Morphing a good title into the perfect title

May 6, 2009

Thanks for all the feedback on my working title, Madame or Mademoiselle? A Woman’s Solo Journey Through Africa.

Here’s the consensus: Readers seemed to like the subtitle, A Woman’s Solo Journey Through Africa. But not everyone was satisfied with the first half of the title, Madame or Mademoiselle?

It’s too long, some critics said. It’s not easy to pronounce out loud. And it might discourage potential male readers from buying the book.

This was helpful criticism. More than anything, it reinforced my gut feeling, that the first half of the title is decent, but not perfect. And that’s what I’m looking for — the perfect title.

The theme behind the title, however, seemed to go over well. So I’m sticking with the theme, continuing to write and hoping a title will come to me as I put words on the page. If it doesn’t, I might just be back here asking y’all to participate in a brainstorming session.

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    0 Replies to “Morphing a good title into the perfect title”

    • Titles are tough, aren’t they? I do like your title, though. Of course, no matter what you choose, your editor gets final pick! But at least you’ll have a great title to query them with, if you haven’t started querying yet.

      • Alexis Grant says:

        Good point that my editor gets final say! But I want it to be as close to perfect as possible — since that makes it all the more likely that a publisher will want it. Thanks for advice!

    • julielomoe says:

      I agree with those who like the second half of your title, not the first. But I think the title can wait till further down the road when you’ve got more written – unless you’re planning to market and sell a proposal before you finish the book. Is that what you’re planning to do? As a non-fiction writer, you’re fortunate to have that option.

    • I have to agree – I like the second half more than the first half. The first half seems like a magazine article . . .

    • alan chin says:

      Alexis, one comment about your blog page. I tried finding your name on the page, but I could only find one tiny mention. If I hadn’t known before coming here, that is if I had just stumbled onto this page, I would have no idea who’s blog it was.

      Writer’s don’t just sell books. They sell themselves. Think about putting your name in big letters up at the top, with maybe a picture? Those things give me a false impression that I know something about you, and that’s important.

    • alan chin says:

      I like short, snappy titles. So if were me, I would shorten it to A Woman’s Journey Through Africa. Or even, My Journey Through Africa.
      It still doesn’t twirl my skirt, even though I’ve spent time in Africa and love reading about it.

      But that’s why there is chocolate and vanilla. People like different things.

      alan chin

    • IHi Alexis–I second Alan’s comment about your name and photo higher on the page. And if you had a travel blog while you took your trip, don’t you already have enough material to get that proposal and query letter written? And you probably have tons of photos, right? I’d kill to have that kind of material for a nonfiction proposal. Well, okay, not really kill, but you know what I mean. Why are you dawdling, girl?


      • Alexis Grant says:

        I’m not dawdling!!! 🙂 I do have lots of material from my blog — tons! I’m in the midst of putting it altogether.

        I’ve already written the proposal and the query letter. I’m just finishing up sample chapters before I send them out.

        Tried to make the name/photo higher… But am working on getting a photo for my banner that does it even better. Thanks for feedback

    • Good idea – to get feedback from your readers on a title. Also another obvious benefit of having a popular blog. The larger the readership of your blog, the more guaranteed success of your published books will be.

      Marvin D Wilson

    • Heather says:

      Hey Lexi,

      I have to agree with what you summarized from the other readers – I really like the 2nd half of your title (the subtitle), but I don’t LOVE the main title. After following your adventures in Africa pretty regularly, I don’t feel like the “Madame or Mademoiselle?” accurately reflects the breadth and depth of your experiences, or conveys the adventurousnessof your journey – even though I know you did receive a significant amount of marriage proposals along the way!

      Unfortunately, I don’t have a replacement title to suggest, but I’ll keep thinking.


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