Coming up with a title for a story is not something I am good at. When starting a first draft, I type the main character’s name at the top of the page, centered and underlined, and hope that a better title will suggest itself as I go along (it never does).
Fun Facts about titles:
This was what William Golding’s first novel was called when it was rescued from the slush pile at Faber and Faber. Editor Charles Monteith prescribed some rewriting and an alteration of the title to Lord of the Flies.
Tolstoy’s incongruously cheerful projected title for War and Peace, which was actually first published under the title 1805.
via Beyond the Margins:
Finding (and Losing) Book Titles
By Randy Susan Meyers
Picture having a baby. You named that baby so soon after conception. Dear little Lev. It’s the Russian version of your father’s name. It has great meaning. Birth! The nurse places him in your arms. She smiles. Than she says, “Change his name. He sounds too much like a Jewish cowboy.”
For the effort most authors put into titling their book, you’d think they’d get to see it splashed across the cover—but an overwhelming amount of us are told by our editors, “Love the book, hate the title. Find another one.”
Marianne Leone says she “wanted JESSE: A MOTHER’S STORY to be THE RUNNING MADONNA, but Simon & Schuster thought it sounded like a workout book by the rock star.”
In my unscientific study, only 17% of the author-respondents were able to keep their chosen titles. My original title for THE MURDERER’S DAUGHTERS was ADOPTING ADULTS, which I was told sounded like a self-help book. (Oh, they were right on the money there.) My editor chose the final title, tacking on ‘a novel’ when I insisted people would think it was a mystery.