When I first started writing ‘Drawing Danger’ I used the working title ‘When She was Very Young’ picking up on the main protagonist, Cate’s experience as a young child. I knew that wouldn’t be the title I would ultimately use, but it was useful to work with while I thought of something more suitable. I considered a title linked to the antagonist, but, not liking him at all, I really didn’t wish to exalt him so highly as to name a book after him! When I finally finished the book I came up with the title of ‘Drawing Danger’ and research showed that no one else had used that title. Happy Days.
That was not the case for the book I completed just before Drawing Danger. Every title I thought of was used before I managed to even write it or since writing it! I had to come up with a title for registering the copyright earlier this year, but I think it’s rather dull and so have decided not to publish it until I have found something better. The plot lends itself to a wide range of possibilities. If I had actually written it when I first created the characters and the plot, I might have succeeded in using some of the different titles I thought of, but I took so long to write it I lost out on many. The actual writing of the book only took 46 days to the first draft, but it was a long time coming.
It goes back to early 2005. When I was exploring sites in Australia I found this fabulous setting that I thought would be a great place to use at the beginning of a story. I left it sitting in my mind after returning to a busy job in the UK and took it no further. I was also disheartened by the fact that after writing two books during my year in Australia, which I planned to work on and improve with a view to approaching agents, I lost both in a house burglary. My laptop was stolen as well as my handbag (while I was in bed asleep) which contained the only other copy on my first ever memory stick. I have never been able to face writing them again – as yet, but will one day. What upset me the most about that burglary was that my stolen handbag contained a notebook with irreplaceable notes I’d gathered from an elderly uncle about my family and the only still existing photographs of my father as a young boy.
On a break from work in early 2009 I decided it was time to make a beginning on ‘the book’. I created the characters, decided on the plot outline and actually wrote a prologue (which eventually became embedded in the final section of book instead). That’s as far as I progressed as when I returned to work, my hours increased and my work load became more and more demanding. Working 75-80 hours left no time to work on the book.
On sleepless nights and in order to avoid thinking about all the things I had to do at work the next day I occasionally thought about titles I might choose when I did eventually get around to writing it. After discarding various options I decided on ‘The Accident’. However, first Chris Pavone and then C.L.Taylor published books with these titles. Both very different and enjoyable books – but nothing like mine. Time to rethink. I decided on ‘The Lie’, but once again C.L.Taylor brought out a book with this title. Again nothing like mine. I still hadn’t even written mine! I then thought about using ‘Missing’ but was not happy with this – it didn’t convey enough of the plot. Then of course CL Taylor published a book called ‘The Missing.’ By this time I had left my very demanding job and decided I should really get cracking on the writing, but I was very busy doing house renovations, both in the UK and Australia, so again I used the excuse of having insufficient time.
Eventually in 2016 I just took the bull by the horns and got on with writing it. I had to come up with a working title and chose a line from a nursery rhyme that is included as small part of the book (although I might now take that out). I even considered using it as the real title, but research showed that a number of writers had already used this title (or variations of it) and that several further writers were releasing books this year (2017) with the same title. Another one for the bin. I thought of ‘The Inheritance’, but again discovered this title had been used numerous times.
When I’d completed two edits with polishing and further proof reads I decided I might approach some agents (really a little premature) – but I had to come up with a title. I hastily chose one that included physical features of the main antagonist – but again I was not happy with this. I really wanted a neutral title. Agents say titles don’t matter as either they, or the publishers, (if you are lucky to obtain either) will often change them anyway. But I felt embarrassed sending off sample chapters with the temporary title, so halted my approaches to them. It has since sat with its copyright title, neglected and unchanged. I thought of ‘Missing, Presumed Dead’ or ‘Missing Presumed ………(I still might use the latter, so will not tempt fate by listing it). But of course Susie Steiner released her book called ‘Missing Presumed ……’ and there had been other titles published with this name so using ‘Missing Presumed Dead’ was a no go.
Driving down to Wales one day I thought I had hit on a possibility. ‘The Escape’. It was relevant to part of my plot. I had been so busy writing my next book and hadn’t been keeping abreast of who had been releasing new books. I decided I would have to research whether anyone had used this title in recent years when I reached my son’s place. When I arrived in Wales I stopped at a Tesco’s and the first thing I saw when I glanced over at a small section of paperbacks just inside the door was C.L. Taylor’s new paperback – entitled ‘The Escape’. Foiled again. C.L. Taylor, like me, likes to keep titles simple and clearly we think along the same lines. Her newer titles, I am pleased to say, are not ones that would be appropriate for my book.
A few months ago I was travelling back from town on a bus thinking about a title when an absolutely brilliant one popped into my head. I was sure I had never seen a title like this. Feeling very tired at the time I thought ‘I must write that down before I forget’. Before I could reach into my bag for a pen, I nodded off to sleep for a few minutes. After waking I quickly grabbed pen and paper from by bag – but it was gone. I could not remember one word of the title and although I am convinced it is in the brain cells somewhere, I haven’t been able to retrieve it! So I still have a book without a title that I would be willing to use for publishing. Preoccupied with other books and researching the minefield of self-publishing, I haven’t given it much further thought.
Here’s the thing though – the plot includes an accident, a lie (a very big one), a missing presumed dead person, an inheritance and an escape. Surely I could come up with a suitable title from all those scenarios? I will have to think further on it. In the meantime its copyright title remains.
The next book I will be publishing has a title I am happy with and was not only my working title, but the one I have decided to use for publishing. Why are some book titles so easy and others not?