Thursday, August 23, 2007

And the Title Is...

Ten Cents a Dance!

That's the newly official title of my second novel. A lot of people are surprised to find out that authors don’t get final say over what their title is. That’s not to say that the publishing house won’t go with what we suggest; for my first novel, I was really attached to Tallulah Falls, and fortunately the folks at Bloomsbury loved it, too. Simple as pie, warm fuzzies all around.

In her book The Forest for the Trees, former editor Betsy Lerner recounts the story of how Peter Benchley’s first novel got its title. How to convey the terrror of a great white shark hunting humans at a popular coastal resort? They tried Death in the Water and Leviathan Rising and just plain Leviathan and The Jaws of Death and, Mr. Benchley estimates, perhaps a hundred other suggestions. Even his dad got in on the act, with What Dat Noshin on My Laig? But whatever someone’s favorite was, someone else was sure to hate it. Finally, with the book about to go into production, a choice had to be made. The only title that everyone didn’t absolutely loathe was…Jaws.

Which now, of course, seems the one and only perfect title for that book.

Titling my second novel, while not as straightforward as the first, was thankfully not nearly as agonizing as the Jaws experience. The whole year I worked on this book, I called it Taxi Dancer, mostly because I had to call it something besides Second Novel and I couldn’t think of anything else. I kept waiting for inspiration to strike, but then in March the manuscript was finished, it was time to hand it in, and still lightning eluded me. Nobody at the publishing house was crazy about Taxi Dancer—which was OK with me, I didn’t like it, either. My editor came up with Ten Cents a Dance, and that proved to be the winner, to everyone’s great satisfaction!

Next week, I’ll write about the editing process (which I just finished—whew!—and which is why I’ve been absent a while from this blog!)

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