Publication Process: Titles

I’ll be the first to admit that titles aren’t my strong suit. In fact, I think there’s only a couple with which I was particularly pleased.

“Early Winter, Near Jen-li Village” was named that because I’d been reading Chinese poetry, and the titles of their poems often looked like that….when and where they wrote the poem, almost like a journal entry. I expected to be told I should change the name, and was surprised when Fantasy Magazine didn’t ask.

“Of Ambergris, Blood, and Brandy” was written under the working title of “The City Under the Sea”. I changed it to the former when I wrote that phrase in the midst of the story. It was a reference to the way the hero smelled, believe it or not. Yes, the title came from the guy’s smell.

And that title worked for the novelette version of that story. When it came to the novel version, it hasn’t done as well. Although the novel contract is written as Of Ambergris, Blood, and Brandy, I was quickly told that it was a bit unwieldly for a book cover, and we shortened it to Of Blood and Brandy.

Today I heard from my editor at Random Penguin that the sales department weren’t wild about that one either, but that they loved The Golden City. So….without much ado, that’s the new title for my novel.

I think my editor expected me to quibble more, but I didn’t for 3 reasons.
1) I’ve never been particularly good at naming.
2) They know better than I do what works on the cover of a book.
3) I want to go with something they’ll be enthusiastic about.

This is just one of those things writers should get used to. Titles change. Don’t get all het up about it.

Now I have to go change the bio on every web-site I’m on to reflect the new title. That’ll keep me out of trouble for a while.

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