Monday, June 17, 2013


When I talk about the publishing process at author visits, audiences are frequently surprised to learn that writers don’t necessarily choose the titles of their books. Authors make suggestions, but the publishing house has final say over what a book will be called. Editors and marketing people often reject titles based on concerns that a certain title will negatively affect sales. A good title peaks interest just like an attractive book cover. Serious thought should go into choosing just the right title to make your book stand out on crowded bookstore shelves.

This doesn’t mean, however, a young writer should spend hours mulling over a title before writing the first sentence. I usually advise young writers to brainstorm ideas for the perfect name after their writing is complete. Sometimes choosing a title can inspire a young author to revise a story. For example, if the piece is called “My Day at Busch Gardens,” maybe the story should include more details of the theme park than the road trip to Williamsburg and the food each family member ate at a restaurant along the way.

Thinking about a title and what it reveals about a story is a good way to focus a narrative. A fun way to practice this is to use a list of titles as writing prompts. Give your students the following list of titles and add some of your own. Ask them to choose a title and come up with a story that clearly reflects the suggested topic.  

A Tale of Two Tigers

The Snail and the Snake

A New Beginning

The Door to Winter  

Summer on a Spaceship

The Monster Under the Bed

Two Brave Friends

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