Changing Titles

‘STOP PRESS’ – Currawong Creek is the title for my 2013 release!

title 3Well, it’s official. My new novel, due for release in July next year, is to be renamed.

The title of a novel will often alter by publication date. There is a proud history of name changes. The baffling working title of Tolstoy’s War and Peace was ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’. Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men was equally inexplicably called ‘Something That Happened’. ‘A Jewish Patient Begins His Analysis,’ became Portnoy’s Complaint. ‘First Impressions,’ became Pride and Prejudice. ‘Incident At West Egg’? – The Great Gatsby. ‘Private Fleming; His Various Battles’? – The Red Badge Of Courage. ‘The Dead UnDead’? – Dracula.

Title scribblings for Light Years by James Salter

These early title drafts seem so absurd to readers now, partly because they already know and love the book under its final name. Likewise, it can be difficult for authors to give up the title they’ve grown used to. But my publisher is the expert, and I respect her judgement. Meanwhile, I’m writing my new novel, with a working title I won’t get too attached to. Can’t wait to announce the new name once it’s finalised. Looking down the fascinating list of renamed classics, I must admit the publishers invariably got it right. That’s why I’m trusting mine.

16 thoughts on “Changing Titles

  1. The publishers are right–I’ve only ever known that word as the name used in old westerns for the alcohol drunk by American Indians. But I thought we might have been past that historical point. Good luck finding a new title. I’m on the search for a new one for one of my completed mss too.

      • Flaming Hearts, Burning Up, Up in Flames, Fireheart???? Oh, I do look forward to hearing what you come up with! Best wishes.

      • Terrific suggestions, thank you. This is such a great idea, getting suggestions via the blog! Will be up late tonight finalising the list for Penguin. My editor will throw her own ideas into the mix too.

  2. Is your book available in the US as well as Australia Jennifer? The reason I ask is because I’m not aware of Firewater having those connotations here. Anyway, I’m kind of sorry that you’re going to have to change the title because I rather liked Firewater.

  3. Hi Jennifer,
    I loved the Firewater title and didn’t think of alcohol at all! But I guess they should know. How about a simple reverse Waterfire, or Fire on Water.
    I just changed my Undercover Cowboy title to Do Not Tell Me No, but for a completely different reason. I’d used UC as a working title and in contests for over a year, but when I went to publish, realized the title had been used many times, and I wanted something that would stand alone as my debut novel. Do Not Tell Me No is something my heroine would say, so that works.
    When building your list, maybe think about that, a phrase or something your characters would do or say.
    Good Luck, and looking forward to the July release!

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