With 85,000 words down and only 10,000 or so to go, I figured it was time to start throwing out titles for the new book, just to see what the brass thought. The last one went through dozens of names before we (mostly) agreed on The Sunshine Man, even though in retrospect something more appealing to the public should probably have been sought. I say this as I still have two thousand copies of Sunshine sitting in a garage I rent out for the purpose in Wyalusing, PA. If you want one, just go grab it. I leave the padlock undone on purpose, so there’s no need to call the cops. Take as many as you like.
Anyway, this book naming business has long been my Achilles’ heel, and as this new book doesn’t have a snappy character or town name that immediately would lend itself to front the tale, I’ve had to go through a great many volleys with the people at Histrionic Press, my publisher. Here is where we’ve been so far:
It started out simply as:
There’s a minor character in the book who’s former Navy that factors into the framework stunningly in the third act. My agent said it would give the wrong impression, as it is also the name of a sexual position.
So I changed it to:
They said this was too nautical, and also had similar sexual connotation, which seemed to them inappropriate for my novel largely set in a day care center in Topeka.
Abandoning the admiral’s involvement, I tried:
“This is stupid,” my agent told me. The publisher never saw this option at all.
This went over better, even if it sounds a bit flowery and pretentiously vague. I’d almost convinced everyone why this fit (which was a masterpiece of doubletalk and horseshit on my part) when it was discovered that this was the name of a Joni Mitchell album from the 70s, so it was pulled off the table.
The book then became:
The president of Histrionics, Samuel Millsberg, said this title sounded like “something Dickens pissed out in his sleep.” I never did quite get that, but it led me smoothly to the next title option:
The publisher never saw this either.
I then tossed them:
This was rejected out of hand as narcissistic and moronic.
No one could understand this one, and I couldn’t explain it.
Even though one of the characters does refer to himself this way once in the book, my editor thought it wasn’t a strong enough reason to put it on the cover.
Again, went over okay, until it was found this too was the name of a Joni Mitchell album. I pulled a list of her records off the internet for personal reference after this second mistake.
Finally I hit on one everyone could agree with:
Problem is this wasn’t something I pitched, it was my description of a silly ass cooking show I’d just seen on The Food Channel, and my agent thought it fit. I fired that asshole, and so had to start over pitching the old titles at the new agent.
So I figure maybe I’ll just wait until it’s done and then look for a phrase in my Keats or Milton that seems somewhat applicable. That’s a reliable plan of action, if a bit tedious, as you are required to read a lot of Keats and Milton to do it. Any thoughts? Suggestions? I realize you haven’t read the manuscript (and don’t ask to, you reader’s copy gathering scum), but any input would be helpful.
As for me, back to the Smith Corona!