Several years ago, I published my first book. This was an exciting endeavor for me because becoming a professional writer has been my goal for a long time. Although there were many things I had to consider during the publication process, I think coming up with a title was one of the most important decisions I made. Upon reflecting on the time I spent determining what the title of my book would be, I have concluded that it is one of the most important aspects of the publishing process. This is the case because the book title is the linguistic designation that will represent one’s entire book.
After seriously considering what title I would give my first book, I settled on Erudition. Although the term erudition is broadly defined, a general definition is: knowledge acquired by study and research. Additionally, the word erudition represents the concepts of learning and scholarship. The word was a fitting title for my work for several reasons. First, both of my central characters-Veronica and Grace Messing-were scholarly individuals who placed a great deal of primacy on reading and writing. Second, the course of the novel is predicated on both women attaining extensive knowledge about various social realities such as sexual abuse and racism. Thus deciding to title the book Erudition was fitting on at least two levels.
In her own commentary on this subject, literary agent Rachelle Gardner notes that the publisher of one’s work is generally the one who makes the final decision on what the book title will be. She goes on to point out that the better the title you come up with, the better chance you have that the publisher will decide to use it. This is another good reason why writers should pay careful attention to the titles they assign their books. When you go through the traditional publishing market, the ingenuity, appropriateness, and likability of your title can play a profound role in determining whether it is used or not.
In his opinion article “Is This Title O.K.?,” writer Andy Martin claims that Gabriel García Márquez is the author of one of the great titles: “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” In stating why, he argues “It’s so fundamental, so universal; it’s right up there with “The Odyssey.”” I agree with this assessment, and the universal appeal of Márquez’s book title may be at least part of the reason that the literary work earned its author such great cultural and commercial success. Thus the concept of whether or not one’s book title will appeal to people from all walks of life is another factor writers should consider during the brainstorming process.
As mentioned earlier, choosing the title of your book is an important aspect of the publishing process. I encourage writers to give it serious thought. Good luck!
Jocelyn Crawley holds B.A. degrees in English and Religious Studies. Her work has appeared in Jerry Jazz Musician, Nailpolish Stories, Visceral Uterus, Dead Beats, Four and Twenty, and Haggard and Halloo. Other stories are forthcoming in Faces of Feminism, The Idiom, Thrice Fiction and Calliope.
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