Titling a Book

What’s in a title?

Titling books can be hard. Have you ever wondered how authors come up with titles for their books? Well here’s a secret for you: It’s most often the publisher that titles a book and not the author. That’s not to say that sometimes we don’t actually end up using a title that an author has suggested, but the majority of the time, the final title of a book ends up being different than what the book was named in its infantile stage—the time from when the idea for the book was conceived and proposed through the early stages of the book’s production.

Another thing you might be surprised to know is that it’s never just one person that decides on the title. On the F+W Craft Team (which encompasses North Light Craft, KP Craft and Memory Makers) we actually have a team of people get together and hash out several book titles for a particular season all at one time. (Book publication dates are lumped into two seasons—Fall and Spring). This team is made up of the book’s editor as well as some other editors on the Craft Team, the book’s designer (and yep, some other designers from the team, too), sales people, marketing people and our Managing Editor, Editorial Director and Community Leader. Because you see, a title not only has to make sense and give you an idea what the book is about, it also has to look pretty on the cover (often times a title sounds better when you say it than it actually looks when you write it out), and it has to have consumer appeal. Oh, and be searchable online. And, of course, it should stand out and not be too similar to what else is on the shelf.

Back to the author . . . We really do try to work with the author to make sure that they like the title, too, since it is their book and we want them be excited about selling it. We ask them for at least five title ideas before the meeting as well as words they would like to see in the title and words they definitely don’t want in the title. After the meeting, we run the title we came up with past the author before making it official.

Titling a book can be easy at times but at other times it can take more than one meeting for everyone to come to an agreement. A title has many jobs to do so it’s an important decision that is given the care and respect that it needs.

So the next time you are wondering where a particular title came from, consider all the things that that title has to do. What are some of your favorite titles and what is it about them that you like?


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2 Responses to Titling a Book

  1. thecreativebeast says:

    This is fascinating to know! I can see (hear?!?) how a book title will SOUND differently out loud than being SEEN with the eyes. I guess I like craft book titles that are to the point such as “Where Women Create” and “Creative Time and Space”. Each book addresses exactly what the title says =-)

    Thank you for sharing this glimpse into book titles!

  2. Tonia Davenport says:

    Thanks for your comment, CreativeBeast. It’s always good to hear there are titles that resonate with our readers. For me, there’s always a challenging fine line between finding a title that says exactly what the book is, and one that isn’t too academic or dull sounding.