Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Working title--redux

[Bringing this bit from my previous post up to the top again, partly because I'm too busy reading KINDRED to write a whole new post, and partly because I'd love more answers (thanks to all who responded so far here or via email!).]

But about that working title, KINDRED. Book titles aren't subject to copyright. A search at for Blood Ties, for example, will bring up books by different authors sharing that title. Still, I'd rather have my own unique title, insofar as that's possible (with the making of books having no end, and it being a few hundred years since the printing of them began in earnest). The title KINDRED belongs to a published novel by Octavia Butler, and it is, in fact, where I snagged my working title sometime during 2004, the year I began writing Kindred (my Kindred).

Sharing the title (should a future publisher not go and change it anyway, which they're wont to do) would pose no problem had Ms. Butler's book been about banana boat men of the West Indies, say. But it's about slavery in the southern United States, and race relations, and blood ties extending across the color line. So is mine. Although that's about where the similarities end, they're strong enough, and Butler's book (a time-travel/historical) is well known enough, that should my novel be published I could very well spend the rest of my career telling people, "Yes, Kindred is about slavery... no, it's not that Kindred."

So for the past four years I've had my eyes peeled for a new working title--with the idea of leaving KINDRED as the overall series title, because it fits so darn well. I don't have a replacement title yet, though I have a long list of possibilities. Some have to do with the story situation, some with Ian Cameron, my main character. Others reflect various themes in the book--slavery (physical and spiritual), kinship and blood ties, being uppermost. A lot of them have to do with rivers, and crossing them (hence this blog's title).

I realize few have read more than an excerpt or two of the story, if that much, but a book's title is usually what makes me pull it off a shelf at Evangel or Barnes & Noble, to investigate further, when I know little or nothing else about it. A title is a first impression, so if one of these titles makes a good one, post a comment and let me know which, and why.

My top picks from a (much) longer list of possible titles, in no particular order:

Trouble the Water
Carolina Autumn
Carolina Road
Mountain Laurel
The Bones of Mountain Laurel
Canaan's Shore
There Is A River
The Wayfaring Son
The Leaf That's Blown
The Beautiful Shore
Wade In The Water
Rivers To Cross
Next of Kin
The Near Kinsman
The Wind-Drifted Branch
Coming Unto Jordan
Canaan's River
An Issue of Blood

I haven't tried an Amazon search for all of these titles to see if they're in use, and if so attached to what sort of book (though some I have), but again, if one of the above piques your interest, do let me know.


  1. I've just learned a very important lesson about not getting too attached to a title. I always thought that Happy Endings Inc. was a great title and would make my book stand out. But once the book was bought by a publisher and run through their marketing department, I realized how much it looks like tons of other romance novels on the market. So we came up with Stand-In Groom, which is the name of one other published novel: a secular romance that came out in 1997. While I wish that it was unique, that no one had ever come up with it, I'm just happy that I have a title that is unique amongst CBA-published romance novels.

    But you're right, a working title does need to catch an editor's eye, make them interested in reading your submission, tell them something about the book.

    From your list, the ones that catch my attention are:
    Trouble the Water
    The Beautiful Shore
    A Cord to Bind Me (leave off Weave--But is the book written from first person?)

    The ones I like least are:
    Carolina Autumn/Road (sounds like it's more about the setting than the characters)

    Bones of . . ., Issue of Blood. Next of Kin (all three of these sound more like suspense/murder-mystery novels)

    Canaan's Shore/River, Coming unto Jordan (unless it's actually set in the Holy Land, I don't think these titles work)

    Hope that helps!

  2. Kaye,

    Awesome feedback. Thank you for taking the time to explain why each title worked (or didn't) for you.

    Trouble The Water has been a top pick for most people who responded. That's good, because it's one of mine too (from the slave spiritual "Wade in the water").

    ***a working title does need to catch an editor's eye, make them interested in reading your submission, tell them something about the book.***

    True, and I'm aware it's likely to be changed from whatever I come up with now, if this book should get so far in the publishing process. I'm going to bring up "Kindred" if and when that time comes, either as a CBA book or as a title for the overall series.