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How My Publisher Chose My Book Title

This week I've been answering some of your questions about in-house edits, specifically how I'm handling my first set of macro edits/rewrites.

I saved the final question for today, because I wanted to spend a little more time on it. The question came from T. Anne: Was The Preacher's Bride your working title and if not who came up with it?

Let me just say this first: coming up with titles is NOT something I'm good at. When I read some of your book titles posted on your blogs, I'm absolutely blown away by your creativity (and also slightly jealous that I can't think of deep, meaningful titles for my books!)

The first title I came up with was Bunyan's Bride--simple and straightforward. Since my book is inspired by the love story of the real John Bunyan (the author of Pilgrim's Progress), I thought Bunyan's Bride would capture the essence of my story.

However, when I entered my book into the Genesis Contest last spring, I decided I needed something a little more romantic, so I changed the title to My Elizabeth, My Beloved. At the end of his life, John Bunyan refers to his wife in those exact terms, so I thought it sounded very 1600's and sweet.

Then Rachelle offered me representation and the first thing she told me to do was change the title of my book to something shorter and less clumsy. Since she was sending my book proposal to Bethany House, she encouraged me to go to Bethany House's website, study their titles, and get an idea of what they use and what's popular.

Finally, after researching and brainstorming with my agent, we decided on The Preacher's Bride and that's what we sent to the acquisitions editor. It turns out this title fits the angle of the story better. Because my book is a fictionalized account of a wonderful love story from history (and for a myriad of other reasons to long to discuss in this post), I've agreed to change Bunyan's name.

After contract, I quickly learned the publishing house would have the final title decision. Some authors might find a title change frustrating, especially after laboring to find the perfect fit for their story. But, as I mentioned, titles aren't my forte. I figured if the Title Committee could find something better, I'd trust their judgement.

My acquisition editor emailed me the week before the Title Committee was due to meet. He asked me to come up with a list of additional title suggestions. So in my bumbling, but hopefully cooperative way, I emailed him a list of "possibilities." He graciously thanked me (instead of laughing at my attempts!). Then he asked me to verify that the term "preacher" was indeed used during the 1600's as opposed to vicar or priest or some other form of address.

Although I was fairly certain, I scrambled to locate "proof." I wanted my editor to have a couple of primary sources he could take to Title Committee that would support using The Preacher's Bride as the official title. Fortunately, I was able to find proof within actual church records of the time, and I discovered a title of one of John Bunyan's books where he referred to himself as "Preacher."

The Title Committee met, and later that day my editor emailed me the news that the Title Committee had decided to go with The Preacher's Bride. Almost 11 months before the release of my book, the title is official.

Believe it or not, we're already working on the cover. But more about that in another post. . .

For today, I'd love to hear how you decide on your book titles! Do you have an easy time picking your titles? Or like me, do you struggle to find the perfect fit?

P.S. If you want a little extra help with your title, Writer's Digest has an excellent article this month called: 7 Tips to Land The Perfect Title for Your Novel.


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