12×12 has been a part of my writing journey, and I am so glad to share a blog.
I am so excited about my debut, DIWALI IN MY NEW HOME.
I’d like to share my story of this manuscript being rejected several times, and then at one point, I rebranded the manuscript. Just like a business rebranding itself, a book can be rebranded too.
I did two things. I changed the title, and I changed the character names.
The title, DIWALI IN MY NEW HOME, was earlier titled DIWALI AWAY FROM HOME. Even though the story is the same, where the main character is celebrating a holiday in a new country, the words used in the title evoke different emotions. As the title expresses the book’s mood, ‘Diwali Away from Home’ gives an expression of sadness, whereas ‘Diwali in my New Home,’ gives an expression of possibilities.
As per Carol Mann “Your title is a ten second advertisement”. So, make your title spark.
The title of a show, a movie, or a book is what gets anybody’s attention. When you submit a manuscript to an agent or editor, they are more likely to pick up a manuscript to read because of its title. Never underestimate the title of your book.
If you are struggling to come up with a book title, here is an exercise you can try:
- Make a list of keywords that relate to your book. These keywords are a list of nouns, verbs and adverbs. You might want to consider key characters, events, or phrases.
- Now combine the different keywords. You can add filler words, or you can also combine two words and make a new word.
- Come up with at least ten titles.
- Say these titles aloud and try to keep the ones pleasing to the ears, catchy, and strike with your book theme and plot.
- Share the list with your critique partners and select the best one.
I asked a few authors to share their process of picking titles.
Natasha Kazi, author of MOON’S RAMADAN: “The first title an author chooses for their book is rarely the final published title. But Moon’s Ramadan was my debut picture book’s first and only title. I knew I wanted my title to speak to the story’s heart. My kids love the imaginative elements of holidays, Santa Claus during Christmas, and spooky things during Halloween, and I believe they deserve some holiday magic during Ramadan. Moon was the perfect imaginative element. Adding Ramadan summarized the book perfectly, Ramadan from the perspective of the Moon. Of course, I had to do my due diligence and research existing titles on Google and Publisher’s Weekly Right Report and make sure my desired title was not taken. To my surprise, it was available and differentiated enough to live alongside the other Ramadan books in the marketplace.”
Stacy B. Davids, author of SIMON THE HUGGER: “Since the main character in my picture book, SIMON THE HUGGER, is a sloth who keeps hugging the other animals and needs to learn about consent, I originally named him Cuddles. It was a cute name, but it seemed overdone, and I wondered if it would be off-putting for some readers. So, I made a list of formal-sounding names and said them aloud, along with the other words in the title. I also liked the alliteration in the book’s first sentence: “Simon the sloth hugged everyone and everything.” I didn’t struggle with the full title of this book. I kept plugging in different names before “the hugger” and chose what sounded the best. I did the same for the main character’s name in my gender-themed picture book, ANNIE’S PLAID SHIRT.
Kelly Swemba author of MISSING VIOLET: “I named the main character Mia, which means beloved or darling. This was perfect because even though this character was sweet and little, she experiences and expresses a rainbow of emotions. The use of color then led to naming her best friend Violet. My book was originally titled THE COLORS OF GRIEF. After entering it in the Rate Your Story contest for a critique, the lovely judge suggested something more character focused like MISSING VIOLET. This was a perfect suggestion and really encompasses the heart and feeling of the story. I’m grateful this came together how it did and really opened my eyes to how much a title can tell us about the story.”
Caroline Fernandez author of THE ADVENTURES OF GRANDMASAURUS: “My publisher wanted a dinosaur book with a grandmother character in it. I thought grandparent/dinosaur might = ageism. Instead, I thought Grandma = magic. Thus, she’s a GRANDMASAURUS. The Adventures of GRANDMASAURUS title came together because I knew it was going to be a series with many adventures. However now that we are on book four…it’s a long title + subtitle. I suggest brainstorming a title which alludes to the theme of the book. For me it was Adventure + GRANDMASAURUS.”
Dan Gutman, author of JOHNNY HANGTIME, in one of his books shares that his son told him to change the title ‘Johnny Hangtime’ to ‘The Stunt Kid’. Dan ignored him and titled it Johnny Hangtime. He regrets that the book didn’t sell very well and should have titled it as The Stunt Kid.
Next time you revise your story, I’d say give some thought to the title of your book. It’s as important as your story. It’s what conveys the mood and theme of your book.
If you book has been rejected several times, try rebranding your story and give it a fresh new name.
Here is a checklist for a title:
- No book with the same title exists
- Captures the mood/tone/theme
- Pleasing to the ears
- Easy to say
- Ask your kids for suggesting
Happy writing and keep creating those beautiful stories with fun titles.
Shachi Kaushik is a bilingual Hindi-English children’s media enthusiast who is passionate about sharing stories. Part of the Children’s Media Industry, she creates content for children that is entertaining, enlightening, and educational. Raised in India, Shachi currently lives in Vancouver with her husband. Shachi loves taking walks on the beach and eating gelato.
- Website: storiesbyshachi.com
- Twitter: @KaushikShachi
- Instagram: @storiesbyshachi
- LinkendIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shachi-kaushik/
Shachi is offering one lucky 12 x 12 member a Diwali Kit as this month’s check-in prize! The Diwali Kit includes: Shachi’s book Diwali In My New Home, bookmark, stickers, coloring sheets, and other fun Diwali surprises! Get those new drafts written and those old ones revised for your best chance to win at the October check-in!