation for everyone.